I got a big welcome in Washington DC while attending my first IPW.
Have you been reading my series of posts about taking on the Baltimore food scene? If so thanks, but please hang on. Baltimore was merely the first half of my summer fun in the Capital Region. Following my adventures there, I enjoyed a few more fine days away from my desk right afterwards and just down the road in Washington DC.
I went to DC to attend IPW.
“Bringing the world to America,” IPW is the American travel industry’s premier marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the US. Held in a different city every year, the convention and trade show features three days of intense networking and bouncing between speed date style appointments coupled with lots of schmoozing and outsized festivities.
Ginormous cultural institutions and landmarks like Newseum, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Geographic Museum, and Nationals Park baseball stadium were commandeered (so to speak) and completely filled with attendees for the 2017 nightly celebrations. Most of the action took place at the (equally expansive) Walter E Washington Convention Center, IPW’s hub during its DC stay. I was blown away – mostly by the sheer number of participants and vast scale of operations.
I had been invited to join IPW 2016 in New Orleans as part of the UK delegation, but due to some very boring but unavoidable scheduling conflicts I had to decline. So when the invite came again for me to be a delegate this year, I was keen to make it happen. I feel privileged even to have been asked (twice in a row) to participate and hope the invitation reflected upon my work as a travel writer.
One Big Welcome
I aim to keep this blog apolitical. But it goes without saying that these are contentious times in the States. Certain actions taken by its current administration could lead people living beyond its borders to wonder rightly if the country is as hospitable a destination as it long has been esteemed.
IPW’s 2017 theme was “one big welcome” and to be sure that message came across loud and clear. All the folks I interacted with, whether they represented a city, state, hotel group … you name it, wanted to make certain the world knew that their particular neck of the woods or travel industry niche remained open to any and all visitors with an interest in experiencing the dynamism of America and seeing the country for themselves.
IPW is the impressive work of the US Travel Association. Brand USA is its main sponsor. 2018 will see the 50th anniversary of IPW with Denver as the host city. Now hip to what this annual event has to offer – and having never had the pleasure of visiting Denver – I eager to attend once again.
In the days to come, I’ll dig a little deeper into the details of my time at IPW and my impressions about the event with a short series of posts. Until then, check out these sites for more info about traveling to DC and the Capital Region as well as a few about IPW, the US Travel Association and Brand USA: