We've just returned from Travel Expo at SMX and it's a happy pandemonium of industry people and regular consumers in search of great deals. Just in case you don't know about this annual event (where Travelife Magazine has a high-profile booth every year), it's ongoing from today till Sunday and it's the best place to get deals for airlines and travel packages.
FRIENDS FROM ALL OVER
I was quite busy hopping from booth to booth greeting friends and contacts, especially as many industry people have flown in from all over the world and it's a good chance to say hello again and to catch up on news. The Turkish Airlines team, for instance, flew in from Hong Kong, while the India Tourism team arrived from Singapore. Most of the top executives of airlines and hotels were also in their booths today, as today is the main trade day.
However, while walking around, I did spot some really fantastic deals that I only wish I had time to line up for and buy -- and also time to use! Time has been so precious lately so even if someone gave me a free trip somewhere, I probably would not be able to use it. I was looking at my schedule for the next six months and it's pretty solid with travel to new and exotic destinations. But some of the most intriguing deals included a trip to Kuala Lumpur for $84 and a trip to Hong Kong for something like $55. That's the cost of a fancy meal in Manila!
Walking the entire length of SMX as I made my rounds was pretty exhausting, and I only started to feel it after a few hours. Fortunately, by that time I was at the South Africa booth, which is a lovely spread-out and colorful booth that -- I was told -- took them until 2 AM this morning to set-up. Well, the results are worth it because it's one of the most memorable booths in the expo.
A LITTLE TLC FROM SOUTH AFRICA
"You look like you need a little TLC," said Counsellor Hugo Lambrechts of the South African embassy, as I passed the South Africa booth. I had been so busy that I actually hadn't thought about it; but when he said that, I suddenly felt that those few kind words could not have been more appropriate than at that very moment.
I sighed. "It's one of those days," I told him. I probably looked as tired as I started to feel, by then. He invited me into his booth for a cup of tea and this was very fortunate because I then had a chance to meet the delegates from South Africa. Together we crafted a media plan with Travelife Magazine for them and this alone was worth the tiredness of the whole day.
FANTASTIC TRAVEL DEALS
Do visit Travel Expo if you're looking for good deals -- but make sure you get there early as the most popular booths and deals have people standing in line for hours. Lots of people have asked me when is the best time to visit, and I would have said this morning, which was largely a time period for the trade. My next recommendation is early Sunday morning, when it first opens. I usually visit the expo on Sunday morning and it's quite relaxed and quiet compared to the pandemonium of Friday and Saturday.
And while you're there, please make sure you visit the Travelife Magazine booth for lots of travel talk and back issues of the magazine.