Here at DMA Partners HQ, we’re brimming over with excitement about attending World Travel Market Londonthis year. The event is billed as the “global meeting place for the travel trade” and it’s set to be a showstopping couple of days, jam-packed with networking and learning opportunities.
As with any industry event, preparation is key in order to make the event as enjoyable and productive as possible. We’ve pulled together our top 5 trade event preparation tips to help our fellow travel marketers get the most out of their next big event.
1. Research speakers, attendees and hashtags in advance
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to prepare for an event is to research speakers, attendees and event hashtags in advance. Most event organisers websites will have this sort of information listed on their website, or you should be able to find it on their social media presences with a little bit of digging.
Be sure to follow the event’s official accounts on social media to keep up to date with the latest information too. It’s also extremely valuable to follow and connect with those you’d like to meet at the event.
Often, we’ve met people at events and they’ve recognised us instantly because we followed them on Twitter a few weeks or days ahead of the event. This makes for a much warmer face to face introduction that will give you a stronger foundation for building a business relationship, especially considering that you’re likely to be in a crowded room full of unfamiliar faces!
2. Prepare and practice your elevator pitch
You only have 7 seconds to make a first impression, so you need to ensure that you’ve got your elevator pitch down to a tee.
In 60 seconds or less, you want to get across who you are, what you do, who you do it for, the problems you solve and the results you can help people achieve. If you can fit in why you do it - even better! With so much information to cram in - crafting a stellar elevator pitch is no mean feat!
Write down a couple of variations that would suit different situations and practice saying them out loud in front of a mirror until you’re confident that you’ve nailed it.
Bonus tip - After attending many events over the years, we’ve noticed that how you say things is often just as important, if not more important, than what you actually say. Make sure you’re projecting warm and friendly body language and that you speak with confidence and clarity.
3. Bring your business cards
Despite what the technophiles may tell you, business cards are very much alive and well - so don’t leave for the event without them!
Think about it - how many times have you made a great connection at an event, forgot to ask for their card and by the time you’ve returned home you can’t remember their name. We bet it’s happened more than a few times!
Bonus tip - As soon as possible from the event, use the blank space on the business card to write down notes about the person that will be beneficial when you go to follow up with them later. Perhaps they mentioned their favourite sports team or where they went to university? These seemingly irrelevant pieces of information are actually the golden nuggets that will help jog the person’s memory about your interaction and are likely to lead to a much warmer response.
4. Create a list of conversation starters
Have you ever met someone at an event and struggled to keep up a conversation with them beyond the elevator pitch and some small talk about the weather? You need some simple conversation starters to break the ice!
Here are a few of our favourite conversation starters:
How did you get into the travel sector?
Which speaker sessions have you attended/are you planning to attend?
What’s your biggest takeaway from the event so far?
What do you think about (newsworthy topic)? (For example - How do you think blockchain will impact the travel industry?)
Next time you start to feel the conversation drying out, just use one of these questions to breathe new life into your conversation.
5. Determine your goals
Last but not least, it’s important to be clear about what you want to get out of attending the event. Do you want to learn more about industry trends? Do you want to meet potential clients? Do you want to gain media exposure for your brand?
The possibilities for what can be achieved by attending trade events are endless. Because of this, it can be tempting to forget about goal setting and attend events with an open mind, but this isn’t always the most beneficial approach in the long run.
Try creating a list of 2-3 specific and measurable goals related to the event. With a list like this, you’ll be able to evaluate the ROI of attending the event afterwards. This can help you identify whether it is an event you want to attend again in the future or think about what you’d do differently next time around to achieve your goals.
Will you be attending WTM London? Tweet us @DMA_Partners and let us know and don’t forget to keep an eye out for us at the event.