Introducing SLO County to the World at IPW 2018

by: Ashlee Akers, VP/Client Services

IPW (International Pow Wow) is an international travel trade show that results in billions of dollars of travel to the United States. It’s a chance for representatives across the globe to meet one another, make connections and introduce people to their region – a huge opportunity to bring in new travelers, and this year once again, our very own San Luis Obispo County was represented!

I attended IPW on behalf of Verdin’s client, Visit Atascadero, as part of a co-op with Visit SLO CAL. It was a whirlwind of a week to say the least!

At the very beginning of the conference, Visit California gathered all representatives from California destinations to share about the overarching trends the state is seeing, the big goals for the coming year and the core international markets we are targeting as a state.

Then it was time to meet and mingle! In just three days, I had 42 appointments with influencers around the world. These “tour operators” are the people who build itineraries and introduce people from their home markets to new destinations, so it was an amazing experience to meet with them face-to-face

In each new meeting, the representatives from SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County) got to share what makes our county unique. I explained in particular how the town of Atascadero complements the region’s coastal experience with hiking, ziplining, wine tasting, craft beer, cider and more.

I loved not only sharing about our beautiful destination, but also meeting industry professionals from around the world. It was fascinating to learn how travelers’ desires vary from region to region, and felt great to make connections with people that I know are going to fall in love with San Luis Obispo County.

From here, we will introduce the tour operators who were interested in our region to specific hotels and excursions in Atascadero and throughout the Central Coast. That will help the tour operators plan itineraries and ultimately bring more travel groups to SLO County.

In true tourism industry fashion, IPW included some big-name entertainment, too! We adventured in Denver, enjoyed Broadway performances from New York and danced to the B-52s. We concluded the week by singing along with One Republic at Red Rock Amphitheater.

I’m already looking forward to IPW 2019, and guess what – it will be held in Anaheim, California! Check it out at

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