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First Look: U.S. Travel Pushing Message, Taxi Smells at Convention First Look: U.S. Travel Pushing Message, Taxi Smells at Convention

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First Look: U.S. Travel Pushing Message, Taxi Smells at Convention

Forget one-time parties with massive open bars -- the U.S. Travel Association is doing it up at this year's conventions with scavenger hunts, mementos branded with industry statistics and celebrity chef dinners.

Blain Rethmeier, senior vice president of public affairs, says their convention strategy is to push a message that will stay with attendees -- that the travel industry includes millions of jobs, and without it, the conventions wouldn't be possible.

"People perceive travel as fun, frivolous and all about personal experience and vacation," Rethmeier says. "It's really changing that perception and putting the economic realities of what the industry brings and the important policy decisions impact travel" to the fore.

So U.S. Travel is offering behind-the-scenes tours of the convention centers, hotels and other spots, taking members, particularly those in the travel caucus, around to show the nuts and bolts of conventions.

They're also offering vacation packages to MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, given to attendees who complete a social media scavenger hunt (basically, you take pictures of certain sites around town and load them to Facebook and Twitter). And convention attendees who stay at Marriott Hotels will get key cards packed with facts about the travel industry.

And if you think you can avoid their message, good luck. Bus drivers will all be wearing "Vote Travel" pins, and even the cabs with be equipped with "Vote Travel" air fresheners.

"You'll be greeted with a pleasant scent and important statistics of the travel industry,"  Rethmeier says.

The convention strategy will cost U.S. Travel roughly $10,000. It's piggy-backing off of a larger $5 million Vote Travel campaign. In that, a bus traveled to 40 destinations around the country, touting the travel industry's economic impact. Check out their campaign video after the jump.

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