There wasn’t a huge party to mark the end of IPW 2021, but the United States’ biggest travel show still ended on a big high.
Yes, it was smaller and quieter than in previous years, but it’s a testament to the dogged determination of US Travel Association (USTA) and Las Vegas that it happened in the first place.
Delayed and postponed twice because of the pandemic, the organisers had a huge task on their hands: organising an international trade event…when international visitors weren’t even allowed travel into the United States.
A total of 2,600 delegates made it to Vegas, including 700 international registrants who were granted a national interest exemption – including yours truly.
Alas, the Irish presence was very small this year, but the message from sellers and American friends was one and the same: we miss you and can’t wait for you to come back.
In the meantime, IPW had to get on with the business of selling travel without the friendly and vocal presence of the Irish delegation, but they managed to muddle through.
The Big News
As the delegates gathered for the opening night party at the fabulous Resorts World Las Vegas, a cloud lingered in the perfectly blue skies: the question of when the travel ban on international visitors would be lifted.
Then, on Monday morning, the news spread like wildfire and by the time USTA president and CEO Roger Dow cut the ribbon to officially open IPW 2021 just after 8.30am, it was official: the travel ban was going to be kiboshed in early November.
I can’t exaggerate the effect it had on everyone: all of a sudden the delegates felt a huge weight lift off the event and the first flurry of meetings took place in an atmosphere of genuine excitement at the prospect of international visitors finally being allowed back into the U.S..
The final event was a teaser of next year’s IPW, which will return to Orlando in May – it’ll be absolutely huge as the organisers and Visit Orlando come together to make up for lost time and welcome back a full complement of delegates from the United States and around the world.
Highlight of the Week
IPW 2021 was my tenth IPW in a row, but my first as editor of ITTN.
It was a privilege to catch up with old friends and colleagues and introduce them to what we’re trying to do at ITTN. These are exciting times for travel and the confidence that travel demand is – to quote Roger Dow – a “coiled spring” ready to be released throughout the world is one we at ITTN absolutely share.
However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the week’s biggest highlight – for me, anyway – was when Roger Dow called out my name as winner of the USTA Travel Writer of the Year Award for 2021.
I was in a state of delirious shock – and must have told Roger how happy I was about 10 times in the space of 30 seconds.
Over the course of the week ITTN caught up with a few of the big names in those key markets for Irish visitors – I spoke to the CEOs of Orlando, Florida and California, and caught up with one of the management team of NYC & Company.
Keep an eye out for those exclusive interviews in the coming days!
In the meantime, check out the walkthrough video for the main marketplace hall – it’s big, but nowhere near IPW big!