The Rocky Mountain region is becoming more attractive to visitors from Western Europe every year, and local travel officials say it's time Utah County went after those travelers.
That's why Michael Mack, director of the Utah County Travel Council, and Darrell L. Cook, of the Mountainlands Association of Governments, will travel to Paris next week to attend the Travel Industry Association of America's POW-WOW conference.The four-day conference, Oct. 28-31, is a meeting place for travel agents, tour providers, travel bureaus and vacation organizers from throughout the world. The travel bureaus and travel providers will try to sell their products to the vacation organizers and tour operators.
Mack and Cook will travel as part of a group representing travel bureaus from the Rocky Mountain area. Individual booths will be manned by representatives from each area. They will try to bring attention to the variety of attractions the Rocky Mountain area has to offer.
"Many Europeans are not likely to know where Utah is, let alone Utah County," Mack said. "So we will feature the things we have around here, but we will start off regionally."
"Our goal is to raise the awareness of vacation providers as to what we have to offer here in Utah and Utah County," Cook said.
Mack said at most conferences there are more representatives from the supply side of travel, and it is often difficult to attract the attention of travel packagers. But he said the opposite will be true at this conference. He said there will be many more vacation organizers than there will be suppliers. Mack and Cook said they will be busy and have appointments scheduled every 15 minutes.
"They'll be beating our door down to hear what we have to say," Mack said.
Mack and Cook attend many travel conferences, but this will be the first one overseas. Previous POW-WOWs have been held in the United States. They said this conference will be different and will give them a chance to test the European market.The cost of attending most conferences is about $1,700. This conference will cost the travel council about $2,500. Mack's trip was approved unanimously by the 10-member Utah County Travel Council.
But though he did not vote for or against the trip, County Commissioner Malcolm Beck said the trip is one that Mack does not need to take. He said by going Mack will be duplicating services and there is nothing he will accomplish that other state travel officials cannot accomplish. He said the taxpayers' money could be better spent elsewhere.
"He's not going to obtain any information that the others couldn't get," Beck said.
Mack said the travel council is funded from transient room taxes, which come from tourists and not from Utah County's coffers. The money has to be spent on promoting tourism, and attending this conference is not a significant departure from the past.
"I wouldn't be going if my board didn't think it was worth it," Mack said. "We're there to make our own sales pitch and unique approach. It will be business as usual, just in a different place."
"Many Europeans are not likely to know where Utah is, let alone Utah County. So we will feature the things we have around here, but we will start off regionally." - Michael Mack, Utah County Travel Council director