Every year, hotel and destination professionals flock to various conferences and trade shows for meeting planners and event professionals, hoping to get their attention and bring awareness about their destination, hotel or service. As someone who has both walked the trade show floor, as well as been on the receiving end at reverse trade shows, there are some trade show sales tips that have resonated with me, and likely those sales professionals saw greater post-trade show sales than others who deliver a canned presentation. Below are my top do’s and don’ts when meeting #eventprofs on the trade show floor:
–be friendly, smile and look approachable -introduce yourself, not by job title but by your value statement. “I hope to make your day by showing you a hotel option like no other you’ve seen before.” “I have the pleasure of working with planners at one of the trendiest hotels in the area!”
-treat the first interaction as a “get to know you” versus a “data dump”
– qualify the client with the list of questions below
–refer the client to other options if their business is not a good fit for you.
–introduce your work colleague by name if the client’s market is not your own; ask for the clients card to give to your colleague after the show
–pick 2-3 highlights of what they shared about their programs, and show how your hotel/destination/service would meet their needs. Tie it back to what they just shared
-acknowledge your competition in a friendly way, and show how you are different and meet their goals
-listen. For everything. Listen for cues about their meetings, but also cues about their personal life. Building a relationship can be done quicker if you do so as a friendly ally, not as a salesperson.
-be on your phone; you’re not approachable this way
-launch into a full blown presentation showing every meeting room, every guest room etc The client will not remember all these details after they leave your booth.
-don’t speak poorly of the competition; they have their ideal client profile, just like you do yours. Speaking poorly of them says more about you (and not in a good way) than it does about the competition
-ignore what they’ve said…. acknowledge their information and if its not a good fit, don’t try to sell them on something that may be impossible for them to buy.
When you’re trying to build a new relationship with a meeting planner, something that may set you apart from other sales professionals is the ability to ask good questions. With trade show clientele, sometimes it difficult to research the prospective buyer before they show up at your booth. Here are some questions to help spark a meaningful dialogue, and give you opportunity to grow your sales and your personal reputation as a great sales manager:
- have you used/booked our hotel/destination in the past?
- what is your group size?
- what are the demographics of the group?
- what are the goals of the program?
- what are the deciding factors for choosing a destination/hotel/service?
If your prospective client plans multiple programs or works in site selection, these trade show sales tips and questions may help determine if they are a good fit for today and for futures:
- do any of your programs come to our destination?
- do you plan business meetings, incentives, or conferences?
- what are some of your typical group sizes?
- do you serve different demographics?
- what industries do you service?
- do you plan corporate, association or SMERF meetings?
By employing these trade show sales tips, you’re well on your way to differentiating your value proposition and increasing your sales from the trade show experience. Good luck!
(PS. Looking for other ways to get a meeting planner’s attention? See my tips here!)
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