Efficient Traveling in 2018: Sanity-Saving Tips for Event Planners

January 30, 2018

Rich Vallaster

Rich Vallaster serves as the Director of Professional services at a2z Inc., where he mentors and coaches a diverse team of talented professionals, as well as actively manages strategic accounts and ensures client success. Rich has worked on both sides of the “booth,” from co-founding an annual conference and trade show to speaking and exhibiting at over a dozen shows a year.

Having just reviewed my numerous hotel and airline accounts, I was reminded of how much I traveled in 2017. Most of my trips were visiting and training clients, helping conduct booth sales or attending industry shows.

Event professionals spend a great deal of time on the road to prepare for and attend their events. Over the years, I have developed a few ways to cope with life on the road. Hope these tips help you in 2018 and beyond!

Staying Organized

Along with all the various travel partner apps (airline, rail, hotel, etc.), the TripIt app is great for keeping all travel confirmations, restaurant reservations and flight schedules in one place. DropBox is another tool to keep documents, presentations and other important files easily available from any device or web browser.

Duplicate Digital Accessories

Keeping an extra set of charging cords/plugs, laptop power, earphones, batteries and other items permanently packed in your travel bag is necessary to never be without power, or the need to purchase them at marked-up rates at hotels, airports or convenience stores. The same applies to keeping a dedicated toiletry bag to never be without the essentials. If possible, keep both items in a bag that is not checked so they cannot get lost in transit.

Invest in the Best

From your carry-on bag to roller boards, investing in a set of quality luggage will provide years of good use. Paying premium prices upfront will probably end up saving you in resources and time in the long run with useful features that make packing and lugging heavier bags easier.

Eat Right

Unfortunately, traveling frequently disrupts daily routines and sleep patterns. Staying hydrated is critical. I try to pack high protein snacks and energy bars should I need a quick boost or a meal replacement if necessary. It saves time and money from purchasing these or worst yet, candy bars from the minibar.


Most hotels have a gym and ever more hotel chains are providing their guests with workout gear. Even if you skip the gym and just take a walk to explore the city you are in, getting some exercise will keep your body and mind in a better place.

Talk to Experts

Let’s face it, flight crews spend their daily lives in different cities attempting to maintain a healthy regimen. If I am in an unfamiliar airport or heading to an unfamiliar city, I always ask the crew for recommendations. Not only will it pass the time in flight but they are also often pleased to share their knowledge.

TSA PreCheck

Eighty-five dollars will cover you for five years of shorter lines and less hassle (such as keeping your shoes on, no x-rays and laptop in your bag and shoes on) when arriving at the airport with TSA Pre. For $15 more, you can get a Global Entry that will save even more time if you travel internationally. Clear has started to gain traction at certain airports and can shortcut even the small TSA Pre lines.

Live and Learn a Little

Often the inside of a convention center could be anywhere in the country or the world, for that matter. If possible, take a few hours to learn and explore at least one historical site, museum, park or take in a concert. These few moments away from the convention will not only provide a much-needed break, it will allow you to guide others on your team or your attendees of things to do while in the city.

Gifting and Travel with Children

It is easy, especially if you have children, to want to get them a gift from every city. After visiting over 40 states in my travel career, I had to give that up early on. Instead, we look at a map to discuss the city and state I am traveling to in advance, and for my young daughter, I travel with a memento (one of her teddy bears) and take photos of it wherever I go since she can’t travel with me. I of course, do bring back a few food favorites from certain cities such as Garrett Popcorn when I travel to Chicago.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.