Things are a little different at IPW than at other trade shows.
Around 2 p.m. on Monday, media were greeted by yelps and shrieks from two Cirque du Soleil performers walking through the media room. The duo, in full Cirque clown costume, proceeded to place red clown noses on a couple of journalists before making their way casually out of the room.
On Sunday, the U.S. Travel Association’s president and CEO, Roger Dow, dressed up — briefly — like Dolly Parton as part of comedian and impressionist Terry Fator’s act during the news brunch at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, which included performers from 13 shows on the Strip, all of whom donated their time.
On Tuesday, Cyndi Lauper addressed thousands while representing New York City and her Broadway show, Kinky Boots, and Roseanne Cash sang the theme song for Brand USA on Monday during lunch.
IPW, The U.S. Travel Association’s trade show, is in Las Vegas through today, with 6,400 journalists, travel buyers, domestic and international travel agencies and tour operators. IPW has experienced double digit growth over the past three years in delegate attendance, booth sales and buyer participation. That is, between 2010 and 2013, the number of total delegates grew by 25 percent, booth sales increased 23 percent and participation by international and domestic buyers grew 30 percent.
About 90,000 prescheduled business appointments, each lasting about 20 minutes, are expected to be held during this year’s IPW at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Among those in town for appointments was NYC & Co., New York City’s travel board. Ten companies came with the board this week to attend IPW, including Intrepid Sea, the New York Yankees and The Shops at Columbus Circle. California, too, was represented, with life-size Transformers who came in costume for a press conference. The state’s smaller beach cities, such as Santa Cruz and Morro Bay, depended more on their spokespeople to give the hard sell to travel media.
Roughly 500 international journalists attended, including Lai Reyes from Port Area, Manila in the Philippines who never had been to Las Vegas before; Alexander Popov from Moscow who skyped with his wife while at the Smith Center and Karl Teuschl from Muchen, Germany, who tasted steaks from Carnevino and Cut at the Palazzo.
“It was great seeing new restaurants and the take Las Vegas has on food. And it is a different take,” Teuschl said. “It’s interesting to see (gourmet) restaurants actually become chain restaurants. They’re doing an excellent job.”
Travel chief Dow, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and Rossi Ralenkotter, the president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, welcomed journalists to the city.
While the trade show was filled with lots of jokes, such as Ralenkotter saying his appearance onstage was part of a new Chippendales act called before and after, the show was all about doing business. An estimated $3.5 billion in travel to the U.S. will be booked during the event. Typically, the host city gets about 10 percent of the total take.
The convention authority spent a year planning this year’s trade show.
“This is our single greatest opportunity to be able to brand Las Vegas to a large group of media. When you talk about credentialing more than 500 journalists you’re talking about a handful of events in the U.S. So we view this as a really epic thing for us,” said Jesse Davis, director of international public relations for the travel board.
And every element for the press brunch on Sunday was thought out, down to the minute. The brunch is the annual event where media is introduced to the host city and what it has to offer in terms of tourism offerings.
“It was an all hands on deck scenario for us,” Davis said.
Hundreds of people were backstage at the Smith Center on Sunday afternoon because of all the shows involved.
“It was humbling and it was indicative of just how great Las Vegas is as a tourism destination. People in the tourism industry here just get it,” Davis said.
IPW returns to Las Vegas in 2020.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.