Despite the fact that the travel industry puts on numerous trade shows, most people on both sides of the exhibit table fail to take full advantage of this marketing opportunity. Attending trade shows without making the best possible return on your investment in time (and money) is a luxury you can’t afford. Adhering to a simple strategy can ensure that your next trade show will be a worthwhile experience.
Consider the opportunities available within the exhibit area. Exhibitors are there to meet key prospects. At trade shows you do not have to work very hard to do that. People are standing in the middle of the large room virtually screaming ”Talk to me.”
In addition, opportunities are available for making personal connections with key people beyond the boundaries of the show floor. You can attend those seminars that catch your interest. You can attend after-show parties. Everywhere you go, remember that your mission is to meet people. Make it your objective to work the show.
I suggest that you set two goals: To introduce yourself to the key suppliers on your predetermined list. To gather the kind of information you feel will help propel supplier relationships forward.
You might want to keep a daily log of your progress.
Remember that the exhibitors have their own agendas. When approaching a booth, be prepared to control the situation before you become a “victim.” Do your homework, so that you know which booths you want to visit. Map out your course and stick to your plan.
Enter the targeted exhibit area like a person on a mission. Too many attendees casually saunter through the aisles clearly announcing to everyone that their time isn’t of any particular value. If you stride in and through the exhibit area you’ll be sending a clear signal that your time is valuable and you have a number of objectives you want to accomplish.
Speak first if you value your time and if you want to control the conversation. The best way is to lead with a question immediately after introducing yourself. Focus on internalizing the person’s name you are speaking with and use it during your conversation.
Establish your credibility by explaining why you have an interest in this particular exhibit. Ask the exhibitors to explain why an agent would want to send their client to his or her property or destination. Be sure to maintain an upbeat disposition in order to pave the way for an interesting and nonthreatening exchange of information.
Don’t hand out your business card to everybody. This important marketing weapon is often abused. Only offer your card to those to whom you are sincerely interested in. Make certain that the exhibitor realizes that you mean business. Say, “If I give you my card, can I expect to receive the information we spoke about within the next seven days?” Then, jot a reminder on the card before passing it along.
As a professional, you already know the importance of following up. You could be making a mistake if you expect the exhibitors to share your professionalism. Upon returning to your office send a quick note to key contacts reiterating how much you appreciated their time and information. Review their names and add them to your personal follow-up system. This is rarely done and you will be making a strong statement that you are an agent worth knowing.
Trade shows offer a great stage to grow personally and professionally. The success of each show is entirely up to you. There’s no time to be shy, nor can you afford to appear arrogant or obnoxious.
Just work your next “show” like the professional you are. Exciting and profitable things will come of it.
Mike Marchev freely shares his experiences, strategies and observations with travel professionals in an effort to keep them on top of their game. For a complimentary copy of his 12-Word Marketing Plan send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike’s daily column is made possible by AmaWaterways.