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IPW18 DENVER BEGINS: Bears, B52's, Birthdays and Business time

Delegates in Denver woke up early to blue skies and sunshine this morning to herald the official start of IPW18 at the Denver Convention Centre.

Delegates in Denver woke up early to blue skies and sunshine this morning to herald the official start of IPW18 at the Denver Convention Centre.

Flicking breakfast TV on in my hotel room, I woke up to the news that local bears are waking up early too from hibernating and that one, in particular, had been scared off scavenging for food in a locals garden by rattling pots and pans.

That made me laugh on a Monday morning. Check this cute guy out below.


The suspect bear now on the run. Pic CBS

Funny too then, that a beloved 40-foot high blue bear sculpture adorns the Denver Convention Centre with his nose pressed against the window and is also the mascot for IPW18. Everyone it seems loves bears in Colorado.

The show is celebrating its 50th ‘golden’ year, and over the last few days, Visit Denver has warmly welcomed 6,000 buyers, suppliers and media from all over the world to the Mile High City and put on a masterclass in hospitality.

Read all about my arrival in Denver here.


It’s a bit like the United Nations being here with 70 different markets represented and the sound of multilingual chat everywhere you go. IPW is a massive trade show and America’s annual chance to showcase all of its tourism charms to the world.

The show is the most significant driver of travel to the U.S which has also proven to generate over 700,000 new foreign visitors and $1.7 billion in new tourism revenue for host cities within three years. 100,000 meetings will take place in the coming three days.


One snippet of the vast show floor

In his opening address, Brand USA CEO & President Chris Thompson said;

“Our objective is to promote the 50 states of America and to focus on the destinations, the experiences and the people. We want to correct any misconceptions people might have along the way and ensure we tell stories that go from mobile to giant screen and everything in between“.


News of the Mega fam YOU need to be on


After the official opening, there was also the HUGE announcement for Australian and New Zealand Travel Agents of an epic MegaFam to the U.S in August with partners Air New Zealand.

This MegaFam is an incentive that will see 60 Aussie and Kiwi agents fly to the U.S from the 16-23rd of August to experience an incredible musical themed journey ending in Las Vegas.

Read all about that here.


The Loveshack lunch for 6,000 and the B-52’s


The B-52’s rock the Loveshack

I don’t think I’ve ever sat down for lunch with 6,000 people before. But there’s a first time for everything.

Daily lunchtimes at IPW see speeches and high-end entertainment and today was no exception with a celebratory look back at the 50 evolving years of IPW. From humble beginnings in 1969 in New York to 6,000 people in Denver today, the show has indeed been on a long journey of its own.


And then the B-52’s came on! Just like that, belting out all of their hits including – Loveshack (of course!), Rock Lobster, Private Idaho, Roam (The travel Agents anthem according to fellow lead singer Kate Pierson) and Mesopotamia.

One minute we were at a travel show, the next at a festival. And the crowd loved it.

“Tell your friends about us” were Fred Schneider’s parting words as the band walked off stage. Gold.

Tonight will see another Denver extravaganza at The Denver Bronco’s Mile High Stadium with delegates in for another big night of Colorado entertainment so stay tuned for more on that tomorrow.

Find out more about IPW:


READ: GET ON IT: Brand USA announce music MegaFam with Air NZ this August

READ: Denver Colorado welcomes the world for IPW18 and its big 5-0

Have you been to Denver before? Did you see any bears? Share your thoughts below.