07 FEB 2018: As sub-zero winter freezes the nation and your clients are relaxing in summer climes, meanwhile a crop of travel professionals headed to the heat of the Big Apple where business and pleasure unite - even in the off season.

Travel professionals attended the 15th annual New York Times Travel Show, held over three days in late January. But this year there was another contender for tourism industry and media, as TravMedia, a travel networking organization's International Media Marketplace USA reported that over 200 international travel brands and nearly 300 PR representatives met with 300 North American media at the impressive all-glass River Pavilion at the Jacob K. Javits Center.

…and the strong attendance resulted despite grumblings from some past attendees at last year's inaugural gathering who felt, "the rooms were too small," or "the seats were touching," whatever that means.

Both shows cater to the tourism industry in unique ways, hoping to bridge gaps. For the NYT Travel Show the new addition is the LGBTQ Pavilion of 10 exhibitors. According to Maggie Kiselick, vice-president of ad partnerships and sales, the timing of the travel show's new LGBTQ section in a city, home to Broadway and other gay-friendly hubs, was well overdue.

"I think people are asking for it. They are asking tips on, 'where can I find that space?'" she tells Travel Industry Today at the Turkish Airlines lounge which was this year's presenting sponsor of the NY Times Travel Show.

Unlike the Travel Show with its components of a trade day, and two consumer days, TravMedia's IMM sees a unique opportunity to connect top producing travel journalists with a collection of international tourism professionals prior to the opening of the largest and longest-running trade and consumer travel show in North America.

"It's a complete deal changer for us," says Nick Wayland, CEO & Founder of TravMedia, describing the success of this year's event.

For travel pros ready to start the New Year with a fresh start, maybe even a bigger bang than last year, either one of these two shows might fit the bill.

Here's the game plan.

Looney Savers

Despite the weak Canadian dollar, it's low season so one can expect cheaper airfare. Air Canada had seat sales just before Christmas.

For those agents skint on a dining or entertainment budget, New York City offers the ever popular Restaurant Week at the end of January www.nycgo.com/restaurantweek. Find fixed price menus at the city's top restaurants and consider closing the deal or wooing your prospective clients in luxe confines. Your pocket book will be happy.

For theatre, Broadway has a two-for-one ticket price. The popular biannual program, now in its eighth year (January 16-Feb 4) offers discounts to 19 exciting shows. www.nycgo.com/broadwayweek.

For attractions, the NYC CityPASS booklet gets you to the front of the line of 9 attractions for more time to enjoy the exhibits with 40 percent off regular admission prices.

For accommodations, yes Airbnb has its pluses but if you're like most conventioneers, you want to stay close to the action, have your bed made, and enjoy the on-site amenities. NYC's lodging landscape is constantly evolving. You will get sleek, modern, glam, pet-friendly, family-friendly, even simple, Spartan suites. The city's hotel room inventory of approximately 116,000 rooms appeal to varied budgets and demographics.

TravMedia Highlights

For TravMedia, the event kicked off with a special pre-event cocktail reception at the new Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. Michael Law, director of marketing (his first foray into Four Seasons was at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto) welcomed TravMedia special guests alongside Nick Wayland at the Greenwich ballroom. The new build which opened in 2016 is opposite the new transportation hub known as the Oculus, steps away from the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The next day attendees convened at the Jacob K. Javits Center (nicely fitting as the venue is also home of the NYT Travel Show). Over 550 guests enjoyed a sit-down lunch to hear the key note speaker, Arnold Donald, CLIA Global chairman and president and CEO of Carnival Corporation release topline results to the '2018 Cruise Travel Report: Annual Study of Attitudes, Behaviors and Travel Preferences.'

Where to Stay

The Moxy NYC Times Square

Location scores high marks - located in the hub of Times Square, near 42nd Street, clients arrive to this converted factory building where a night club atmosphere and natural blonde interiors mysteriously unite. Rooms are designed by Toronto designers Yabu Pushelberg who have honed in on collapsible furniture that hangs off the walls while the amenities have a recyclable theme like the boxed water.

