Sunday, 26 February 2012

Holiday travel shows in London

The Times presents - Destinations The Holiday Travel Show
London Earls Court

The Telegraph Adventure Travel Show
London Olympia

Holiday travel shows can be a great way to get inspiration, find new ideas, see new ways of traveling and learn more about the world. While these are incredibly commercial events if you know what you are looking for it becomes incredibly useful.

The Adventure Travel Show was a new one for me, the single floor space of exhibition stands was easy to walk around giving me chance to stop and speak to those that gave me interest. A friendly atmosphere of largely small businesses all vying to give the ultimate travel experience. Africa and Asia were the key destinations with trips offered to live in a remote village, do volunteering courses or get to basics and hit off-the-beaten track hard.

Destinations is significantly larger and the array of different sized stands and corridors initially intimidated me. I knew it was a luxury travel show in general that covered the world with areas for each continent. There were familiar faces from The Adventure Travel Show and more money was certainly spent here. While most established organisations were offering all inclusive more luxury packages, the smaller and newer companies definitely offered more challenging experiences like a trek through the Congo, or safari trips through the Amazon and climbing expeditions in Azerbaijan. If you have a general idea of what interests you and the sort of experience/ information you want to get then this is a great opportunity to collect it in one fell swoop.

Both had talk and seminar sessions. The Adventure Travel Show welcomed Nick Hewer from The Apprentice to talk about his travel experiences with a car journey that took him 12,000 miles from London to Ulaanbaabatar ahead of the Mongol Rally in a 25 year old Renault 4.

Destinations Show had a number of high profile talks from people including Trevor MacDonald, Dan Snow, and Liz Bonnin. It also had a number of educational sessions including Travel Writing hosted Lyn Hughes, Wanderlust Magazine and featuring Bradt Travel Guides - Adrian Phillips, Rough Guides - Matthew Teller and Exodus Travel Ltd - Paul Goldstein

A few tips on how to handle a show:
1. Check programme first. See what seminars you'd like to go to. I would suggest going for one day, so pick the best day (weekends will be very busy so try to avoid that, and you should only need 3 - 4 hours at the vent)

2. Prepare to only bring back business cards or some leaflets. Don't collect all the brochures, you'll walk out with bags clinging to exhausted arms. Take a note book with you too (and possibly a small backpack so you won't go over board collecting information)

3. List 3 things you want to learn while there so you can narrow down what stalls to visit

4. Don't distracted by other offers, but there maybe good promotions on travel magazine subscriptions like Wanderlust, Lonely Planet and National Geographic Traveller Magazine.

5. Speak to someone on the stand, act like you are booking the trip - what do you want to know? what sort of company are they? what do they offer? how flexible are the trips? what destinations do you cover? what experiences are they? how much are they?

6. Pack your back with a couple of light snacks, talking and walking is hungry work! 

With that you should have a great time.