ne of the American travel industry's most important events is happening in Orlando this week, the Travel Industry Association's annual International Pow Wow. It doesn't directly involve many U.S. retail agents, but it's a vital engine in the machinery that brings 50 million international visitors to this country each year.

In 1,375 booths at the Orlando convention center, U.S. suppliers, destinations, attractions and receptive operators will meet with 1,500 tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents from 74 countries. The result, after four days, should be about $3 billion in future Visit USA business. And against this backdrop, over 200 journalists from around the world will be broadcasting and publishing reports about what the U.S. has to offer as a destination.

So even if you're not in Orlando this week, it would be proper to pause and reflect that there's a bunch of folks down there doing good work, work that should matter to everybody who cares about travel.

A little 'e'

Every once in a while, somebody will stand in front of a crowd and give a speech, and a few phrases will give a new twist to an old truth and make us perk up.

It happened last week at the Travel Weekly Conference in Orlando when Hal Rosenbluth suggested that the "e" in e-commerce should stand for "emotional."

And why not? As the sale of travel experiences gravitates to the impersonal arena of the Internet, why not go out of your way to invest the process with as much human warmth as possible?

It's a tall order, but one of the answers at Rosenbluth International is to assemble a team of people who love what they do and "who like each other," and use that emotional energy as a strategic advantage.

Take that, dot-com.

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