It’s raining exhibitions...

WITH a slew of trade exhibitions coming up, here in the Middle East, its time once again for hotel and airline companies and travel agents to brush up their business of marketing. The effectiveness and purpose of a trade show have been questioned by many, given the high costs involved, easy access to clients via email and social media and then innovative new ideas like virtual exhibitions.

One of the biggest advantages of attending a trade show is that it draws a lot of media attention thus providing an excellent platform for companies to make large announcements or unveil new products. For hotel companies that have properties across the world, it provides an opportunity to meet and discuss their product with the trade on a one-to-one basis. But for many other companies, a trade show provides an opportunity to simply interact, network and build new or strengthen relationships.

For an exhibitor, one of the biggest drawbacks has been the fact that exhibiting at a show still remains to be a costly marketing channel. In order to make the most of the money and time spent at an event, it is essential to understand your objectives for participation and ensure you are exhibiting at an event that gives your maximum returns. It is key to set specific goals and start interaction with your buyers and media well in advance. Invite more prospects to your stand and ascertain quickly what you have to offer. Most shows have hundreds, if not thousands, of stands and as visitors and buyers work their way up and down the aisles, it is quiet easy to get lost in the crowd. Effective displays, Live demonstrations and an encouraging and enthusiastic team is essential to ensure you generate interest.

For an agent, a trade show is a one-stop shop of travel suppliers in the region providing them with real-time information, while providing updates on their plans for the year ahead. Once again, the key factor lies in ensuring you visit the right show. The more specialised the show, the better your prospects of achieving your objective. Most trade shows and exhibitions have an impressive line up for travel experts speaking on various industry-related topics. It is always recommended to engage in these educational programmes or interactive workshops that would keep you up-to-date with the latest industry trends and practices. With travel going more online, travel companies are constantly developing new agent tools to help them compete against the giants in this industry and what better place to speak to the experts, than at a trade show.

Finally for the visitors, a travel show or exhibition can be melting pot of holiday ideas. From discovering new, interesting destination, unusual hotels or even snapping up a good deal, consumer days can be fun and entertaining!

Whether participating at a show as an exhibitor or buyer, remember to follow up post show. Prompt follow up creates a positive impression of being organised, professional and that you value your relationship with the client or business contact.

And lastly, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes.

Speaking Out

By Shalu Chandran