Building Relationships at IPW 2024 in Los Angeles

Building Relationships at IPW 2024 in Los Angeles
21 Jun 2024

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I recently had the pleasure of attending the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW trade show in Los Angeles, California. As the premier international inbound travel trade show in the industry, this event highlights U.S. destinations, travel products, and services to leading travel buyers and media professionals from over 60 countries.

Previous IPW events have facilitated over $5.5 billion in future travel by linking media writers and travel buyers with U.S. travel exhibitors showcasing their destinations.


2024 IPW Overview from U.S. Travel

This year’s event attracted over 5,000 delegates from around the globe, featuring more than 100,000 face-to-face appointments. As a travel journalist, I was thrilled to participate and discover the best of what the U.S. destinations have to offer. The experience was both incredible and rewarding.

lobby at intercontinental los angeles downtown ipw 2024 california

InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown

Situated in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities, the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown redefines luxury and sophistication. Perched atop the iconic Wilshire Grand Center and in close proximity to the Los Angeles Convention Center, this towering gem offered us an unparalleled experience from the moment we arrived. With breathtaking views, meticulously designed rooms, exceptional dining options, and world-class amenities, the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown ensured we had an unforgettable stay in the City of Angels.

discover los angeles team at the getty ipw 2024 los angeles california

Press Brunch at The Getty

The press brunch at The Getty Center provided an intellectually stimulating start to the day, set against the backdrop of stunning architecture and breathtaking views of Los Angeles. Hosted amidst the tranquil gardens and sleek galleries, attendees enjoyed a spread that reflected the diversity and sophistication of California cuisine. Following the brunch, participants embarked on a self-guided tour of the museum’s extensive collection, featuring masterpieces ranging from classical antiquities to modern art.

press brunch at the getty center ipw 2024 los angeles california

The opportunity to explore at one’s own pace allowed for a deep dive into renowned artworks and sculptures, complemented by insightful exhibitions that illuminated the cultural richness housed within The Getty. It was a morning filled with culinary delights and artistic enlightenment, offering a perfect blend of gastronomic pleasures and intellectual exploration.

warner bros studio hollywood craig with sign ipw 2024 los angeles california

Press Tour of Warner Bros. Studios

My press tour at Warner Bros. Studio Hollywood was a mesmerizing journey into the heart of filmmaking magic. The experience began with a captivating Storytelling Showcase, where the rich history and iconic legacy of Warner Bros. were brought to life through engaging narratives and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. We were then welcomed to a deluxe screening room for a special film that set the stage for the immersive adventure ahead.

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One of the highlights of the tour was exploring Hennesy Street, a versatile backlot known for its appearances in popular TV shows like “Entourage”, “Friends”, and “Sex and the City”, as well as blockbuster films such as “Spider-Man” and 3 movies in the “Batman” franchise.

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Fellow fans of “Friends” were delighted to see the iconic Central Perk couch and the famous fountain from the opening scene, providing perfect photo opportunities that captured the essence of this beloved series.

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Beyond the nostalgia, the tour ventured into Warner Bros.’ expansive backlot sets, offering a glimpse into the meticulously crafted environments that bring stories to life on screen. The “Action and Magic Made Here” section showcased intricate costumes, props, and sets from the DC Universe and the magical worlds of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts.

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This immersive experience not only celebrated the artistry and craftsmanship behind filmmaking but also provided an insider’s look into some of Hollywood’s most iconic productions, making it a must-visit for film enthusiasts and pop culture aficionados.

los angeles memorial coliseum at night ipw 2024 california

Opening Event at Memorial Coliseum

The Opening Event at Memorial Coliseum set a spectacular tone for IPW, showcasing the best of Los Angeles’ vibrant culture and culinary scene. Hosted by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, the event featured a diverse array of food vendors, each offering a taste of the city’s rich and varied cuisine. Complementing the delicious food was an array of drinks, from craft cocktails to local wines and beers, ensuring that every attendee found something to delight their palate.

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The Olympic Torch Tower was lit in all its glory, serving as a powerful and symbolic moment during the opening event. The brilliant flames illuminated the night sky, paying homage to the Coliseum’s rich history as a host of the Olympic Games and symbolizing the enduring spirit of athletic excellence and international unity.

diana ross at los angeles memorial coliseum ipw 2024 california

Adding to the evening’s allure was an exclusive performance by the legendary Diana Ross. Her captivating presence and iconic voice entertained the audience, making it a night to remember. The event was not just a showcase of the city’s offerings but also a testament to its ability to host grand and memorable gatherings, leaving attendees eagerly anticipating the rest of the conference.

entrance to california plaza ipw 2024 los angeles california

California Plaza at the Los Angeles Convention Center

The California Plaza Activation at IPW was a standout feature, offering an immersive and dynamic experience that brought the Golden State to life. With more than 30 partners investing in this high-impact, multi-million-dollar initiative, the activation successfully created meaningful points of connection for attendees. Each partner contributed unique elements that showcased the diverse attractions and experiences California has to offer, making it a must-visit destination within the conference.

california plaza ipw 2024 los angeles california

Inspired by its Ultimate Playground brand platform, Visit California curated a strategic program aimed to entertain the delegates of IPW. This thoughtfully designed program included a variety of interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, delicious food and drink, and engaging presentations that highlighted the state’s vibrant culture, scenic landscapes, and iconic destinations. The California Plaza Activation not only captured the essence of the state but also provided an excellent opportunity for networking and collaboration among industry professionals.

christopher thompson ceo brand usa ipw 2024 los angeles california

Bringing the World to America

IPW is the travel industry’s premier global marketplace, bringing together travel professionals from around the world to promote and discover the best of American tourism. Hosted annually by the U.S. Travel Association, IPW showcases diverse destinations, attractions, and travel services across the United States through a series of business appointments, networking events, press conferences, and educational sessions. It serves as a vital platform for building international tourism business, fostering partnerships, and highlighting the cultural and natural wonders that make the U.S. a top travel destination. With its dynamic blend of business opportunities and cultural exchange, IPW plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of travel and tourism by connecting industry leaders, travel buyers, and media in an immersive and impactful setting.

media marketplace ipw 2024 los angeles california

Media Marketplace & Marketplace Hall

On the first day of the conference, I attended the media marketplace where I engaged in 20 business meetings. These discussions were incredibly enriching, as I learned about a wide array of destinations, and made some very valuable connections. Though the speed-dating style marketplace was an exhausting gauntlet, I felt a sense of satisfaction for having the opportunity to participate.

I was thoroughly impressed by the various pavilions showcasing different U.S. destinations. Each pavilion offered something unique and exciting, from the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon to the busy streets of New York City. I discovered many incredible attractions and destinations that I am eager to visit. I was able to meet with an additional 50 destinations on days two and three. The representatives at each pavilion were friendly and enthusiastic, eager to share detailed information about their locations. I enjoyed collecting the brochures and information packs, which will be invaluable when contacting them to participate in solo or group press trips. Additionally, the generous swag they handed out added a fun and memorable touch to the experience.

utah press conference ipw 2024 los angeles california

Destination Press Conferences

The press conferences provided an invaluable platform for various travel organizations and tourism boards to present their latest initiatives and updates. Brand USA kicked off the series with a compelling presentation on their efforts to promote the diverse attractions of the United States to international travellers. The U.S. Travel Association followed, highlighting industry trends and forecasting future travel patterns that are set to shape the tourism landscape.

tennessee press conference ipw 2024 los angeles california

Several regional tourism boards also took the stage to showcase their unique offerings. The Utah Office of Tourism captivated the audience with its breathtaking landscapes used in filming many movies, while Destination DC emphasized the capital’s rich history and cultural experiences. New York City Tourism & Conventions presented exciting updates on Broadway shows and new attractions, and Visit Lauderdale highlighted its sunny beaches and vibrant arts scene. The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and Meet Boston each shared insights into their distinctive local charms and upcoming events.

chicago press conference ipw 2024 los angeles california

Visit San Antonio, the past host city, reflected on the success of 2023’s event and its positive impact on local tourism. Choose Chicago offered a sneak peek into what attendees can expect in 2025, including an incredible performance by local DJs spinning house music, which originated in the Windy City. Each press conference not only informed but also inspired, demonstrating the diversity of destinations and experiences available across the United States, and underscoring the collaborative spirit of the travel industry.

dogstar keanu reeves ipw 2024 los angeles california

Lunch Time Entertainment

The lunchtime entertainment at IPW was a spectacular showcase of diverse performances, adding a vibrant and exciting atmosphere to the event. Sponsored by Brand USA, attendees were treated to a live performance by Dogstar, featuring the renowned Keanu Reeves. The band delivered an electrifying set, captivating the audience with their unique sound and Reeves’ star presence, making for an unforgettable musical experience.

