In an ever-growing world of digital communications, deadlines and rising cost of business travel, justifying attendance at trade shows to the ‘money man’ can be challenging. Explaining how much value you gain from attending, apart from simple sales leads, can be incomprehensible to someone who sees the world in simple ROI and dollars and cents.
Of course, everyone expects to see a return on investment for money spent on marketing and promotion, and every dollar needs to be justified and accounted for. However, the ROI of attending a trade show should be calculated in far more than the money out/money in model.
Face to Face Meetings
The management of group and incentive travel is still a very personal affair. Whereas holidays and individual trips can be booked online through a myriad of booking sites, the bespoke requirements of an incentive trip make this a virtual impossibility. Trusting a group, no matter how small or large, to an unknown person or company is a risk, so recommendations and personal knowledge of those providing on-the-ground services are key. Trade shows still provide the means to meet decision makers face-to-face, on both sides of the industry. That is a great reason to send your best people to trade shows, not simply order takers or PR executives.
Attendance at trade shows introduces you to new ideas and perspectives. Allowing time in your busy schedule to walk around and see what others are doing is key, even if you don’t have time to sit in on presentations and briefings. Pick up marketing material, look at the different stands, see what is popular and which stands are attracting the most attention – it’s all contributing to your knowledge and understanding of the market and current business climate.
Talk to the show organisers and your peers, find out what the business trends are; the newcomers and the no-shows. Again, this all contributes to market knowledge. Simply being amongst your peers, your clients and your competition can give you a boost, stimulate creative juices and re-energise you, particularly if you often work remotely or in an isolated location.
The Network Advantage
Participating in a trade show with a network or professional association gives you access to the vast wealth of knowledge shared by your fellow members, their experiences and their networks. Make the most of this time and get to know your colleagues, talk about industry challenges, operational ideas and the state of markets and business. Broaden your knowledge of the world, the people and the industry. Participating with a network also alleviates those potentially lonely evenings after the show, giving you like-minded people to meet with after the day’s activities, even if only for a drink.
You Get What You Give
The old adage ‘you only get out what you put in’ holds true with trade shows, and your pre-show preparation is as important as your post-show follow up. Make sure your appointment diary is full with verified meetings; be prepared for those meetings; follow up as soon as possible after the show – but that is all part of trade show attendance. The additional benefits you receive come from the effort you make during the trade show to learn as much as you can, talk to as many different people as possible, and gather new ideas and intelligence to help you move forward successfully in business.
Trade shows should be energising and invigorating, and not a chore to be endured.
World of DMCs participates in IMEX Frankfurt and IBTM Barcelona every year, with between 12 and 20 members joining the stand each time. Many more members exhibit on their country stands, or with other networks, but find the time to join our members dinners and meetings. To be part of this network, reach out to email@example.com and register your interest in joining.