And during that time (completely changing subjects now), my partner and I decided (well, I decided and she is humoring me) to take a giant leap in to the unknown – trade show exhibitions in search of agents. As commission checks started rolling in from all those great bookings the first couple months of the year, I realized I actually had some money for serious marketing. At the same time I was getting psyched up to do another presentation at CruiseWorld in November. I looked at the cost of exhibiting at that show, and decided I could swing it. So I did. And now, for the first time in my life, I am going to be doing a trade show from that side of the aisle! We are setting up to do some serious agent recruiting.
I have a friend I’ve known since we were both new in the business, and he started hosting just a little before I did. He has done some trade shows, with decent results. But what I know is every time I go to a show, the large Host Agencies are all there, year after year. There has to be a reason they do that—it must be successful. In any business, if you want to compete with the big boys, you have to do it on their playground. I am not saying I will get Bridges & Holman to that level any time soon. But, frankly, based on my history… I wouldn’t bet against me. We didn’t start this business to be small time.
So, is it a huge risk? Yes. When you add up the cost of the booth, plus all the ancillary costs, it’s stretching the budget. But, the reward might be huge, too, and I have always tried to live by the words in “If” by Rudyard Kipling.
If you can make one heap of all your winningsAnd risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose, and start again at your beginningsAnd never breathe a word about your loss;
In the meantime, I am having a fun with the whole thing. Mostly figuring out how to go up against entire teams with vast experience in trade show marketing. My partner has a background in PR, so that’s really helpful. I am just a relentless self-promoter, so we have that going for us.
It’s also amazing how generous some suppliers are. Without giving away too much detail too early, we decided rather than invest a bunch of money in swag giveaways that no one really needs, wants, or keeps, we would do a little contest to drive traffic to the booth. And then I realized what a great cross promotion opportunity it could be. So I emailed a few of my preferred suppliers and was, honestly, inundated with support. And fairly high value swag. I have a feeling (or maybe a delusion) this is going to be one stunt/exhibition/promotion people talk about later.
Hope to see many of you there in November. As I said, I’ll also be on the program doing something with a panel or a breakout session—to be determined. And you are not going to want to miss the exhibition. I promise.
Dave Holman is a Partner at Bridges & Holman Worldwide Travel, based out of Southern California, with 9 years experience in the travel industry. He will draw on his past experience as a serial entrepreneur, as well as his time as a hosted agent at Coral Sands Travel and Expedia Cruise Ship Centers/OVC, as he builds and manages his (relatively) new Host Agency. You can contact Dave via his website at www.holmantravel.com, or better yet, through his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DaveHolmanTravel.