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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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact