2006/02: Ask Me
Q&A 16 years ago No Comments

I came across your website while looking for info regarding the 2006 Milan fair. We own a kitchen and bath showroom and are looking to go to Milan for the first time. Have you been before” Do you recommend going through a travel agent to book the travel” Are all of the hotels very expensive” We are wondering what areas are the best places to stay. We are “green” in our overseas travel. Any assistance would be appreciated! Great information about the show, by the way!

(submitted by Gail G.)

Gail, thanks so much for your email. Alas, as much as I like to travel, I have never been to the Milan fair, nor to Milan in general (passing through on the train from Paris to Venice doesn’t really count). I would LOVE to go, but it’s just not in the budget these days.

If you are “green” as you say in your overseas travel experience, I would definitely recommend going through a travel agent. In fact, the Milan fair site has a link for travel assistance. The travel site itself is in Italian, but since over 90,000 foreign visitors attend the fair, you know they”ll be able to answer e-mail requests in many languages. Just click on the e-mail link provided on the show site.

Going through the “designated” travel agency may not be the least expensive way to arrange travel and accommodations, BUT they should know all the ins and outs of getting lodging for the show and they probably have access to rooms and rates that no one else has. A good question for yourself is, “How much is my time worth”” You can easily waste many hours (and some of your sanity) trying to book foreign hotels in an unfamiliar city on your own. Trust me, I know!

Other good reasons to use the designated travel agency: 1) you would most likely be located near the show, 2) the hotels they have access to are more likely to have some kind of shuttle service / associated perks with the show (big shows like this cause enough stress without you having to deal with issues like finding transportation back and forth each day!), 3) those hotels may be accustomed to dealing with foreigners exhibiting at the show, and 4) you’d have someone to complain to if things went wrong (your reservation was “lost” or your room is not what was promised).

Yes, I would expect the hotels to be a bit expensive, especially since the dollar is down against the Euro these days (currency exchange link). My family went to Italy in the early 80s when the Lira (their currency at the time) was at a low. We lived like kings over there for a week – it was amazing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case now.

Hopefully, their travel service has some decent rates set aside for exhibitors and attendees. And they should have rooms available at hotels in different price ranges ” ask them about that. Keep in mind, though, that many European hotels have a different standard than American hotels. If you haven”t stayed abroad before, be aware that unless you are specifically staying in a four-star or “American-style” hotel, the rooms will probably be much smaller than you might be accustomed to, and not all rooms come with a private bath.

Ask for details before you book so you know what you”re getting. These hotels are perfectly decent usually, but you don”t want a total shock when you open the door (as I”ve had more than once in London and Paris). Since Milan is such an international, cosmopolitan fashion and design mecca, I’m sure it”s pricey. But I bet it would be worth it – what an adventure!

You would probably be wise to check for airfare deals on your own first, then compare with the agency to see if they can get you a better deal for booking the air / hotel combo. You might find that you”re better off booking your air yourself, but do ask them for their rates.

Whatever you do, I would definitely use some sort of travel agent who is familiar with Milan, or with Italy at the very least. Their accommodations can be quite different than those in the U.S., and having a point of contact to help you out is worth the agent’s fee. Especially in a business travel situation when you are in a time crunch and time is money.

If you”re going to go, get on the show website as soon as you can to check early-bird deadlines for discounted tickets and to book rooms before they”re sold out. Also look at the list of exhibitors and print out any maps, if possible, to make a plan of attack before you get there. It”ll save you time and sore feet later.

Lastly, make sure you know if any reservations you make are non-refundable before you hand over a credit card. Then pack your comfy shoes, an extra bag for the wonderful souvenirs you”ll want to bring back and have a great experience!