‘We know how to do tourism:’ Tahoe Blue Event Center hosts tourism industry conference

‘We know how to do tourism:’ Tahoe Blue Event Center hosts tourism industry conference

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Hundreds of members of the travel industry descended on Lake Tahoe this week for the 36th annual Go West Summit.

Each year, buyers and suppliers who work in the travel industry, specifically tourism based in the American West, are given the opportunity to network and sign contracts.

Providers include visitor bureaus, lodging properties, winter and summer resorts, adventure furnishings, shopping facilities, sightseeing and attractions, air tours, and more. They can be anything from international companies, such as Costco Travel, to small niche companies.

Buyers are established suppliers of prepackaged travel. This year, 20 countries were represented by buyers.

The summit was held from February 26 to 29. On the first day, attendees were given a tour of Lake Tahoe’s hotels and accommodations, followed by dinner at the Riva Grill.

Before the event, buyers go online to fill out a profile, preferences and what they are looking for during the meeting. Then they schedule meetings with the suppliers.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, attendees spent the day in meetings and came prepared to close deals.

The meetings lasted 12 minutes and were back-to-back over two days.
Laney Griffo / Tahoe Daily Tribune

The meetings are held in a large room, with rows and rows of tables. Vendors stay in one place and buyers move from table to table.

Like speed dating, dating is 12 minutes long and they only have that much time to make a deal. After 12 minutes are up, shoppers find their next appointment. Each attendee has the opportunity for up to 73 meetings. Over 8,000 appointments were made this year.

“They are here to do business and they are doing business,” said Mary Motsenbocker, president of Go West.

In 2023, buyers expected to bring more than 4.6 million visitors to the American West as a direct result of contracts signed at the event. Buyers signed contracts worth more than $3.3 million.

The return on investment from the 2023 Go West Summit is expected to bring $27 million to the business over an 18-month period.

This is the first time in its 36-year history that the Go West Summit has been held in Lake Tahoe, and there was no better place to host the event than the Tahoe Blue Event Center.

When the event center was proposed, it was offered as an opportunity not only for concerts, but also for industry conferences that previously did not have a home in the region.

“This is one of several industry conferences that we have attracted. The great thing about it is that it really shows what the event center does for the community,” said Carol Chaplin, Lake Tahoe Visitor Authority and President/CEO of the Douglas Tahoe Visitor Authority.

Motsenbocker said it has a big home advantage. On the last day of the meeting, attendees had an adventurous day filled with snow activities, boat tours, a tour of the region’s Native American history, and trips to Virginia City. So buyers can experience the region first hand and can give personal recommendations to their customers when putting together packages.

Also, Tuesday night was a free night, so the more than 400 attendees had the opportunity to eat and drink out on the town.

Nevada Lt. Governor Stavros Anthony attended the event.
Laney Griffo / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Nevada Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony, who also chairs the Nevada Tourism Commission, attended Tuesday’s event and spoke during the luncheon.

“When it comes to tourism, it’s our number one industry in the state of Nevada, so any time we can showcase our tourism industry to other states, we’re honored to do so,” Lt. Gov. Anthony told the Tribune. “We know how to do tourism here in the state, we know how to do Super Bowls, we know how to do things in Northern Nevada, we know how to do rural tourism.”

He went on to say that Western countries are in this together, so he is happy to help surrounding countries build their industries as well.

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