Adding to the cultural feast, New York City Tourism & Conventions brought the magic of Broadway to IPW. Performances included excerpts from popular shows like “Back to the Future” and “MJ“, each bringing a taste of New York’s world-famous theater scene to the attendees.

ziggy marley ipw 2024 los angeles california

Experience Kissimmee sponsored a dynamic performance by Ziggy Marley, whose reggae rhythms and charismatic stage presence created an exhilarating and uplifting experience. These lunchtime acts not only provided entertainment but also highlighted the diverse attractions and talents the U.S. has to offer.

craig on santa monica pier ipw 2024 los angeles california

Party On The Pier

Hosted by Visit Santa Monica, the Party On Santa Monica Pier was a delightful and memorable event that allowed attendees to experience the charm of one of California’s most picturesque landmarks. Guests had the opportunity to spend time on the iconic pier, where they could watch the waves crash on the beach, adding a serene backdrop to the festivities.

pacific wheel santa monica pier ipw 2024 los angeles california

We were given access to the rides at Pacific Park, which brought out the inner child in everyone, while an array of delicious food options satisfied every craving. Adding to the vibrant atmosphere were talented buskers performing along the pier, providing lively entertainment and creating a magical evening by the ocean.

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Networking and Relationship Building

The IPW conference offered an outstanding opportunity to network with industry professionals and vendors. Throughout the event, I engaged with travel agencies, tour operators, hoteliers, and providers of various experiences from across the United States. These face-to-face interactions were invaluable for establishing new connections and solidifying existing partnerships. The chance to meet in person added a personal touch that is often missing in virtual communications, fostering deeper and more meaningful professional relationships.

Additionally, the conference provided the perfect opportunity to reconnect with friends, Destination Marketing Organizations and Public Relations representatives I have collaborated with in the past. It was wonderful to catch up with familiar faces and reminisce about our experiences from previous conferences and press trips. Meeting some of the attendees I had previously connected with in San Antonio last year added an element of camaraderie and continuity to the event. The combination of professional networking and personal reconnections made the IPW conference a truly enriching and enjoyable experience.

universal studios hollywood entrance ipw 2024 los angeles california

Closing Event at Universal Studios Hollywood

The Closing Event at Universal Studios Hollywood was an unforgettable experience. Welcomed warmly by the enthusiastic staff, we were immersed in the magic of the park, encountering beloved characters like Beetlejuice, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, Marilyn Monroe, Shrek, the Grinch, and the Corpse Bride along the way.

universal studios hollywood craig with beetlejuice ipw 2024 los angeles california

The evening was made even more special with exclusive access to the park from 7pm to 10pm, allowing us to explore all the rides, attractions, and restaurants at our leisure.

warner bros studio hollywood potions class ipw 2024 los angeles california

As a devoted Harry Potter fan, I spent a lot of my time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Dining at the Three Broomsticks, with its dimly lit ambiance and hearty fare, was a highlight. Sipping on cold butterbeers while wandering through the shops and experiencing magical moments made me feel like I had stepped right into the pages of J.K. Rowling’s books.

universal studios hollywood craig with corpse bride ipw 2024 los angeles california

Later, I indulged in a classic funnel cake paired with a creamy vanilla milkshake at Mel’s Diner. Complete with golden oldies playing on the jukebox, this iconic 50s-style drive-in restaurant perfectly captured the nostalgic charm of American Graffiti. The Closing Event at Universal Studios Hollywood was a perfect blend of cinematic wonder, delectable dining, and cherished memories that celebrated the magic of movies and the joy of shared experiences.

chicago booth ipw 2024 los angeles california

See You in Chicago at IPW 2025!

If you’re a travel journalist (domestic or international), I highly recommend attending the IPW conference. This event stands out as the most exceptional travel conference I have ever experienced. The opportunities for networking, discovering new destinations, and engaging with industry professionals are unparalleled. Each pavilion is a treasure trove of information and inspiration, making it an invaluable resource for anyone in the travel writing field.

The IPW conference offers a unique platform to build connections, learn about the latest trends and developments in the travel industry, and gain firsthand experience of diverse U.S. destinations. The insights and contacts gained here can significantly enhance your work and expand your horizons. Personally, I found it to be an incredibly enriching and enjoyable experience, one that I look forward to every year.

Mark your calendars for the next IPW conference in Chicago, Illinois, from May 14th to 18th, 2025.


Craig Silva

Craig is a passionate and seasoned travel, food, and lifestyle writer, whose words paint vivid pictures of the world's most captivating destinations. His work not only inspires others to embark on their own adventures but also fosters a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of our world. He captures the essence of each locale, offering readers a glimpse into the cultures, landscapes, cuisine, and experiences that make travel so enriching. Craig is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the International Travel Writers Alliance (ITWA). If you are a PR agency or brand and would like Craig to review a travel destination, vehicle, restaurant, product or service, please send him an email.

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