TRAVEL THERE: TRAVEL & ADVENTURE SHOW IS TOO SUCCESSFUL FOR ITS OWN GOOD
For the last few years I’ve spent at least one full day at Dallas Travel & Adventure Show. Each year I’ve told you to put this on your calendar. If this year is any indicator of future shows, I might have to tell you to just stay home!
How It Was Before
Several years back, when I attended my first Travel & Adventure Show, I was blown away. They had reps from all over the world, right there for me to visit with. I’d go from booth to booth, loading up on brochures and chatting with the travel reps from all the various locales. And there were adventures to sample. One year there was zip lining. Another year they were offering Segway rides throughout the exhibit space. I loved the Global Beats state where I saw belly dancing and lovely Mexican folk dancing. I thought it was one of the coolest events I’d ever attended.
How It Was Last Weekend
A lot of people must have taken my advice about attending the show, because when we arrived, a little before the opening, we found a line stretching into the horizon. I live in Dallas, so I’m used to lines; however, this was our first clue that things weren’t quite what they used to be.
Enter the camel! Yes, a camel. I’m lucky to have had my camel riding experience at the Pyramids in Egypt and I hate to be an adventure snob, but somehow, riding a camel around a small space that didn’t look much bigger than my living room didn’t seem like much of a thrill – even for folks who’d never had the opportunity to ride a camel at all.
You could also ride a Segway in a similar space in another part of the exhibition – way sad considering they used to wander all around the exhibition. There was a small pool for a scuba experience (BYO swimsuit & towel). There may have been a rock climbing tower, but I didn’t see it. I did like the green screen photo booth where we got our picture a la Thailand.
Then there were the booths – which should have been travel booths – but instead spread among safaris and cruises, were exhibitors who wanted to speak to you about getting your house remodeled or refinanced. Or replacing your tub with a walk-in version. Or getting rid of your time share. Or…well you get the picture. REALLY??!!?? An entire corner of the show was some sort of retail space for farm products with a few live animals for kids to pet. Come on people!! There was supposed to be a cultural exhibit filled by reps from China and Mexic0, but it was empty.
The Taste of Travel stage seemed to be a big hit, which I didn’t get at all, because it was cooking demonstrations. I don’t want to learn to cook grilled cheese sandwiches from a Dallas food truck proprietor at a travel show. Perhaps I’d sit through a demonstration by a Thai chef from a restaurant in Bangkok, but a local food truck’s grilled cheese sandwiches? PUH-LEEEZ!!
Then there was the Romance Travel booth focused on destination weddings and other love-related events. I would have said that the brides stayed home in droves, except that I figure they were actually over at Market Hall at the Bridal Show. Someone didn’t do their homework.
Making it all more unbearable than before was that even the travel booths disappointed me. While there were some (make that a few) very inviting travel booths with enthusiastic travel reps, they were the exception rather than the norm. There were a lot more gimmacky booths with people giving away “free” travel for the spin of wheel or some other schtick. There were also more people trying to sell me travel packages than there were people trying to teach me how to be an informed traveler. And get this, many of the booths required you to sign up with your contact information before they would give you a brochure. NOT!!
The final bit of indignation went back to my first complaint – where did all these people come from?!? I couldn’t even get up to several of the booths I was interested in, for all the people standing in front of them. I guess that’s good for the booths with that problem, but access is the name of the game. I’m there to get information and if I can’t get it, then I will stay home. I am perfectly capable of inputting my information and ordering brochures online. It’s just that it was so much more fun to do it live – heavy on the WAS!
I did take advantage of the opportunity to hear Rick Steves and Pauline Frommer and I’ll give you the low down on those very informative seminars over the next couple of weeks, but all-in-all I was disappointed. Come back next week to get the highlights from Rick Steves’ about traveling Europe, but don’t bother marking your calendar for next years, unless you need to remodel your bath or are particularly fond of crowds.