Thursday, 16 February 2012

Destinations Travel Show 2012 and Web Comparisons

Firstly, let me apologise for the large gap between this and the last posting.  I have been spending a lot of time tightening up the website and there's still a lot to do.  Anyway I managed to prise myself away from fun-filled data entry, and write up my notes on on the "Destinations - Holiday and Travel Show 2012".  I thought I'd share my thoughts with you here.  

I went to the first day of this years Destinations Show in Earls Court in London, which I’ve been going to for the last few years.  This years was not hugely changed from previous years.  And something that surprised me, was that most of the stands have numbers and occupy various spaces, and are made up of national tourism offices from various countries, tour operators, cruise operators, they all looked so plain, thin bits of metal with card dividers, the stands look like a they were from a trade fair, the stands themselves looked dated and didn't reflect what they were selling.  Another very major gripe is the presence of non-travel related stalls that are just there selling jewellery, massage aids, photography studios, basically just stuff. Their presence just really reduced the value of the show.  

Anyway to get on to my major point.  Holidays are all about the "experience".  Yes, you'll hopefully have lots of nice memories, photos and perhaps some souvenirs that actually have some meaning for you, but the experience is key.  The main thing that struck me above anything else at the show is that there is very little of an actual experience that comes from the show itself. 

Having someone with a name badge smile at me and (for the record plenty of people at the stands looked like they would rather have been anywhere else).  People standing there with brochures, answering questions.  It’s really nice to actually have objects or things or experiences that spark your interest.  People with brochures seems to be missing an opportunity.  Interesting things on show were an Icelandic jeep with the biggest tyres I’ve ever seen on a 4x4, but I imagine the mountains of pose more of a threat to the jeep that it does to them.  Another long haul Safari vehicle which looked just like a very high-riding bus. 

There were the celebrity speakers who were doubtless very familiar to most people who watch documentaries on UK TV. I have to confess to not seeing any of them, but I am sure they gave very interesting presentations.  But outside of these speakers there's not a huge "experiential" dimension within the show itself.  I'm not saying I want to be greeted by faux Maasai warriors on arrival, or go for a short ride on a camel.  But frankly, if I had gone to the show looking for ideas I think I'd have asked myself, why I didn't just type "Travel blog" into Google and start to troll through the search results.  That's not to say every travel blog is worth the time or that the show was so bad.  But I feel should have walked out in a daze of elation, excited by the show I've just visited, thinking about or even booked a holiday.  I really don't think that from this years show many people will have done either.  

What do I suggest?  I don't have a clear and simple one sentence answer, but I definitely think it should market itself as an "event" rather than a "show" because the "show" element is really lacking and I think over time, the number of people attending will gradually drop off more and more, unless something is done to actually get people involved and engaged.  

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