A while after I visited the Nordic Travel Fair, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the local travel fair here in California. The Travel & Adventure Show is a yearly even which is held in multiple cities in California, and I participated in the San Francisco Bay Area Show in Santa Clara. I was given a press pass to the fair, and I spent a whole day there on Saturday. There was also a special event for the press on Saturday morning but unfortunately I was unable to join.
First, after visiting the Nordic Travel Fair in Finland, the size of this show just blew my mind. There were several halls full of travel related things, and sometimes you didn't even notice when you had entered a different room. The noise there was also something else compared to Europe. American small talk suits so well to this kind of situation and there is never a shy moment by the booths. I especially noticed that all kinds of photo spots and booths were extremely popular. Some of them just provided the props, so you could take your photo with your phone but some had a photographer taking pictures, and you were able to walk out with a souvenir photo.
One of the main attractions was an audition to the Amazing Race TV show, and the host Phil Keoghan. The line to the audition was very long and everyone seemed to have dressed up in sports clothes. I did participate in the Phil Keoghans talk; "No Opportunity Wasted" and was lucky to meet him after the talk. Based on the pictures he showed us, he has truly been quite the adventurer himself and I quite enjoyed listening to his stories. The Amazing Race will be airing it's new season at the end of April.
I did participate in a couple other talks as well. One of them was by Angel Castellanos from Angel's Travel Lounge blog. His talk was about travel safety and how to pack effectively. I was actually happy to get new tips I hadn't thought of myself before, and even though some of the equipment were sold at the fair, his talk wasn't too commercialized. He was also very good at public speaking so I quite enjoyed listening to him. The most enthusiastic travelers seemed to participate in the talks with note books which I didn't realise to bring with me.
I have worked at different fairs for years and from that point of view, I saw things I had never seen before in Scandinavia. I found out that some visitors take these fairs extremely serious, and they went around collecting brochures and commercial products with a little trolley. I saw several people carrying heavy bags full of things. I am not sure if these people were there just to collect the free merchandise or were they serious travellers looking for new tips for their travels. All the pens, key chains, note books and candies disappeared very quickly from the booths. Sometimes people even reached out to get them from behind my back, and not just a few, they took the whole stack. I remember in Finland, we were not terribly happy about these collectors but this was totally at a new level, and the hosts didn't seem to care. I guess it goes with the territory here in the US.
Overall, this show was a positive experience and I got a lot of great travel tips, a few new contacts and great ideas for my future travels. Next year I will definitely go again! Then I will be more aware about what to expect and it will be easier to plan my own day at the show.
And here is a hostess a la Silicon Valley. A talking cardboard stand which looks like a human. "Lexi" looked disturbingly real even though she was completely flat. I hope they don't replace all of the people with these in the future! Ha ha...
See you at the Travel & Adventure Show next year!