San Juan, Puerto Rico is ready for ASTA

Delegates who are attending or planning to attend this year’s edition of the American Society of Travel Agents’ International Destination Expo (IDE) can look forward to getting business done. The host city for this year’s IDE, scheduled to take place from April 14-17, is San Juan, Puerto Rico, and both the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and the Puerto Rico chapter of ASTA have shown that they are committed in making the event a success.

The government of Puerto Rico has done a remarkable job in building the Puerto Rico Convention Center, an ultra-modern, state-of-the-art conference facility that has a total space of 580,000 square, which means it can accommodate groups of up to 10,000. It is the largest convention center in the Caribbean and also the most technologically advanced throughout both the Caribbean and Latin America, according to PRCC sales and marketing director Margaret Colón.

She added that since the venue opened, the convention center’s top clients have been pharmaceutical companies. With ASTA bringing IDE to San Juan this year, more travel and tourism events are likely going to make the PRCC a venue of choice.

Puerto Rico’s convention center is part of a US$ $419 million project to develop a complex that sends a very clear message: San Juan is very much now a strong contender in the MICE market.

Meanwhile, ASTA brands IDE as the only show dedicated to training outbound US travel agents to become destination specialists on the Caribbean. According to ASTA, delegates “will be immersed in four days of concentrated educational sessions and have access to a trade show with hundreds of local travel suppliers.”

“This is a terrific chance for agents in Puerto Rico to meet with their peers from the mainland and around the world and to share best practices and make business connections that will last them a lifetime,” said ASTA president and chair Chris Russo. “When it comes to leveraging business opportunities, this is one case where the ROI is almost immediate.”

The travel agent organization encourages exhibiting at IDE, as it will help “to increase your US sales by establishing new business relationships with hundreds of highly-qualified agents who sell outbound travel from the U.S. With a 5 to 1 agent to supplier ratio, IDE is the perfect event to establish new business relationships and generate more sales leads.”

According to ASTA, IDE delegates and media this year will have exclusive access to ship inspections for the first time. “You can take advantage of Puerto Rico’s position in the heart of the Caribbean and participate in cruise ship inspections and get the latest on the Caribbean cruise and travel market,” the group stated in a recent release.

IDE is open to ASTA and non-ASTA members. “Gain valuable face time with travel agents and top suppliers in the Caribbean. This is your chance to make new contacts and gain valuable sources for the future,” ASTA added.

With the venue being top-notch, expect accommodation to be the same. Hotel inspections of Conrad Condado Plaza Hotel, Hilton Caribe, La Concha and Sheraton Hotel San Juan showed that San Juan has rooms that adhere to high standards and are all within close proximity to the convention center. It is certain that Puerto Rico will be benefiting from this synergy for years to come.

This is part two of my series of articles on Puerto Rico Tourism which I hope to end with my interview with PRTC executive director Mario Gonzales Lafuente.