personal reflections

Making Contact at International Pow Wow 2011 San Francisco

Here is another reflection piece geared for bloggers and travel writers about U.S. Travel Association International Pow Wow 2011 San Francisco to promote U.S. tourism to international visitors. This piece encapsulates the actual value of the four day event for me as Loyalty Traveler. I’ll get back to my bread and butter focus on hotel loyalty programs after this post.
International Pow Wow May 21-25, 2011 San Francisco - U.S. Travel Association

Meeting influential people and making contacts is essential in the travel writing business as in any business if you want to grow and move beyond your present standing in the industry. The days of Pow Wow San Francisco 2011 were formal contact sessions. Small contact meetings from 9am to 5 pm for 20 minute blocks in Moscone Center convention hall went on all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with a one hour lunch break loaded with entertainers.

Hyatt Hotels booth International Pow Wow 2011 San Francisco

Some examples of travel suppliers present were a specific hotel property like Fontainebleau Miami or all the major hotel chains like Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group and many others or a tourism board like southeastern Utah.

Hawaiian Islands tourism section at International Pow Wow 2011 San Francisco

Every area of the United States had representatives attending Pow Wow 2011 including booths for Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

U.S. Virgin Islands booth at International Pow Wow 2011 San Francisco

Media had a day of press events to attend pitches for entertainment parks in Orlando, Los Angeles as 2012 Pow Wow host city and LAX improvements coming for 2013, U.S. Travel Association briefing on Corporation for Travel Promotion and a press conference on the opening of the 9/11 memorial in New York City this September. provides online communication and a connection center for tourism industry professionals and media journalists. Registering with the site allows journalists and freelancers to hook up with U.S. Travel Association member contacts.

Discover America Travel Writer Awards - Monday, May 23

70,000 meetings reportedly took place in three days of Pow Wow 2011 and many of these were one-on-one contacts between a buyer and supplier or a supplier and a journalist.

I found myself born here in California - lucky, I guess.

Informal events during the evenings of International Pow Wow 2011 are where I made my most significant contacts. Meeting other travel writers to share stories with and talk about professional business as a blogger is engaging and uplifting. Attendees I met were from so many different backgrounds and countries and most everyone had entertaining stories to share with me. These are people who I now feel connected with to follow and hopefully see again by next year. Making contact is important for developing a professional network of colleagues; particularly when working most of my time in solitude as a writer and travel blogger.

Pull my string and I do my thing 

Pow Wow 2011 was a great opportunity to make travel industry contacts. I am truly impressed by the well-ordered 5-day event for over 5,000 convention delegates. U.S. Travel Association and the city of San Francisco put on a full-scale over-the-top production. The entertainment provided for guests was high caliber talent with a variety of singers and dancers who performed during the convention.

singer at Ferry Building Press Morning May 22 PowWow 2011 San Francisco


Can I get you a drink? 

Each evening event had dozens of tables where complimentary alcohol was available and there was some real drinking going on. 

And why not?

90% of the wine made in the U.S. comes from vineyards within a few hours drive of San Francisco.  A tourism promotion conference for the United States generates a lot of interest from California wineries.

Kimpton Hotels hospitality cabana at Ultimate San Francisco Party May 25

I just hope there is a better beer selection at Pow Wow 2011 in Los Angeles, since I am not much of a wine drinker these days.

The convention brought 5,500 Pow Wow attendees to San Francisco and many of these people also brought additional family members and friends on the trip. 

Pow Wow had three evening events. On Sunday night from 7 to 11 pm at Fisherman’s Wharf, the entire Pier 39 complex was reserved exclusively for Pow Wow delegates. Restaurants and bars were open and complimentary.

Center Stage Pier 39 - International Pow Wow 2011 San Francisco

Even Aquarium of the Bay was open and wonderfully uncrowded during my visit.

Aquarium by the Bay - PowWow 2011 San Francisco

After the live band stopped Sunday night people were hustled out of the Pier 39 bars and back into the streets. I thought I was going to walk 30 minutes back to my hotel with a couple of other journalists. Many people jumped in taxis for direct access back to their hotels, at a cost. The buses shuttling delegates back to Union Square and Moscone Center were a bit of a walk from Pier 39. Back to the hotel, drunk at midnight and asleep by 12:15am. 

California Academy of Sciences San Francisco - booth at Pow Wow 2011

Tuesday at Golden Gate Park in the California Academy of Sciences seemed really crowded to me. The entertainment was great, food less so and the beer selection excluded European brands with one particular California microbrew seemingly locked into exclusive sponsorship of the beer drinking market for the last two nights of Pow Wow evening parties. 

SFO and several airlines hosted parties including Air France/Skyteam, Lufthansa, United and Virgin Atlantic. SFO served seafood outside the museum.

SFO hosting California Academy of Sciences party Golden Gate Park at Pow Wow 2011 San Francisco

Inside the museum Lufthansa hosted an area serving sausages, Virgin Atlantic pasta, United Airlines had Asian food and Air France middle east cuisine with cheeses and fruit downstairs in the aquarium.

Air France offered Middle Eastern food and entertainment with belly dancers.

Lufthansa caught my attention with a young woman from the audience, not pictured here, who went out and danced the polka in high heels with this guy in costume shown here.

Lufthansa entertainment at California Academy of Sciences San Francisco - Pow Wow 2011


My wife and I discussed how we both had a fascination with the pendulum clock in the California Academy of Sciences as a childhood memory when we were little kids in the 1960s in San Francisco.  


Pendulum clock in California Academy of Sciences San Francisco

Wednesday night was the closing evening of International Pow Wow 2011 and the Ultimate San Francisco Party was held at San Francisco Civic Center with parties inside and outside the City Hall building.



Outside was the California Pavilion with live music and a dance club and rows of wine tent cabanas hosted by hotels and wineries.

Starwood Hotels cabana at Ultimate San Francisco Party Pow Wow 2011
 Inside San Francisco City Hall, after clearing the security metal detector checkpoints, guests had three areas for parties.
Harvey Milk Statue San Francisco City Hall

The City Hall Rotunda featured string music on the grand stairway and the south hall had 60s rock music Summer of Love, henna tattoos and face decoration. North Hall was Castro Club for a gay time with club music.

Some serious sugar for Ultimate San Francisco Party - Pow Wow 2011.
The ferris wheel was a fun way to see San Francisco City Hall and say goodbye to the city that hosted Pow Wow 2011 for five days in May 2011.  I can’t wait to be in Los Angeles for 2012.
San Francisco City Hall view from ferris wheel at Pow Wow 2011.


  • Mary Jo Manzanares June 1, 2011

    It was great to meet you, and spend a least some of that evening socializing talking about this crazy business.

  • Jennifer June 1, 2011

    What fun it was hanging out with you. The exhibitors were really on their game, and the parties top-notch…but it’s the developing of professional friendships that keeps bringing me back to Pow Wow. 🙂

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