Over the course of my time in the travel industry I have had the opportunity to attend many, many events and conventions put on by various organizations. I began the journey way back when with Joel Abels’ Travel Trade Shows and though the years have gone to CLIA 360’s, ASTA TradeShows, NACTA Conferences, Vacation.Com Conventions, HomeBased Agent Shows, Luxury Shows, Travel Weekly Shows…well – you get the idea.
In addition to the exhibit halls where I have the chance to meet the suppliers face to face, at most of these shows I have had a wealth of seminars to choose from – marketing, social media, client management systems, destinations, supplier training, and also the various subcategories of selling travel such as luxury, adventure, home based, cruises, romance, etc. You find yourself running from one end of the convention center to the other in order to get to them all. But in the end, you come back to the office with your head absolutely swimming with so many wonderful ideas that you are usually too overwhelmed to implement any one of them effectively.
Oddly enough, one seminar that usually gets a good turnout centers on “Finding Your Niche” – why you should do it, and how you can better serve that segment of the market because you are truly meeting the needs of that client looking for a niche travel experience..
In retrospect I look back and find this somewhat ironic, as I have just attended a fairly small conference put on by the new Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA). This is one of the few conferences where I have truly listened and carried out this “niche” mantra. The conference was entirely focused on selling romance travel – period. It did not try to get fancy by dividing us up into any subsets – it was just destinations, suppliers and topics that served the romance market.
One of the best seminars was presented by Jennifer Doncsecz of VIP Vacations, where she discussed the Psychology of the Millennial Bride. She provided the attendees with information on dealing with the target market, and was also was able to suggest small shifts in procedures to meet the needs of this niche clientele, that could be easily implemented Monday morning.
Imagine that – I learned something just this past weekend that I brought into the office and started today.
As I hear more and more trade show organizers lament the ever decreasing turnout to the shows that try to be all things to all people, I have to wonder – have the days of the multiple large “generalist” travel shows throughout the year seen their heyday? In this day and age where so many of us are independent, one-man agencies footing our own bills for the travel to the shows, perhaps it is time to take the lead of this fledgling association and really focus on the smaller niche, provide actionable content and keep the conferences short, sweet and to the point.
What do you think? Do you still like the large travel shows with a broad range of content or do you think a short and focused conference would better allow you to get in, learn and get back to the office and the business of selling travel more efficiently?
Barbara Oliver is an 8 year veteran of the industry operating two independent travel companies All Together Now Travel and Romantic Journeys (both currently being redesigned) in the Los Angeles Area. In addition to her agencies she is theLos Angeles director of NACTA as well as a regular attendee and frequent panelist at many trade shows. She has her CTA from The Travel Institute and her ECC from CLIA.