There’s a trend in the meetings industry that has come on strong in the last few years, away from the traditional tradeshow format, and towards appointment based reverse tradeshows and hosted buyer programs.
There may always be a place for the tried and true 10×10 booths and large exhibition halls. It’s a great place for brands to gain exposure and to meet and greet new prospective clients. But it may not be the best place anymore to close business and learn intimate details of client needs.Appointment based shows where the planner sits in a booth or a table and has the opportunity to meet with suppliers for whom they might directly have business, can have a far more reaching impact. Perhaps there are as many as twenty appointments in a day for whom I might have business for fifteen. I’ve now sent fifteen suppliers home with prospective business. And if that ratio holds, each of those suppliers went home with some lead from seventy five percent of the planners with whom they had appointments. This is a very fruitful day and far exceeds the ratio one could ever hope to achieve standing in a tradeshow booth. Plus, no one felt as if their time was wasted. And for those five suppliers for whom I don’t currently have business, maybe I just might next year, or next month, or next week.
The other trend that’s infiltrated the market and has been wholly positive for qualified planners, are the hosted buyer shows. For planners who are able to take advantage and accept these tremendous opportunities, the suppliers completely subsidize the travel and registration costs for the planner. Show operators must be careful to vet the planners thoroughly so as not to bring in a slew of unqualified buyers, but if done properly, only those planners who can provide suppliers with a real return on their investment will be there. In the end, this type of investment, while in many cases more costly than the standard trade show, is a much better and much more targeted use of dwindling marketing funds.
Traditional tradeshows may be on the way out these days, particularly as suppliers have less and less money to spend. As a planner, I’m grateful for this ever increasing trend because just as supplier’s time money is valuable, so too is the time and money of a planner. And this goes a long way towards making both sides happy.