Travel trade show rebrands, takes fresh tack

After 45 years, the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow has been rebranded to IPW for this year’s event in Las Vegas.

The annual trade show takes place in a different host city each year, bringing thousands of the world’s largest travel buyers and media to a destination. Las Vegas last hosted the trade show in 2008.

Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said the name International Pow Wow has been around for years, but recently the association has gotten push back from people asking “In today’s world, is that politically correct?”

Thus, the rebranding of pow wow to IPW.

“Also, we don’t want people to think it’s the old show,” Dow said.

So, the show is getting a fresh start this year with a new logo and new name.

Through Wednesday, the Las Vegas Convention Center will be home to about 6,300 total delegates who are expected to attend, including 1,800 from other countries. IPW has experienced double digit growth over the past three years in delegate attendance, booth sales and buyer participation: 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.

“This is a monster show for us,” Dow said.

He added this year will set a record for attendance.

“It’s huge. They just keep coming,” he said.

A combination of the economy improving and the Las Vegas factor will prompt more people to come to a show in Vegas as opposed to other cities because of all the available amenities, Dow said.

The people here this week are negotiating business deals for 2014, 2015 and 2016 via 90,000 20-minute appointments. Dow said buyers are looking for what’s unique different and new, but international travelers still want to see the authentic America, such as Route 66 or the Grand Canyon.

Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Tourism Authority, said, “It’s the travel industry’s most important international travel marketplace.”

Las Vegas and Ralenkotter have been involved with the association throughout his entire 40-year career with the travel authority.

This is the fourth time IPW has come to Las Vegas. For Ralenkotter, though, this is a particularly special show: This is his last official event as the national chairman of the U.S. Travel Association.

“He’s going out with a bang,” Dow said.

Ralenkotter explained, “Officially at the July meeting I will pass the gavel and be the past chair.”

During his tenure there’s been marked improvement to the visa waiver program, and greatly reduced visa wait times for travelers hailing from locales such as China and Brazil. More research also has been completed on the international traveler and the Brand USA marketing arm was fully implemented.

“We were one of the few countries in the world that didn’t have an organization that promoted their country,” Ralenkotter said.

And now we do.

Brand USA facilitates information about America back to countries they’ve targeted for tourism potential, and has developed ad campaigns about different aspects of the U.S.

“By having them do that really does enhance our competitive position in the marketplace,” Ralenkotter said. “There’s strength in numbers and there’s strength in those budgets as we start to market the U.S. and Las Vegas.”

While in town, Ralenkotter said he wants delegates to see the new aspects of Las Vegas since they were last here, including McCarran International Airport’s Terminal 3 and the Smith Center. The attendees also will see a preview of Michael Jackson One by Cirque du Soleil.

“I want them to take away that we continue to be the most exciting city there is in the world,” Ralenkotter said. “They also need to see that we continue to evolve as a destination.”

In all, 230 representatives from 90 Southern Nevada tourism companies will be at the Las Vegas Convention Center this week to market and sell their wares.

“This truly does show the continuing partnership with our shareholders,” Ralenkotter said. “No one can touch Las Vegas.”

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.

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