Earlier this month, representatives from the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau were in London for World Travel Market—the largest travel trade show in the English-speaking world.
“The U.K. is Philadelphia’s No. 1 international feeder market bringing 87,000 visitors to our city in 2014, with travel from Ireland to Philadelphia also growing quickly,” says Nick DeBenedictis. Board chairman. “Attending WTM enabled us to reinforce Philadelphia’s commitment to excellence in the customer experience, as well as to international partnerships and initiatives that support sustained growth from the U.K. and Ireland travel markets to our city and the region.”
More than 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government officials and press from across the globe attend the trade show to conduct business and network. The PHLCVB and partners collectively made 75 appointments with receptive tour operators, travel agents and international media during the show.
At WTM, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K., Director General of the U.K.’s Border Force and the U.S.Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, announced the expansion of Global Entry to U.K. citizens which would allow expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Philadelphia currently has seven daily flights from the U.K. and Ireland.
“With daily flights to PHL and the expansion of the Global Entry program to U.K. citizens it becomes even easier for visitors to choose Philadelphia as their gateway into the U.S.,” says Jack Ferguson president/CEO. “With the recent Papal visit giving Philadelphia unprecedented exposure across the globe, the PHLCVB is working to keep that momentum going and bring even more overseas visitors to the city.”
While there, the PHLCVB participated in and launched several initiatives to further promote travel to Philadelphia such as the Brand USA MegaFam Finale, which brought the 100 top-selling travel agents from the U.K. and Ireland to Philadelphia earlier this year. The organization also debuted a customized training module for travel agents as part of Brand USA’s USA Discovery Program, which encourages agents from across the U.K. to become accredited Philadelphia specialists, earning a Philadelphia Specialist badge.
“The program allows travel agents to learn everything they need to know about the birthplace of America, including information on the city’s dining, nightlife, accommodations, excellent tax-free shopping, unique attractions and ease of access from the U.K.,” says Brian Said, executive director of tourism. “This is the first step in centralizing our agent education efforts in our primary feeder markets, making it more convenient for top sellers to learn more about Philadelphia through Brand USA’s infrastructure. We will be rolling this out to other markets in the near future.”