Market news, information and research on selecting travel industry trade shows and strategies for success.

Why would I do a trade show now?

Planner consults with supplierDo your annual marketing and sales plans include sending out generic newsletters and loyalty program updates to every business card or contact that you have in your possession? Do you spend a lot of time trying to get to the decision makers only to get stuck leaving messages that never get returned?

It seems our sales and marketing efforts have moved away from building relationships with our clients to relying on email, websites and on line RFP's. It's time to get back to knowing your client, having them recognize your name on a personal email or voicemail and returning your messages! One of the best ways to start building that relationship is to meet them face to face, find out what they need and ensure them that you can be relied on to make things happen the way you say they will. One of the most cost effective venues to start nurturing those relationships is at a trade show.

Signed up for a trade show—now what?

Planner consults with supplierThe first article in this series covered the value of doing a trade show, talked about choosing which shows to participate in and asked that you compare your cost per contact between a sales trip and a trade show (not a consumer show). You have made your choices based on solid information from the trade show producer, your peers and your own research aligning the programs with your current target markets and annual goals.

Once you are comfortable with your choice of events to participate in, it’s time to set some goals for the trade show. Sit down with your staff and review your marketing and sales priorities for the year in that particular market. Set goals for each of those areas. Market awareness; new brand recognition; new business development; existing client support in each market, etc. What do you want to accomplish with your attendance? Make your goals realistic and measurable.

Who is representing your brand and your company at a trade show?

Planner consults with supplierThere can be a misconception within a lot of organizations that going to a trade show is akin to having the days off. All you have to do is stand there with a brochure and wait for people to walk into your booth, go out for a beer or two and a really nice meal on your expense account. That is so wrong...

If you have prepared for this event properly; contacting your clients and leads in each city, sending them an invitation to come and meet up with you at the trade show, perhaps setting up a draw that is ONLY for your pre-show contacts, as well as setting your goals in a number of areas as it relates to your property, then it will be very far from “time off.”