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by F. Andrew Taylor

Work, work, work. Everything about the events industry seems to revolve around long hours, hard work and very little time to relax. While it may be hard to carve time to enjoy yourself away from the events, every now and then the opportunity arises, so if you find yourself with some precious play time in any of the three busiest convention and events cities, these apps may help you find just the attraction you need.

Chicago Travel Guide, Tripwolf

It’s possible you could stop right here, as Tripwolf offers guides to a lot of cities. The app is free for one city, but you can pay $22 for unlimited access to more than 600 premium guides, which offer much more detailed info on each area and allow downloading the guide for offline use. The free portion will suffice for most casual travelers. It includes information on more than 300 attractions as well as tours, food, hotels and even a trip planner. Each attraction opens up to its own page with a description, a link to the Wikipedia page and contact info. Anyone who has had to dig through a page of ads and false leads while doing a google search for an attraction can appreciate how valuable that seemingly simple information can be.

Visit Orlando, Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Presumably, one of the best apps about visiting a city should come from that city’s visitors bureau, but that isn’t always the case. In Orlando, it is. The app is user friendly, with buttons across the top directing you to dining, hotels, attractions and more. A “me” button allows the app to make suggestions of things to do based on your location. You do have to sign up for an account to gain access to the entirety of the features, and some user may find this opens you to more ads than you’re comfortable with, but your mileage may vary. It also gives you the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets to theme parks and other attractions. One interesting feature is a button that allows you to speak directly to an Orlando destination specialist for those interested in more personal interaction in their apps.

Vegas.com, Remark Holdings

This app and site is one of many that provide a guide to the sparkling desert oasis. It isn’t created by the local government, it is a destination-specific, online travel agency which means much of the app is trying to sell you something, and that’s okay. The fact they’re selling to you makes the site stay fresh and ensures that the listings are current. Las Vegas is nothing if not mercurial. Other apps I looked at included attractions that have been gone a decade or longer. Sorry if you had your heart set on going to Star Trek: The Experience or seeing the pirate show in front of Treasure Island. Both are gone and Treasure Island is the TI now, but Vegas.com can guide you to places that are relatively new like Topgolf and Zero Latency VR and things off the beaten bath, like Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory. There is a free attractions section, with plenty of options that aren’t trying to be sold to you such as the Conservatory at The Bellagio, which changes its installations five times a year and features display specialties fabricated by exhibit industry stalwarts Gist Specialties, in case you needed an excuse to see it. “No boss, I wasn’t goofing off, I was engaging in important industry research.”

F. Andrew Taylor is an award-winning journalist, artist, photographer, cartoonist and illustrator. He also works in film production, does local historical research and has been an amateur stunt driver and rodeo participant. Contact him at fandrewt@exhibitcitynews.com.

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 14. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust_2019_web

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