Destinations is my favourite Travel Show. It’s held every January/February in Manchester, and then Olympia in London, where I go.

I went again yesterday.

It’s a huge cocktail of colours, music, smells and samples from many different countries.

There’s always music and dancing going on from different countries.

I’m sure that there’s a country there every year that I’ve never heard of before! Perhaps they’re invented for the show.

I can picture a Committee being formed in a poverty-stricken country where they agree to make up a name like Moogoobooshoo as they weren’t very successful last year using their real name. And when they’ve booked a planeful of all-inclusive passengers, they change the small airport’s name to Moogoobooshoo and erect Moogoobooshoo signs around the holiday complex.

Trips outside the complex, riding an elephant, camel, or in a jeep, go to chosen restaurants where they’ve printed menus with ‘Typical Moogoobooshoo specialities’ written on the top.

Well it’s an idea that would explain the emergence of previously unknown places!

Destinations is a great place to meet friends and enjoy an interesting day out.

Customer watching is also fun.

There are old men with woolly hats and huge sticking-out rucksacks everywhere.dest4

They just come for a day out, probably because they’re lonely, but they block all the stands if they stand slightly sideways. And they’ll talk and talk about their holiday in 1953 while a queue forms behind them. But they don’t care as they think everyone’s listening, fascinated, to their never-ending travelogue.

And they don;t spend any money. They have their sandwiches and thermos flask in their huge rucksacks.

My friend spotted three woolly hats in a cluster yesterday. They never take them off, no matter how hot it gets!

Another type of visitor is the retired couple.

Again, they’ll ramble on about their last, very expensive, exotic adventure. But they’re more aware of any waiting people and they’ll smile and step politely aside before carrying on from where they left off, about their six week, £15,000 holiday in a train.

They’re very adventurous for their ages, and will try literally anything – as long as they have hot plates for their lunch/dinner, even if the temperature’s 40 degrees and the sweat’s running down their backs!

Worst of all is the Fantasy Traveller, in their 30s.

They’ll block a stand for ages and glare at anyone who dares to stand near them while the poor sales person really believes that they’ve got their Sale of the Day coming up.

Fantasy planning to travel across South America individually. They don’t want any fancy train rides or package tours.

I walk away and go back later, passing Fantasy Traveller who is now blocking another stand, planning an individual trip to Outer Mongolia via Russia, etc.

And there they are again, planning to trek across India!

Sales people can be easily sorted into groups. There’s the Owner/Manager who works professionally all the time. He/she can include several customers at once and always looks around them for more.

Then there are the employees, who are polite and jolly, but don’t care if you book a holiday or not. They get their wages whatever.

Finally there are the Agency Staff. They don’t know what they’re talking about and care even less. But they usually enjoy being there.dest

Two of them will stare at one customer while stuffing their faces with sandwiches and coffee.

One of them will see you waiting and step towards you.

I suggest you now take a step backwards as they’ll say ‘Can I help you?’ and spray you with a fountain of coffee-soaked bread.

The worst kind of employee is the grumpy type who will stare blankly at a punter and completely ignore everyone else.

I go round the shows, holding out my business card and asking for one of their cards so I don’t delay them unnecessarily. And if I didn’t, I’d only get through about half of the show.

So there I am, holding my card out between two fingers, a bit like James Bond holding his gun, and being completely ignored by the bored person on the stand, who is listening, pretending to be gripped, as Woolly Hat Man relates his tale (I practically know it word for word by now) when all I want is a business card!

If this happens to you, here’s what to do; it’s infallible!

Wait patiently for a couple of minutes, trying to smile politely at the sales person, who will ignore you.

Now inspect the stand and start nicking everything that’s not nailed down.

Talk all the time while you do it. If your friend has wandered off to another stand, talk to yourself.

Pick up a free pen and say, ‘Ooh, I need a pen!’ Drop it in your bag.dest3

Now pick up another one and say, ‘I’ll just take a spare one.’ Drop in bag.

If you’re still being ignored, step up the pace. Say, ‘Ooh, that’s a pretty keyring – and I’ll take one for my daughter.’

Postcards are good for making them begin to twitch. Take a handful of each design, muttering, ‘I always need postcards.’

Sales Person should be watching you out of the corner of their eye by now. They’ll stick their chin out and their smile will have turned into a grimace as Woolly Hat Man launches on the tale of his package holiday in the year 1964. At last they’re finally beginning to realise that there’s no way they’re getting a booking from him.

Sweets will be your Grand Finale, and they’re free after all!

Pick one out of the tin/bowl and exclaim, ‘Ooh, sweets! And I’ll take one to eat on the train – no, I’ll have two.’

Now take a handful, then move back to the pens. And don’t forget the free cloth bags, and the carrier bags with their logo on; ‘Perfect for putting my rubbish in now the supermarkets charge for them!’

Suddenly, Sales Person will snap, ‘Excuse me a moment’ to Woolly Hat Man, who has reached the 70s. Then they’ll snarl ‘Can I help you?’

Don’t give them your business card now. You stand no chance of being recommended to their Management for anything! Take their card and walk away, making notes on the back of it with one of the pens.

And finally, I must tell you about the most wonderful visitor who I met last year while we were both having a cup of coffee.

He was a farmer from Wales, living in an isolated area. He rarely left the farm.

As usual, he got up at dawn, and caught a coach to London, which took hours to get there. And he’d get home late that night.

Yes, he was really enjoying the show, but no, he wasn’t going to book a holiday as he couldn’t leave the farm.

‘So why have you come all this way?’ I couldn’t resist asking him.

You’ll never guess his reply…..

‘Because they sent me a free ticket,’ he said.

It must have cost him a small fortune to use his free ticket!