Every year, thousands flock to trade shows around the world to share knowledge, meet industry experts, build business relationships and of course, sell their products and services. Whether you have something to show, someone to meet, or something to learn, trade shows can be an excellent way to do it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to that crucial time of year, setting budgets and deciding where to spend your marketing funds, trade shows are often one of the first to be axed. Investing in attending a tradeshow can be relatively expensive, both in a monetary sense and in a human resource sense.
The argument to not attend a trade show becomes more compelling when the return on your investment is so difficult to measure. Often sales from trade shows take a long time to materialise. You and your competitors are literally side-by-side, your customers drawing comparisons is inevitable. Not to mention, your success is at the mercy of the event organisers ability to draw the right kinds of customers in the door.
So, with all that being said, there is an abundance of reasons why investing in attending trade shows can help your tour operator business. Here’s three reasons why you should attend a trade show in 2019.
The most obvious benefit to trade shows is the opportunity they offer to showcase your product to an engaged and targeted audience. This is marketing at it’s best! When organised well, the people attending a trade show are perfectly primed to receive your value proposition. Make sure to take full advantage of this and show them what you have to offer.
Holding an exhibit at a reputable trade show not only portrays your tour operator business as professional, reliable and organised, but it cements your brand as a recognisable part of the industry, thus keeping your business top of mind for your potential customers.
If you don’t quite feel like taking the plunge and investing in your own exhibit you can still get a lot out of the networking opportunities that trade shows provide. In fact, some would argue that 1-to-1 networking is where the biggest returns come. The formalities of an exhibit are broken down, relationships are formed between you and potential customers, and it is much easier to tailor your conversations to the people you are meeting with.
You’ve been welcomed into a room jam-packed full of industry professionals, make the most of it! There may be businesses that you can build relationships with and other industry veterans that you can gain some valuable insight from. All it takes is putting yourself and your business out there!
Networking at trade shows doesn’t have to take place at organised networking events – although most shows do organise these for exhibitors. Walking around the exhibitions, attending learning sessions, or even spending some time in break out zones can often result in a spontaneous meeting which can yield the same results. Why not do something different like giving out USB sticks, branded shirts, or even free cuddles! It pays to research the exhibitors list beforehand so that you can target the organisations you want to spend time talking to in order to get the greatest benefit from the limited time you have available.
It really pays to go into these trade shows with the attitude of being a sponge and soaking up all there is to learn from the industry experts, resources and fellow travel professionals all in attendance.
Scope out your key competitors to see what they are up to, or take a look at others in your niche that are doing things slightly differently. There is always something to learn from others whether it be an interesting marketing technique, a software they utilise or a new market segment you haven’t thought about breaking into yet.
Most trade shows offer seminars and talks from industry experts. Decide which ones you are interested in and learn a bit more about the travel industry and where it’s heading in the future. Upskilling and increasing your knowledge is never a bad thing, and these sessions can often be a great facilitator for networking too!
Take the opportunity to pick up some of the many resources on offer. From How-To guides and handbooks to workshop notes and PowerPoint slides, there’s sure to be something to interest you. To get you started take a look at our resource library, you may find something to interest you.