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Pro tips to make sure you get everything from a bridal show

It’s that time of year when lots of bridal shows are on the calendar. However, bridal shows can also be very frustrating to travel agents – they are expensive, and often agents don’t see the ROI (Return on Investment) for the expense and effort put forth.

I know you’ll do a terrific job decorating your booth, so these suggestions are preparations you can do now for after the show, and some tidbits you can use at the show.

At the show

Don’t be tempted to have your prospective brides fill out their contact information at your booth; the bridal show management company will send you your leads. If you do, she bends down to fill out your form, you lose eye contact, and all conversation stops. Better to ask her “When are you getting married?” and “Where is he taking you on YOUR honeymoon?” She has to answer you.

For 2015 Brides, you can pull out your calendar and offer to make an appointment with her and her fiancé in the coming weeks. For 2016 + brides, take some information of their destination interest, and offer to mail them some info.

Post show

Put as much effort into planning your “post show” marketing, as you do getting ready for the show. Everyone gets excited about planning upfront for the show itself; finding a preferred supplier to co-op the booth, ordering brochures, reviewing your graphics for the booth, etc.

Where most agents fail, is they don’t do any planning before the show, on how they will handle the leads they will receive after the show. I know, I’ve done it. I waited and waited for the leads to arrive, and when they did, suddenly I became too busy to deal with them. And the next thing I knew, the show was a month ago, and then I “decided” it was too late to do a mailing or e-mail campaign. Shame on me.

So now while you have the time before the show….create several items:

  1. A “Congratulations on Your Engagement” email that offers to set up an appointment with the prospective bride and groom, to discuss a potential destination wedding or honeymoon options. Include some graphics of your favorite properties.
  2. Next, print out some PDF flyers from your favorite suppliers you can use for direct mail; have those ready to drop into an envelope complete with your agency branding and information.
  3. Create a marketing calendar to decide how often you are going to send either an email or direct mail piece to those brides. Get those dates on the calendar now to keep you on track going forward. Again, where most agents fail, is in the continued follow-up; if they don’t see immediate results they think the show was a failure. It usually takes 7 – 9 times for a potential customer to take action from your marketing. Pro tip: If you do have a supplier co-op your booth, make sure to show them your follow up marketing calendar; they will be more willing to help (postage, etc.) throughout the year.*

Handling leads

After the show, separate your leads into 2 groups:

  1. Brides getting married in 2015
  2. everyone else.

Obviously, you will want to concentrate on the 2015 brides, but still continue to market to those brides getting married in the next few years.

Special events

Stongly consider having a “Honeymoon Night” planned within 2 weeks of the bridal show, for brides to bring their fiancés.   Distribute Invitations to brides as they visit your booth.

Setting appointments

One of the major goals of the show should be to set up appointments right on the show floor with these brides, to discuss their upcoming plans. They all have their smart phones, and can easily put that on their schedule.

So start putting a “post-show” plan together now, and you should see much better results for all the effort you put into exhibiting at your next bridal show.

*E-mail me if you would like to see a sample marketing calendar.

Karen Dawson is the owner of Southlake Travel (www.southlake-travel.com) located in Texas, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on Culinary group travel. Karen can be reached by email at kdawson@southlake-travel.com or by phone at (817) 657-9866.

 

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