There are many travel and tourism industry trade shows that run every year. So many in fact, that picking the right one for your hospitality business may seem overwhelming at first. As a former Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, I feel for you. That’s why I thought that it might be helpful to go over how I use to select my shows. With that said, here are a few tips:
Check the Hotel’s Marketing Plan
One of the first things that I always did before selecting a show was to make sure that my marketing audit and objectives were up-to-date. I found that doing so helped me to be more judicious with my show selections. For example, several of the hotels that I worked for were located along the I-84 corridor. At the time, it was a well-know passageway for motorcoaches that specialized in servicing senior citizens and sports groups.
Thus, I made it a point to know which companies traveled thru the area the most often. Then I’d scour the trade show lists to see which events those companies were attending. Afterward, I’d pick the show that offered access to as many companies on my targeted list as possible. Some of the shows that I found helpful in that regard were put on by the Maryland Motorcoach Association, the Pennsylvania Bus Association and the National Tour Association.
I also made it a point to participate in smaller, regional shows that allowed me to build and maintain relationships with channel partners and end consumers. For instance, there were some tour operators that held modest travel expos. Those expos were designed to increase their company’s sales from end consumers (i.e. group leaders). If I already did business with the expo’s organizer or wanted to do so in the future, I’d reserve booth space. I’d also reserve space at the shows that were geared towards my end consumer as part of a push-pull demand strategy.
Research the Show and Buddy Up
Another aspect to consider when selecting travel and tourism industry trade shows are the costs involved. Thus, you’ll want to select the shows that have the potential to give you the most return on your investment. Although it is difficult to know how a travel show will work out for your hotel, there are some things that I would recommend looking for. They include the show’s track record, location, promotional efforts and amount of marketing support offered. I often had the most success with trade shows that had been in existence for years and utilized well-respected venues. I also preferred to select shows where the organizers made it a point to heavily promote the show and provide vendor support. Types of support that I would typically look for were qualified, pre and post show lead lists.
If after all that, you are still unsure of the show’s worth, you could approach the situation in two ways. First, you could opt to go to the show as a guest and scope out the situation. I’ve done that before. While wandering around the event’s grounds, I’d talk to vendors about their experiences and take note of what I experienced. Oftentimes, doing so was enough to help me make a final decision. Second, you could also buddy up with your co-op marketing partners and share all of the show expenses. In the past, I’ve done that too. Doing so allowed me and my fellow marketers to take a chance on unproven shows with very little financial risk involved.
Source: Personal Experience
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