IPW has just ended or you’re headed home from another tourism trade show – now what? Back at the office, it’s important to remember – the trade show efforts are not over. The days after are often the most critical for keeping the momentum going and to help generate ROI. As you heard others say at the show “It’s all about the follow up.”
Here are the easy things to do after US Travel Association’s IPW – that’ll make a major difference in your ability to attract more tourists, tour operators, group visits and big accounts.
Add prospects to your CRM straight away.
Make sure you gather all your leads and have them organized in your database. Whether you collected emails via iPads, received business cards, got a spreadsheet from your DMO booth partner or through another format, this is critical. It is also important to label these contacts as “Trade Show Attendee” and the specific event they attended. That way, when you follow up, it’s easy to remember where the connection happened.
Email your leads within one week of the trade show.
Create and send a personalized email to prospects you met at the trade show. Make sure to include:
Questions that encourage them to respond. Examples: “What did you think of the Star Wars night?” or “Who was your favorite lunch performer?”
A call to action – such as visiting your company’s site, taking part in a free demo or giving them free information through a blog or PDF download. This could also be a link to the resources (photos, suggested text, API information, etc.) your company offers to trade buyers so they can activate your product more quickly.
It doesn’t hurt to include a photo of you and your team looking excited at the trade show booth. This visual will help remind the recipient of who you and your company are!
Call the top leads.
While email is great, talking voice-to-voice is even better. Getting to know them on a conversational level is only going to help grow that relationship and, as a result, your chance of doing business with them. It may be hard to call all the leads, so focus on the ones you had the strongest connection with and feel have potential to bring in the most business.
Connect via LinkedIn.
Continue the relationship building by connecting on LinkedIn. Take it to the next level, by endorsing their skills, liking the articles they post and commenting (positively!) on their posts. That shows a true effort and level of care on you & your company’s part. It will also help to build your own credibility and visibility by expanding your personal network. (PS - You can connect with me on LinkedIn here.)
Ask for feedback.
Whether via email, phone or a direct mail piece, ask for feedback from the people met at your trade show. Ask questions relevant to your and their industry – such as:
What did they think of their experience at the trade show & with your trade show booth?
What any hurdles may be in working with this type of product or service – Why are they hesitant?
The most helpful thing your company could offer them.
Oh, and don’t be afraid to give an incentive. Perhaps they’ll be entered into a raffle for a big prize or gift card if they share feedback.
Referrals – Go Get Em!
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals – in a non-aggressive manner, of course. At the end of your call or email, suggest something along the lines of, “Is there anyone else you know that could benefit from our product/services?” It’s a fast, easy way to expand your reach to not only the contacts from the trade show – but to the decision makers they know who may not have been at the show!
Write a blog to address any questions posed by trade show attendees.
Was there a question(s) you got a lot at the trade show? This shows what your target demographic wants to know. Make sure to address this by writing a blog. You can even turn that into a LinkedIn article and a email newsletter to blast out.
Partner with industry experts to create content.
After the trade show, you can answer more questions or highlight hot topics at the event by bringing in an expert to do a guest blog on your website. Perhaps there was a speaker or tourism representative at the marketplace that would be willing to do a quick write up? If people already follow the expert, this collaboration may bring some of their followers to your website – and your offerings.
Measure. Measure. Measure.
Take time to go over the numbers. Ask questions, such as:
“How many leads did I generate total?”
“What was the overall value of the leads, referrals and new connections made at this trade show?”
“Did we reach out trade show goals?
If you didn’t reach your goals, or are nervous about an upcoming trade show’s objectives, there are easy ways to make sure that happens. Talk to one of our experts about your goals, plans and what can be done to help you achieve your goals, moving forward.
About the Author…
Stephen Ekstrom is a well-recognized tourism marketing expert whose influence reaches millions of travelers every year. He's been profiled by the New York Times and appeared on CBS, NBC and NY1. He is a fixture in the travel trade and has served as a board member, expert panelist, committee chair, mentor and program facilitator. Fire Starter Brands, founded by Ekstrom in 2010, manages a network of over 6,000 opted-in global travel trade buyers, advising, teaching and assisting smart travel industry suppliers and destination marketers. Stephen currently lives in South Florida with his two dogs, Match & Rudy.