Events & Networking Tips for Tour Operators

6 Jan 2015     |    Taz Bareham

While it’s important to work on building partnerships online, it’s no substitute for face to face communication.

Conferences gives you the opportunity to learn from your peers and find companies to partner with other businesses.

Here are some necessary tips for tour operators looking to get the most out of networking at events.

Choose the right events

To determine what benefits this trade show will bring your business, ask yourself if there is a networking opportunity. What kind of people do you want to meet? What kind of products and services are interesting to you?

Your goal should be to form relationships that result in new prospects and revenue sources, and also see what your competition is doing. Ask the event organisers who will be in attendance. They should have a brochure available that lists the benefits for you.

If you’re not sure what events to attend, contact trade associations or your local chamber of commerce. Setting up a stand at one of these events might be too pricey, but it would still be worth coming as a visitor to check out the new developments in your industry.

Trade association should be running regular trade shows – it’s one of the many benefits of being part of a trade association. Your association will teach you about new trends, tips, and best practices, keeping you on top of important issues that will affect your business (eg. new legislation).

Prepare properly

So you’ve checked it out and decided to go. Now it’s time to get organised. Figure out:

Where you will stay

Sometimes, organisers arrange hotel rooms at a discounted rate. Check whether this is the case. Make reservations early and make sure you’re not too far from the trade show.

What you will bring

Obviously, you need to bring a bunch of business cards and even brochures to hand out. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. You may also want to bring along employees that would benefit from the event.

Who you will meet

Prior to the event, contact prospects and potential partners and set up an appointment.

What you will attend

There are usually multiple things going on at once, so have a look at the event guide and decide what panels and seminars will be the best use of your time.

How you will measure success

An important element that is often overlooked is the criteria to measure trade show success.

  • Target a specific area for improvement.
  • Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Specify who will do it.
  • Specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

It’s also useful to ask yourself what it would have cost you to achieve the same results without attending the trade show.

Communicate effectively

At the event

  • Dress for success, and network with purpose.
  • Try to be as helpful as possible.
  • Make introductions.
  • Hand out business cards wisely (don’t just give them away like there’s no tomorrow)
  • Make sure you truly listen as much as you speak.

Following up

If you have a lot of leads, you should sort them into a list based on urgency (cold, warm, hot) so you know who to chase up first.

Send them a personalised email, thanking them for connecting with you, and keep in touch with them to achieve your goal. It would also be good to send a tip, advice, resource, or some other way to help that’s personal to them.

If someone else is following up on your behalf, let them know the name of the person.

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