Travel Goods Association
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Better Than Big

I knew, by the numbers going into this year’s International Travel Goods Show, that it was going to be big. Really big. But it was so much more than that.

With nearly 300 exhibitors covering 141,510 square feet of exhibit space, The 2015 Show was the biggest in recent history, up nearly 18,000 square feet over last year’s sellout, and with 44 more exhibitors. For perspective, we’re up 75% in space and more than 50% in exhibitors over 2009, a span of just six years. That’s huge. And that's before factoring in the 32% uptick in buyer attendance over last year.

So I knew walking onto the Show floor for the first time was going to be different. I just wasn’t prepared for how different. And it wasn’t only the size.

This year’s Show was, simply, better. The new exhibit space in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center is much roomier than our old digs in the North Hall, but at the same time it feels cozier. Maybe it’s the way smaller booths were intermingled with big ones, or the big open plaza just inside the Show entrance, but it felt more welcoming. Friendlier.

The Show took on a more international flavor, too, and perhaps that’s part of the new feel. We had 77 exhibiting companies from outside the U.S. this year. What’s more, 43 of them were first-timers to The Show (last year we had 44 international exhibitors in total). Word’s getting around, and now more than ever, The Show is the world’s premier travel goods showcase.

And I wasn’t alone in noticing the difference this year. Booth quality has gone up dramatically, with products highlighted in more creative, expressive ways. And it’s had a palpable impact on the Show experience. The Show Committee felt it, too. So much so, they decided, on the spot, to hold a Best Booth competition to highlight exhibitors who are going the extra mile to distinguish themselves – and by extension, The Show as well. The contest was a success, and looks to become a regular Show feature.

Personally, I think it was smart of the Show Committee to recognize these exhibitors because their actions up the game for everyone, and inspire others to do the same.

And we are on top of our game. In a world where last year’s smartphone is considered obsolete, a lack of innovation is the death knell for any consumer-facing industry. We have become as color-conscious as the fashion world; our pursuit of light weight puts our materials science right up there with sporting goods; and we are more responsive to travelers’ needs than any other industry. Looking at this year’s trends from The Show, it’s obvious nobody’s sitting still. It’s a terrific perspective, and The Show is the only place where you can see these changes, feel the shifting winds that are shaping our industry and stay ahead of the trends.

Which is precisely why our Show coverage is so exciting. And it’s why you should plan to join us for 2016. If you think this year was something, well, wait until you see next year’s Show!


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