With 2014 comes a brand new round of industry trade shows for tour operators to attend. There are heaps of them in the travel and tourism sector, but is it worth your time and money?

The answer is yes – if you know how to get the most out of the experience. Read this quick guide before you attend your next trade show.

1. Decide to attend the trade show

To determine what benefits this trade show will bring your business, ask yourself if there is a networking opportunity. What kind of people do you want to meet? What kind of products and services are interesting to you?

Your goal should be to form relationships that result in new prospects and revenue sources, and also see what your competition is doing. Ask the event organisers who will be in attendance. They should have a brochure available that lists the benefits for you.

Take Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) as an example. ATE is a business-to-business event which brings together approximately 1700 delegates from 600 tourism businesses with close to 700 wholesalers and retailers from around the world. Australian tourism businesses get to showcase their products and establish business links with organisations that take Australian tourism to the international marketplace.

In their brochure, they explain the benefits for:

  • Tourism Operators: It’s a unique and cost-effective opportunity to present your products and negotiate deals with the most influential and international tourism buyers.
  • International Buyers: Meet and do business with hundreds of tour operators from around Australia, all in one location.

If you’re not sure what events to attend, contact trade associations or your local chamber of commerce. Setting up a stand at one of these events might be too pricey, but it would still be worth coming as a visitor to check out the new developments in your industry.

2. Prepare for the trade show

So you’ve checked it out and decided to go. Now it’s time to get organised. Figure out:

Where you will stay

Sometimes, organisers arrange hotel rooms at a discounted rate. Check whether this is the case. Make reservations early and make sure you’re not too far from the trade show.

What you will bring

Obviously, you need to bring a bunch of business cards and even brochures to hand out. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. You may also want to bring along employees that would benefit from the event.

Who you will meet

Prior to the event, contact prospects and potential partners and set up an appointment.

What you will attend

There are usually multiple things going on at once, so have a look at the event guide and decide what panels and seminars will be the best use of your time.

How you will measure success

An important element that is often overlooked is the criteria to measure trade show success. Create a list of SMART goals that you want to achieve through your attendance:

  • Specific. Target a specific area for improvement.Example: Generate sales from contacts made at the trade show. The event is B2B so it is unlikely that we will meet consumers. We expect sales to come from being listed on a new partner’s website (travel agencies, tour or activity resellers).
  • Measurable. Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.Example: X number of listings gained as a result of networking.
  • Assignable. Specify who will do it.Example: People from our company attending the trade show.
  • Realistic. State what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.Example: X sales per month per partner listing.
  • Time-related. Specify when the result(s) can be achieved.Example: X partner listings within 3 months, generating X amount of sales.

It’s also useful to ask yourself what it would have cost you to achieve the same results without attending the trade show.

 3. Follow-up with your contacts

If you have a lot of leads, you should sort them into a list based on urgency (cold, warm, hot) so you know who to chase up first.

Send them a personalised email, thanking them for connecting with you, and keep in touch with them to achieve your goal. If someone else is following up on your behalf, let them know the name of the person.

Remember to list the benefits for working with your business (you’re fully insured, you have great testimonials to share, you have online booking software that automates the commission process, etc). Then be patient, because these things take time.

Download our free ebook to keep learning about distributing your tourism products:

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Have insights on tourism trade shows? Share them with us in the comments section below.


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