Last week, I squeezed in a quick trip to New York City to give three talks at an industry conference hosted by Visit Britain (the national tourist board for Great Britain). In order to fit the event into my schedule, I had to sleep on the plane and give my first talk in a pretty disheveled state. The impressive conference was run to the minute with a frantic series of 12-minute, one-on-one meetings at little tables where tour wholesalers tried to sell their products (hotels, tours, experiences) to retailers (travel agents). The energy in the room was intense. I was hired to provide three breaks over two days, giving 30-minute talks on Great Culture in Britain, Great Heritage in Britain, and Great Nature in Britain. It was a bit unnerving to give my talks to a room full of professionals -- half of whom were actually British -- but it turned out just fine.
I accepted the gig on the condition that I could talk candidly about what I really like and don't like about Britain, and I think the crowd actually found that refreshing. Still, I was cornered by the Birmingham promoter, who wondered why I never mentioned her city. You can't make everyone happy.
In any event, here's a quick look behind the scenes of a mainstream travel industry event.