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Priceless Cruising – an expo success story

Let’s face it – participating in a trade show is a daunting undertaking. Since I’m still ‘the new kid on the block’ in town, I knew I needed to do this year’s Chamber Expo to let people know I was open for business. I’ve been preparing for months, but since the Expo was just a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to share my experience.

My preparations included revising my business cards and creating a nice banner featuring my logo and an Alaskan glacier photo from my last trip to hang high from the pipe and drape, which drew peoples’ attention.

I had also contacted two of my preferred cruise lines to borrow one of their tabletop pop-ups to use at the trade show, and they accommodated me without a question.

This year’s Expo theme was “Cultivating Success.” Coming up with an idea for a cruise-related business was a bit of a challenge, but I finally came up with “What’s on YOUR Bucket List?” I created an ‘easy’ check-off form (emphasis on “easy”) with about 30 of the usual destinations along with some blank lines. I also had space for their name, phone number, and email address.

It ended up being a great conversation starter as well – as they were quickly scanning the list they would comment “Oh, I’d REALLY like to go there” or “Who’d want to go there?” I found it fascinating to see how different people reacted to the same stimulus.

The drawing was for an insulated tote by one of the cruise lines as well as a bottle opener (which in retrospect, really wasn’t as enticing as I thought it would be). But what did get them to fill out the form was when we told them my husband and I had a bet as to which was the most popular ‘bucket list’ item. We needed their input to decide who won the bet. By the way, the most popular place was Alaska.

Since the trade show was primarily an ‘introduction’ to Priceless Cruising, what I was really promoting was my River Cruise Night, scheduled for two weeks after the show. So for those that showed an interest, I handed out flyers promoting the cruise night as well as my two Wine River Cruise promotions, the cruise line’s DVD and brochure.

All in all, the Expo was a successful endeavor for me. I was quite happy with the forms we collected. I was not looking for a huge number of leads, but I did want quality leads, and that’s what I got. I am currently still following up with my stack of forms and will be doing an Alaskan Cruise Night after I return from my Alaska Cruise tour in August.

The River Cruise Night presentation was also a success. People came, and although they weren’t interested in either of the two Wine Cruise itineraries we were featuring, I am working with all of them on the itinerary and dates they do want for 2016. So for me, at my stage in my business, it was worth the time, money, and effort to have done the Expo. Have any of you had similar experiences?

Susan “Smitty” Price, ACC, is a cruise coordinator with Priceless Cruising, a home-based operation out of San Luis Obispo, Calif., that specializes in river and ocean cruises. She is an active member of the SLO Chamber of Commerce, SLO Women’s Network, two quilt guilds and the Alzheimer’s Association. Contact Smitty throughPricelessCruising.com, Facebook, LinkedIn or vacationdiva2@charter.net.

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