Hollywood goes the extra mile to win over the travel industry

Hollywood goes the extra mile to win over the travel industry

I was surprised to read in a best-selling mystery that Jesus had a brother. I was even more shocked to learn so does Wolfgang Puck. The famed chef's sibling hosted a room of journalists last week at his Vert restaurant, where I sampled some yummy treats and a heaping helping of Hollywood hospitality. The culinary Puck-er up was but one kiss in a giant love-fest LA bestowed on thousands of travel industry agents, journalists, and publicists at POW WOW - the Travel Industry Association of America's annual convention.LA hosted the mega-event for the first time since 1996, and our Convention and Visitors Bureau knocked themselves out. The City of Angles fell behind several other US locales as a vacation destination in the post-9/11 travel slowdown and city officials are eager to show the world our recent architectural and cultural advances, including the gorgeous Frank Gehry-designed Disney Music Hall downtown. Our day began there with brunch, followed by a choice of five city excursions. I picked the Hollywood troll, with a tour of the Kodak Theater, home to the Oscars (FYI: Johnny Depp sat in seat B1); the Walk of Fame ($15K for your own star); the Hollywood Museum (where we sampled Chianti and fava beans in the original Hannibal Lecter jail set from The Silence of the Lambs); and a helicopter jaunt over the digs of such celebs as Eddie Murphy, Aaron Spelling, and Steven Spielberg. (I advised one enthused journo not to drop his screenplay into Spielberg's yard.) The grand finale was a sneak peak at the new "Mummy" ride, and free food and attractions at Universal Studios. It's easy to chat with journalists when you've both had the wits scared out of you by the sudden drop on the "Jurassic Park" ride. "Travel writers rely on PR firms," says Lynda Cumming, who publishes a 12,000 word bi-weekly publication for travel agencies, "but there are certain things I wish they would do differently. "Don't send us those phone book-sized media kits. They may help show off for your clients, but they're not helpful to us. Send concise e-mails about your clients' products and bargains. Don't refer us to your websites; send the information directly. And don't use flowery prose; we know what sand between our toes feels like." So there it is, publicists: you have your travel orders. Now, go take a hike. But avoid the sand. Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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