I have just completed this year’s round of winter travel shows to promote tourism in DeKalb County. These shows are a fairly inexpensive way to talk to a lot of people in person about our area and basically try and sell them on planning their vacation to our area. This is done via conversation, travel guides, websites, social media and pictures. The primary objective is to educate our guests about us, i.e., what to see, where to go, how far away we are, how much it cost to visit our area. They want to know about lodging, attractions, food, entertainment, etc. Usually a discussion with visitors to our booth will last five to fifteen minutes based on the verbal level of detail they would like to talk about. We equip each guest with a bag of travel info from our area. This year I worked at the Columbus, Ohio AAA Great Vacations Expo, the Indianapolis Travel, Boat, and RV, fishing and Motorcycle Show and the Greenville, SC Southern Travel Show. We are represented by Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and the State of Alabama Department of Travel and Tourism and other shows too, including; Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, KY. In the spring I will attend the Southern Women’s show in Nashville and others will attend the Memphis and Chattanooga Shows and they will help represent our area. These travel expos are a very personal way to connect to our potential visitor and it gives us a chance to invite them to come see us in person. Many of these shows are a winter attraction in themselves. People come to these shows for entertainment on a cold winter weekend. Many of these expos have stars performing or appearing for autographs. There are lectures and give a ways. There is food and beverage and lots to see. Travel organizations from around the world attend many of these shows. It is also a place to look at and buy an RV, boat, motorcycle or camping and fishing equipment.
We have continued to grow tourism in DeKalb even in an economy that is not that strong. I feel these shows are just another way we get our name and location out to the public. Many of these travel shows have existed since the early 50’s and have become an annual event for residents in their locations.