With 2014 comes a brand new round of industry trade shows for tour operators to attend. There are heaps of them in the travel and tourism sector, but is it worth your time and money?
The answer is yes – if you know how to get the most out of the experience. Read this quick guide before you attend your next trade show.
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.
Take Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) as an example. ATE is a business-to-business event which brings together approximately 1700 delegates from 600 tourism businesses with close to 700 wholesalers and retailers from around the world. Australian tourism businesses get to showcase their products and establish business links with organisations that take Australian tourism to the international marketplace.
In their brochure, they explain the benefits for:
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.
So you’ve checked it out and decided to go. Now it’s time to get organised. Figure out:
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.
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.
Prior to the event, contact prospects and potential partners and set up an appointment.
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.
An important element that is often overlooked is the criteria to measure trade show success. Create a list of SMART goals that you want to achieve through your attendance:
It’s also useful to ask yourself what it would have cost you to achieve the same results without attending the trade show.
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. If someone else is following up on your behalf, let them know the name of the person.
Remember to list the benefits for working with your business (you’re fully insured, you have great testimonials to share, you have online booking software that automates the commission process, etc). Then be patient, because these things take time.
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