These days, it seems like there are only a handful of speakers who can draw a big crowd at travel shows: Arthur and Pauline Frommer, Patricia Schultz (of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die fame), Samantha Brown, and me. And we’re hired as headliners to help get people to attend travel shows at big cities around the USA. People pay $12 to stoke their travel dreams by browsing through hundreds of booths representing everything from Yosemite to Yap. And they go to the various theaters to hear from travel experts or celebrities. There’s usually folk dancing, cooking demos, zip lines, rock-climbing walls, and Segway trials to boot.
While I could spend many more weekends on the road at these events, I limit my bookings to four a year. I just finished trips to Chicago and San Jose, and I’ll be in Los Angeles and Washington DC in February. Learn more at Adventure Expo.com.
(Photos by Trish Feaster, http://thetravelphile.com/)
For the last couple of shows, my partner Trish and I have enjoyed double dates with Samantha Brown and her husband. This shot is called “Two Travel Hosts and a Crab.” Samantha is as delightful off camera as she is on.
The Rick Steves’ Europe booth is designed to sell tours. We staff it with three tour guides and hand out our promotional material. We gave away 4,000 tour newsletters in two days last weekend in San Jose.
I give three talks over each weekend (two on Saturday and one on Sunday). They are generally standing room only. This talk, last weekend in San Jose, had close to 1,000 people in attendance.
After each talk, I autograph books. While the standard practice is for the author to sit at a table and autograph books one by one, as people wait in a long, slow-moving line, I have innovated a new and much more efficient way to sign autographs for several hundred people. I say, “Pretend you’re in Italy and just crowd around me. I’ll turn slowly clockwise, autographing whatever’s in front of me as I spin. Out of respect to those waiting for an autograph, and because it takes forever for someone else to figure out your phone camera, I won’t pose for photos — although you’re welcome to snap whatever you like as I autograph.” This method works great, people are thankful not to wait an hour in line for a simple autograph, and I enjoy meeting lots of great travelers.
I get to meet an amazing array of people at these shows, and they bring me lots of interesting things to autograph. In Chicago, someone brought a photo of a younger me Photoshopped onto the body of someone who really enjoys Greek sculpture. While little surprises me anymore, this was certainly creative!