‘IPW is ready to welcome delegates from India, even if restrictions are lifted last minute’
International trade marketplace IPW is set to return to an in-person event from September 18 to 22 in Las Vegas. Malcolm Smith, Senior Vice President, Business Development General Manager, IPW speaks to Disha Shah Ghosh about IPW returning to the physical format, restarting conventions in the USA, and importance of the Indian market.
Q. At a time when the world is gradually opening up with over a year of travel and border restrictions induced by the pandemic, how significant is hosting IPW as an in-person event for the U.S Travel Association?
We have heard from US exhibitors and international delegates alike that it is imperative to host a live, in-person event. We need to set the precedent that travel is back and meetings-mean-business. With so much disruption the past 15 months, rebuilding relationships and our industry is paramount.
Q. In the changed global scenario, how different will IPW 2021 be in comparison to its previous editions?
We have implemented a number of changes, both due to the pandemic and evolutionary, to the event. We know that everyone has different needs for their businesses to recover in a post-pandemic world so we have created a new show format that will allow delegates to build their own experience. Appointments are still the heart and soul of IPW, but with appointments reduced from 20 minutes to 15, we have created 8 hours of networking time to meet with top clients, make additional appointments, attend IPW Focus educational seminars or peruse the Marketing and Technology Pavilion over coffee and tea. Health and safety guidelines continue to evolve; we are monitoring the situation each week and will continue to create a safe and comfortable environment for our delegates.
Q. How are you positioning IPW 2021?
Rebuild, Reconnect and Reunite
Q. Since IPW 2021 is seen as reuniting the world and restarting physical trade shows safely, what are some of the key tourism products or areas one can expect to be highlighted?
Our states, cities, attractions, and more will be at IPW in force to show they are open for business and to shine a spotlight on the many new products available nationwide. Buyers and media can also expect a continued focus on connecting America’s gateway cities with more rural and outdoor experiences. Brand USA, our premier sponsor at IPW, will be sharing their recovery campaign and be there to assist buyers and media to sell the USA in a post-pandemic world.
Q. In terms of preparations for the event, enlighten us on the kind of safety measures being put in place to host global delegations.
Large scale conventions returned to the United States in June 2021 with World of Concrete in Las Vegas. The second half of 2021 has most convention centers in the USA running full; shows are no longer postponing or cancelling. While we continue to follow local and national guidelines, we have to be respectful of our international guests from around the world who may be coming from various levels of recovery. We will continue to monitor CDC, WHO and local guidance and update our protocols as we get closer to the event.
Q. In terms of source markets in focus, help us understand participation of the Indian delegation being planned at IPW 2021.
India was of growing importance to many of our US exhibitors leading up to the pandemic and it remains an important market. Our suppliers want to meet with the Indian buyers and media and get travel moving again. While travel restrictions continue to be fluid, IPW is ready to welcome our delegates from India, even if restrictions are lifted last minute. If travel remains a challenge for our Indian buyers, we will provide virtual appointments to keep the Indian market connected.
Q. Will we see focus on Vaccine Tourism being highlighted at IPW?
We are working with a national pharmacy to provide a COVID Vaccine Clinic on-site at IPW. In addition, many states and cities in the USA are starting vaccine tourism programs both at their airports and at major tourist sites. It will remain a state and local initiative, so it is even more important than ever for international buyers to stay connected with USA destinations and travel suppliers.