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A Guide to Trade Fair Selection & What Comes After

19 Mar 2019

As much as we like to simplify the process behind business travel, there are multiple variables at work that determine how often and in what capacity a company will seek representation at a trade event of any nature. Business travel is, after all, an investment and a return on this investment is a primary concern for owners. The last thing anyone wants is to spend thousands upon thousands to showcase at a trade fair and only register losses from the outing. To avoid this precise outcome, we have created a comprehensive guide:

Step 1: Define Your Main Goal

What precisely do you wish to achieve by attending a trade fair? A defined, measurable purpose either makes or breaks a performance at such events. Not every trade show or exhibition has the same strengths and usefulness. Some are useful as procurement platforms. Others have more of an informational function. Do you want to work on brand awareness? Do you want to generate sales leads? Perhaps there’s a new product you wish to introduce to the market and you want some buzz before it officially drops. Know this reason and break it down into measurable metrics. Then the right trade fair will present itself.

Step 2: Put Together a Budget

Money talks. You don’t go anywhere without a budget. A detailed budget (with provisions for an emergency situation) allows you to see whether it’s feasible to travel in the near future, this year or you have to postpone it for next year. It’s not wise to travel abroad, when the financial strain of that trip might put your company’s wellbeing in jeopardy. Potential underperformance at the event will not only disappoint, but also put the business in a critical state that will take time to redress.

Step 3: Research Every Aspect

Once you know you can afford to travel without risk, it’s time to research whether that’s possible to meet your needs on the road. This is perhaps the most time-consuming task as you have to look into flights, check availability for hotels near the exhibition centre, figure out how to navigate the host city and most importantly, know the marketing options at the trade fair itself. The goal is to maximize the effectiveness of every aspect of your trip, and keep it within budget. Sometimes the city you’re travelling to is too expensive or you can’t find the right hotel at the right location, or the trade fair in question has little in terms of marketing exhibitors. Assess whether the obstacles are manageable.

Step 4: Make an Exhibition Calendar

While steps one through three define your availability to travel at a specific moment in time, step four opens you up to possibilities in the future. You have come across several events relevant for your industry and at different times, you’re likely to travel to all of them. However, to make that decision making process all the simpler, we suggest you keep an up-to-date exhibition calendar – a handy visualisation tool to keep tabs on different trade fairs, exhibitions and shows in time. You might not commit to a business trip every year, but this doesn’t mean you should stay in the dark as to what’s out there. Knowing in advance gives you a starting momentum for when you do decide to exhibit and that’s what an exhibitor calendar is for.

Step 5: Select the Right Team for the Fair

By now, you’ve circled the dates on your calendar and the time approaches to board the plane to the trade fair of your choice. You have planned the logistics to the smallest detail. What remains is to select the right team for the job. Once again this decision calls for further examination of your motives for going. Retrace your thinking process to step one, because that’s going to narrow down the skill set you’ll need on site. Another very practical concern is the number. You don’t want to be over-staffed or under-staffed. Take a look at your exhibition stand – how many people does it need to be manned effectively.

Step 6: Make the Most out of Your Visit

We have come to the end. All the pre-planning has paid off. You’ve used your budget wisely and find it easy to commute from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the trade fair. Your stand runs smoothly and you have the right people for the job. Now all that remains is to get through the event and talk to whoever comes to your exhibition stand, right? Wrong – you have to go out of your way to be proactive in finding prospective clients. Schedule meetings with current partners. Attend matchmaking events. Utilize the programming to your advantage to gain valuable insight for your niche. Leverage any and all existing contacts to gain introductions to decision makers. Take down the information of anyone you talk to and follow through once you return to the office.

It’s a lot of hard work, but follow this guide to the last letter and every business trip will be a solid stepping stone for your brand and catalyst for growth.

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