THE TRADE SHOW DEBATE
On a positive note trade shows are bigger nowadays, there’s more meat to them and they’ve been transformed by technology, but on the flipside they’re also more saturated and wrought with ever more competition than before. They are no longer just a business to business platform and it’s not about paying for exhibition space and smiling through the four-day period waiting for foot traffic to your stand.
Tourism today is all about standing out and being a challenger brand, and trade shows should be approached in the same way. Our industry is a “people industry” and the sector is all about “connecting”, building and maintaining a strong network.
I have been asked about the relevance of trade shows many times and the debate rages on. So, are trade shows still relevant for the industry today?
Absolutely! I believe trade shows will always have a key role in the sales cycle as a lead-generating tool and relationship-building platform. The key is in how you approach trade shows, being focused and knowing exactly what you want out of them.
At Destinate, we look at the market we will be approaching for clients and strategically pick out messages we would like to share with trade and media whilst there. We proactively set up meetings with media and trade ahead of departure and at the event we network – expand and build upon our networks and relationships with trade, media, bloggers and the industry at large. Our work does not stop when the exhibition hall closes for the day – we do our best work with media and trade over dinner, coffee and wine outside of the trade show environment. Key for us is to host at least one experiential event for clients away from the trade show where real conversations and deeper interaction with the brand and its representatives can take place.
Trade shows have also now become a learning hub – not only during conversations and networking, but also through the conferences and sharing sessions that are offered during the trade show period. These are great opportunities to learn, to share knowledge and pick up on the latest trends that impact the travel and tourism industry globally. We then translate trends and what we have learned into practical learnings and tips shared on our platforms within the context of our environment and our clients.
Trade shows bring industry, top trade, media and thought leaders from around the globe together to do business, network and share learnings. Being well prepared, connected, and focused on what you want to achieve - as well as using trade shows as platforms to create opportunities to stand out and be noticed - keep them relevant for us.
Yes, they are expensive but industry role players can link up to create marketing partnerships, identify PR and marketing representatives to work with or join a destination stand to share costs with other exhibitors.
The bottom line is that we must create our own opportunities and be really well prepared.
A longer version of this blog first appeared on Tourism Update, 23 March 2015: read more here