This month, ExpertFlyer interviews John Golicz, Founder & CEO of the Travel & Adventure Show, the largest series of travel and adventure shows in the United States. Since 2014, the company’s main focus has been to help hundreds of thousands of travel enthusiasts find, plan and book their dream vacation. John shares his vision for the travel industry, as well as trends and news coming out of this year’s upcoming series of seven shows, starting in Chicago this month, then on to San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Dallas.
“The number one reason attendees come to the Travel & Adventure Shows is to meet with and talk to the experts manning the exhibit booths. 74% of attendees find a trip/destination from a direct meeting with an exhibitor at the show.”
— John Golicz, Founder & CEO of the Travel & Adventure Show
The Travel & Adventure Show is identified as the #1 Series of Travel Shows in the U.S. What metrics go into earning that impressive title?
We’ve been doing this for 12 years, we’ve produced nearly 60 events, contracted 2,800 exhibiting companies and attracted 11,300 unique travel agents and over 1 million attendees! All of that put together has influenced over $2 billion in travel purchases. I think that says it all!
Your regional shows run from January through October in seven markets. How did you end up in those cities – Any plans to expand into New York, Boston, Miami?
We concentrate on top 10 DMA’s (Distinct Market Areas) or top travel markets. While San Diego is a top 15, it fits well with our west coast roster of exhibitors and we reacted to the demand there. We are always looking at new markets and add them as demand from our exhibitors as we deem fit.
Are the shows in each city typically similar? Are the speakers and topics carried over or are there variances?
Each market is different than the others. About 60% of our exhibitors are what I call national or international – meaning they serve many or all markets. 40% tend to be regional. So in Chicago, for example, we see many Michigan, Wisconsin and even Indiana exhibitors and a few from California.
In LA, our largest show, we see over 100 California exhibits and a little of the above. Likewise, the Pacific Rim and Asia has a stronger presence in the West Coast shows, while the Caribbean is better represented at the East Coast shows and Chicago.
Why should a travel aficionado check out a Travel & Adventure Show? What will one find there that they may not encounter otherwise?
The Travel and Adventure Show Series is perhaps the most authentic and intimate medium to plan, research and book a dream vacation. Besides the great inspirational celebrity travel speakers on our main Travel Channel Theater, we have dozens of speakers in every market that present in-depth destination information and tips, tricks and expertise that make it a one-stop-shop for everything you need to have an incredible travel experience.
The number one reason attendees come to the Travel & Adventure Shows is to meet with, and talk to, the experts manning the exhibit booths. 74% of attendees find a trip/destination from a direct meeting with an exhibitor at the show. They enjoy detailed, personalized discussions to learn about local destinations and tours. They want to find how to travel like a local, what they will actually experience from a tour, what time of year to go, what to bring, where to stay, what to see and where to eat. They come armed with detailed questions, and they expect expert answers.
What sticks out the most to me is 81% of our consumers do not trust the internet to give trusted advice when it comes to travel information. I concur as everything to me looks great on the web as I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of a lousy hotel, hotel room or destination online. All tours look magnificent and I never see destination advice on a DMO site of danger, or where not to travel. But the vast majority (61%) of Travel & Adventure Show attendees state that they TRUST an exhibitor more just because they are in the show. More importantly, that number rises to over 90% after they have talked with an expert in the exhibitor’s booth!
That’s the magic that happens at every Travel & adventure Show – it’s the reason so many exhibitors come back each year and why over 93% of attendees plan on coming to another Show.
What’s hot in travel right now?
■Cuba: The Obama White House just announced major changes that will make it easier and hopefully cheaper for the average tourist to visit. Look for firmer guidance by February. Then experience a complete different Side of the Caribbean experience. This should create great bargains in the rest of the Caribbean and eastern Mexico in the future as market share fights heat up.
■Brazil: As it prepares for the 2016 Olympics, 400 new hotels are opening and more flights from the U.S. are launching. Go this year.
■Asia cruising: Be the first on your block to see exotic ports like Jeju Province, South Korea and other places none of your braggy friends have visited yet.
■Puerto Rico: New verve in an old destination comes from increasing airline service, no passport needed, and new hotels and resorts.
■Dubai: A big airport expansion and a glut of hotels mean good deals for visitors to this glitzy Mideast city. Busiest airport in the world.
What are some of the burgeoning trends you’re seeing in the travel industry?
- Vacations nobody used to take, but now everyone is taking European River Cruising
- U.S. hotel rates: on the rise:
- Average nightly hotel rate up 5% to $121
- Mid-range hotel prices up 6%
- Upper-tier hotel rates up 4-7%
- Also on rise: vacation rentals
- Airbnb, the vacation rental service, now has 800,000 listings around the world, bigger than any hotel chain.
- Airfares: not too bad
- Now is the time for Europe
- Transatlantic fares: “depressed” due to more competition. Some forecasts predict fares worldwide falling 5.1% this year.
- Euro at recent historic lows
- Local economies a bit stagnant so room rates more friendly
- USA Outlook
- Domestic economy fares up 2-5%, but the wild card of fuel prices will push fares down slightly in some markets
- Domestic business class fares up 2-6%
- Baby boomers: not dead yet
- Those born between 1946 and 1964 plan 4-5 trips this year, with 45% taking at least one trip out of the country.