For bedtime, guests are provided with the classic yellow 3M earplugs conveniently displayed bedside and for insomniacs use the retro phone and dial "Bedtime Stories." Themes include "chill out," "go out" or "pass out" from personalities Yogi Jipset Goddess, DJ Kitty Cat, and Blonde Abroad.

The hotel e-brochure says, "Value experiences and community over material possessions, attitude over opulence." Yes - expect a Spartan room but with an edgy hipster vibe where Millennials and Euro corporate-types converge on the second floor lobby lounge with their iphone8s.

Where to eat

Le Rivage Restaurant

Sure, NYC Restaurant Week is in full swing but Le Rivage, a quaint classic French restaurant on Restaurant Row in the theatre district is a local gem that showcases classic French cuisine for theatre diners. Patrons can enjoy a three-course French dinner, and a glass of French wine under US$50. The $39-fixed prix dinner has the largest entree selection I've ever seen for fixed prices - choose from seven. I highly recommend the Bœuf Bourguignon. "It's just like Julia Child's recipe," smiles executive chef and owner Chef Paul Denamiel.

Hit me with a deal

Head to the ever popular TKTS Discount Booth in the heart of Times Square for discounted theatre tickets on Broadway and Off-Broadway. My theatrical treat was catching Uma Thurman starring in her Broadway debut of "The Parisian Woman" on stage at the Hudson Theatre until March 11.

New York Times Travel Show

For the past 15 years The New York Times Travel Show, considered the largest consumer travel trade show in North America, completed its annual big bang approach by having over 550 exhibitors representing more than 170 destinations. The title sponsor was Turkish Airlines. Show organizers report the attendance outperformed previous years. Its estimated 30,000 travellers and industry professional attendees went to talk travel.

The keynote

The standing-room only room was completely packed for the travel industry keynote: State of the Travel Industry. The big message: Travel agents matter. Panelists: Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group, Alejandro Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group, Andrew Stuart, CEO and president of Norgwegian Cruise Line, Guy Young, Global Brand Engagement Officer of The Travel Corporation and Jennifer Tombaugh, president of Tauck discussed the value of travel agents within their sectors as well as industry trends. http://nyttravelshow.com/

Where to Stay

Hilton Millennium Plaza

Located within the UN headquarter complex, guests of Millennium Hilton NY One UN Plaza rub elbows with the foreign dignitaries and heads of state. Offering sweeping views of the New York skyline or East River, the hotel is also conveniently located to Grand Central and top spots such as the Chrysler Building, Times Square and Rockefeller Center.

My Deluxe Corner King Room overlooking the East River and the UN had floor to ceiling windows. By day I woke up to sunrise over the river and by night the glittering skyline shone like diamonds in a jewel box. The luxe view added to the spacious interior and the amenities felt like a personal NYC apartment. Skyline Club members have access to the 30th floor for morning and early evening casual eats.

Where to eat

Bouley at Home  There's a unique concept of time i.e. you slow down and let busy Manhattan buzz behind you - where fresh obsessed diners can choose to dine by an open concept table station or the dimly lit French boudoir setting flanked with a Steinway and Sons Grand Piano amid quirky art pieces. The framed autographed photo of the late M. Paul Bocuse had me in tears as I was a big fan and he had died in France a few days before my visit.

Hit me with a deal

One afternoon, after a day of back-to-back meetings I headed uptown via NYC's public transit (US$10 NYC Metro card) to hang out at The Met (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) for a must-do free one-hour museum tour. Joan, my volunteer tour guide, whisked my group to check out King Henry VIII's last armour, the rare Vermeer "Young Woman and a Water Pitcher," and the exquisite family portrait of Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children by the French Impressionist Auguste Renoir.

Like the Big Apple, the Met has always been an endless smorgasbord of art where one is never sure where to start - but it sure felt good taking a bite out of both while mixing business with pleasure.


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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

Read more from Ilona Kauremszky

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