According to Tripsavvy, couples spend an average of $4,466 on their honeymoon. That’s three times as much as the average U.S. adult spends on a vacation. Luxury honeymooners, which comprise 15% of the market, spend an average of $9,954 and vacation for 11 days. (www.tripsavvy.com, Wedding Statistics and Honeymoon Facts & Figures, By Susan Breslow Sardone, Updated 08/22/17)
Are you getting your share of this lucrative market? One viable way to reach these prospective honeymooners is to participate in bridal fairs and expos. I have compiled some tips that have helped me prepare for successful events.
Order brochures early and make sure that they are delivered no later then a week prior to the show. However, my preferred brochures are one-page flyers. They are easier to carry home and less likely to be thrown out. In most cases, my preferred suppliers have been more than willing to create custom flyers geared towards honeymoons and romantic travel for these shows, and many times they will even pay for the cost of printing.
Make sure you know who your show neighbors are going to be. Try not to be next to jewelry sales, timeshares, or any other companies that may distract brides and grooms from coming to your booth. Or even worse, a booth with big spinning wheels or those who are giving away lots of free stuff so that people are standing in line in front of your booth to get just the freebees and blocking potential honeymooners from getting to your information. Don’t be afraid to immediately lodge a complaint with the show promoter should something like this happen.
Know your competition
Ask the show promoter for a complete list of all participants. If the list shows other travel agencies, go to their website and find out what they specialize in and make sure to focus on other products. For example, if you know that a large competing agency is going to promote nothing but Sandals, then focus on other products like cruises, Europe, Hawaii and other popular honeymoon destinations.
Booth Set Up
Arrive early and allow yourself plenty of time to set-up. I bring props, such as several silk palm trees, colorful open suitcases to hold flyers and a bag of sand and flip flops that say “Just Married” on the bottom. I cover the table with tropical and colorful pareo’s. We keep only a few key brochures on the table and the rest are put under the table to keep the table from looking cluttered. I leave room for my portfolio and personal brochures and most importantly, an open space for brides to register or make an appointment for a free consultation.
Network with Other Vendors
Before the show opens, or while brides are viewing a fashion show, is a good time to walk around and introduce yourself to other vendors. Many of these same vendors may be great candidates for future co-marketing opportunities. Some of the best referrals that I have received from these shows have been from other vendors. There is nothing like “word of mouth” recommendations to build trust.
Learn How to Break the Ice
The most important part of a bridal show is to make personal contact with each bride that stops at your booth. Handing out flyers is not enough. Be prepared to speak with as many brides as possible, and make the most of the few minutes she may be willing to spend in your booth. The typical response to “May I help you?” is “No, I’m just looking.” Don’t set yourself up for a negative response. Instead your question should be “Have you started planning your honeymoon yet?” or “What is your dream honeymoon?” Now you have broken the ice, and can go on to talk about what you do special for honeymooners.
Prizes and Giveaways
Key chains, pens and other giveaways randomly stacked create the grab-and-run behavior with attendees. The best way to use giveaways is after a conversation; present the item as a token of your appreciation. Create special entry forms for a large travel related prize or basket that include all of the needed contact information, as well as desired honeymoon destination, wedding date and estimated budget. This is an excellent way to gather information for your database and follow up.
Make sure to immediately send a “Thank you for visiting our booth” note which includes bullet points of your special services. It also reflects to the bride that you’re reliable and efficient. Set regular intervals to send future correspondence, as some of these brides are visiting shows a few years in advance of their actual wedding date. Bridal shows are an investment of time and money, and not following up would be a waste of both.
Anita Pagliasso is the author of “How I Made A Small Fortune as a Home-Based Travel Agent” “From Home-Based to POWERHOUSE” and “Anita’s Toolbox for Home-Based Agents CD”(www.redticketproductions.com), President, Host Agency Ticket To Travel (www.travelagentathome.com), Travel Agent Forum Conference Director, and PATH President & Executive Board Member. Finally Anita is also a professional educator with The Travel Institute, www.thetravelinstitute.com.