It’s no secret that people thrive on the carnival-like atmosphere of a consumer trade show.
But, any trade show can be a substantial expense for exhibitors and it can be hard to quantify value, unless you plan. To maximise your show value, look beyond the booth. Here are 10 ideas to stretch the value of your trade show investment.
1.Plan ahead. I estimate that a typical travel trade show booth with travel costs to attend, wages to pay for a couple of employees, designing, building, insuring, and shipping a display can easily cost 6 to 10 thousand dollars. For some exhibits, it can be much higher. Create a budget as if it was a profit and loss statement. Don’t forget to plan for emergencies and contingencies. (what will you do if your display gets stuck in the airport?) Could you generate a profit at a trade show? You probably won’t if you leave it all to chance.
2.Understand what your goals are by creating a grid of specific objectives:
- generate 100 qualified consumer leads;
- meet 30 previous customers;
- recruit 5 new channel partners (travel agents, wholesalers);
- evaluate 5 competitors;
- scope out 5 new potential suppliers, etc.
3.Work pre-show promotions and activities. A travel show is a perfect time to:
- build interest around your company;
- to invest in additional local advertising;
- have sales people call up previous customers;
- invite new channel partner prospects to visit you at the booth.
4.Make sure to spend some time talking with the show organiser to understand how you might piggy back on what they are doing to drive people into the show. They know that people come to travel shows to hunt out deals and to be inspired. And many come out to enter the contests. They know that there are trends that will drive up visitation, like cashing in on the current fascination with food. They might have brand name chefs performing live, or restaurant reviewers on a panel. The organisers also know to use a multitude of communication channels to reach people and incent them to buy tickets. Find out ways you might be able to make use of their knowledge to create ways of getting your objectives in #2.
5.Send out stories to local press about your programs, or a new destination or a fascinating story of your own exploration of a place.
6.Target digital ads to people using on their mobile phones using geo location filtering for a two or three block radius of the show venue. Entice them come to your display.
7.Create show promotions. Special prices, special departures, pre-season, post-season deals only at show booth. Create compelling offers that entice people to book now on your online booking engine.
8.Forget the fishbowl. Don’t waste your time collecting contest names at your booth. You’ll never have any idea which are legitimate prospects, which are tire kickers and which might even be your competitors trying snoop on your business. Furthermore, with anti-spam legislation, you can’t just randomly add names and email addresses anymore.
9.Use extroverts in your booth. Let them be the greeters and the attractors. Teach them how to qualify people quickly into good or bad leads, and how to move the bad leads along. Funnel good leads to another member who can close the sale or get commitment to a next step. If the goal is to get “X” QUALIFIED leads, you need to have a quick action plan to identify, qualify and channel booth visitors.
10.Debrief after. Did you reach your targets? What things worked? What did not? Have a full debriefing with staff and identify success and weaknesses. Make good notes and refer to them before your next show.
You must also commit to follow up quickly with any leads after every show to make sure they are captured into your sales funnel.