- Millennials: swarming the globe
- One third of millennials (ages 18-34) plan to travel more this year than last, and their preferred destinations are Las Vegas, Honolulu, London and Rome.
- Super trendy destinations
- Fez, Morocco
- Catskills, N.Y. (no, we are not making this up)
- Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
- Wasatch Mountains, Utah
- Chengdu, China
- Source: Lonely Planet
- Source: Hotwire
What are your best tips for securing air travel cheaply?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines made +$3.3 billion in baggage fees last year. So here is my best tip: CARRY ON!
Yes, you need to pack smart, but a round trip today and 1 checked bag is easily $50, sometimes more. So, even for a 7+day trip one bag it. Use hotel cleaners or local dry cleaner/laundry service. You can clean 3-4 shirts, 2 slacks at the best hotels for well less than $50. You save time at airports, and with today’s full flights, most gate agents will gate check your bag for free if you do not want to lift it. Then all you have to do when you arrive to your destination is grab your bag, de-plane and start to enjoy your trip!
Five Fare Savers!
1. Leave on a Wednesday
It’s the cheapest day to do it, especially for domestic travel.
The day with the most seats is likely to have better supply, and thus … more empty seats that require discounting to fill the plane—meaning they’ll have to release more seats at their cheapest price point.”
2: Book on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time
Studies have found this was the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for domestic travel.
3: Book six weeks in advance
A revealing study from Airlines Reporting Corporation found that the best time to purchase your airfare is about six weeks prior to travel. The reason: Around this time, prices drop below the average fare.
4: Fly out early
The first flight of the morning is usually the cheapest. The next-cheapest flight times are during or after lunch or around dinner time
5. Book connecting flights
Booking connecting flights could save you as much as $100 round-trip.
Just make sure you leave enough time to make your connecting flight in case the first flight arrives late.
Traditional hotel vs. Airbnb for accommodations?
Three pros and three cons:
1. You Can Save Money, Sometimes a Lot
Airbnb apartment rentals tend to cost 21.2% less than staying at a hotel.
And, if you’re on a budget, you can save 49.5% if you decide to stay in a private room at a host’s house instead of staying in a hotel.
Not only that, you can often get a lot more room for your money, making these short-term rentals particularly cost effective for families. Plus, you’ll ordinarily have access to a kitchen of some type, so you can save money on eating at restaurants during your stay.
2. Some Hosts Are Wonderful
Many of the people who host short-term rentals go all out to make their guests’ stay as comfortable and pleasant as possible. If you’re traveling out of the country, a good host can be an excellent resource for learning about a local culture and customs. Stories abound about hosts who become friends with their guests, who return year after year. You ordinarily won’t end up becoming friends with a hotel manager.
3. Some Accommodations Are Fantastic
Rather than stay in a sterile hotel room in a high-rise building downtown, you may find space in a beautifully-furnished Victorian home in a lovely residential area of the city.
1. Ads and Descriptions May Be Misleading
The ads, photographs, and descriptions posted on short-term rental websites can be misleading or downright dishonest. Some hosting services check out the places they list before they allow them on their websites, but not all do so. No Corporate Standards.
2. Some Hosts Are Not So Wonderful
When you book a short-term rental through a website like Airbnb or VRBO, you’re not dealing with a corporate entity like Marriott or Hilton. Every host is an individual, and is different. Some people know what they’re doing, but some don’t. A rotten host or one who is overly intrusive could turn your vacation into a nightmare.
3. Your Rental Place May Not Be Secure
The place you stay may or may not have good locks, but it likely won’t be anywhere near as secure as a hotel, which may have professional security personnel on the premises, computerized door entry cards, security cameras, and room safes.
Be careful, use reputable sites that check properties, do your homework and check reviews, local maps etc
What are your favorite domestic and international destinations to check out in 2015?
Super trendy destinations:
For visitors, the medina of Fès el-Bali (Old Fez) is the city’s great drawcard. It’s an assault on the senses, a warren of narrow lanes and covered bazaars fit to bursting with aromatic food stands, craft workshops, mosques and an endless parade of people.
- Catskills, N.Y. (no, we are not making this up)
Adventure and peace. Fine cuisine. Friendly, homey diners. Breathtaking vistas. A quaint covered bridge over a babbling brook… It’s all here in the Catskills.
Skiing, golf, FOODies, Art Beauty – all drive able in North East
A stark contrast to Old Europe – In your face Architecture – ART & Design Center Flourishing and innovative food Great night life – Its not all about Amersterdam
- Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Tucked away on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, the ‘Silver Port’ region packs in all those Caribbean dreams. Think beach nightlife in lively towns, spectacular hiking and mountain biking, and – of course – miles and miles of that famous Caribbean sand.
Best of all, Puerto Plata is one of the few places where you can escape the tourist hordes while still enjoying world-class tourism infrastructure – all for a price that’s significantly lower than you think.
The greatest snow on Earth!
Europe meets Middle East – breathtaking multi cultural great port for cruising.