When I first heard about the Boston Globe Travel Show, I was filled
with glee. I travel, so it should be fun. I checked out the event's
website, and I admit that I wasn't thrilled at the booths that were
listed: a mix of tourist boards and cruise lines. I held out hope
that there would be something for me that wasn't advertised, I
decided to attend and registered as a member of the media.
Upon arriving, my wife and I quickly realized that very little had
been omitted from the website. We encountered an array of booths
representing international and domestic travel locations along with the aforementioned
cruiselines. Had we been in the midst of planning a large family trip or one that focused around packaged tourism, this might have been useful. For those more casual travelers, such as ourselves, it wasn't very useful.
Having recently moved to New England, we did pick up some great information about local areas that we have wanted to visit.
Florida was well represented at the show with more floor space than any other
state (and most countries). What surprised me most was the booth for the Holy Land
Experience booth from Orlando, Florida. I couldn't resist snapping a quick picture of a man dressed as Jesus. I was hoping to get a candid photo, but it turns out that this particular Jesus is a poser. I find the fact that such a theme park actually exists a little disturbing.
To me, this travel expo was not for travelers, but for tourists and vacationers. The website did not misrepresent the show, but the title is a bit misleading. The Boston Globe Vacation Show would have been a more accurate name.
Standard entry to the show was $10, which I found a bid expensive for what turned out to be a a collection of tourist boards and cruise lines that are all trying to sell you something. In my experience, a show like this should have been free much like a home improvement show. It is true that there were free tickets being offered on Twitter the day before the show, but for those who bought their tickets ahead of time or purchased tickets at the gate, where was the value for the entrance fee?
Another local travel blogger also visited this show and was a bit more positive about the experience. Check out Beers and Bananas.
To prove that I can do more than complain about things, which I've
been doing a lot lately, I'd like to present to you some ideas that
could be incorparated into my ideal travel show.
1. More travel books. Sure, there was a small Barnes and Noble stand,
but what about an extended section with a wide variety of travel
guides, maps and even books by travel writers. Heck, book signings
could have taken place to boost sales. People love meeting authors
that they have read and being exposed to new points of view.
2. More travel gear. The travel gear at the BGTravelShow was limited
to one vendor selling imported leather goods and one guy selling
handmade snowshoes which seemed more like works of art than
utilitarian gear. I would have like to see representation from
manufacturers of luggage, backpacks and travel clothing. Travel
gadgets and accessories that make life easier going through securitiy
could be highlighted here such as TSA friendly laptop cases and belts
that won't set off metal detectors.
A vendors section with representation from a company such as
Campmor would to well in my ideal travel show so that you could
easily pick up some small Nalgene bottles for shampoo and maybe
finally pull the trigger on that new travel pack you've been eying (at a show special price of course).
3. Travel electronics. This area is growing rapidly and was not
represented at the travel show. I'd like to be able to get my hands on the
latest cameras, GPS devices, eBook readers and NetBooks before making
a decision. Having made such a decision, the ability to buy on site at
special show prices would have been great. Who doesn't travel with at
least some electronic device? Traveling with electronics has quickly become normal for
travelers and any "Travel Show" that fails to recognize this seems to
be, at least for me, missing the point.
Travel is much more than a destination. It's about getting there,
enjoying what is there to be enjoyed and inevitably being disappointed by something yet making discovering something else that makes you smile. Travel is about meeting new people and seeing more of the world than you exposed to in your daily life. It's about finding the small things that make you smile even though you're many miles from your home and
family. For me, travel is definitely not about package deals and itineraries.
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