International Trade Shows for the Travel Industry – Are they still relevant?

We are on our way to London to attend World Travel Market. The show is held every year in November and it is one of the largest travel industry gatherings in the world. The trip is costly, hotels are at a premium and we will be out of the office for an entire week.

So in this day and age with the ability to connect with customers, partners and employees around the world does it still make sense to attend the best travel trade shows such as ITB in Germany, FIT in Argentina, ABAV in Brazil, Pow-Wow in the USA etc. Some people think trade shows or trade fairs are a marketing method from a bygone era.

At one point in time, trade shows were a staple in most travel company’s marketing budget. But in this internet age, they have been greatly reduced in the marketing mix, if not taken completely out of the picture. Some cruise lines, hotel companies and airlines have completely disappeared from the list of exhibitors.

There are many reasons for this. First and foremost, the ROI of trade shows was always very questionable for most exhibitors. In marketing departments there were discussions during budget time, on whether to continue the expense of the expensive global shows. They always seemed important to be at, but usually it was pretty difficult to make a direct correlation to enough actual revenue, to justify the large expense. As the internet became more prominent, this ROI looked even worse in comparison–as it did for many other “offline” marketing methods, such as traditional direct mail and print advertising. In some cases the shows became more of a resume exchange venue than a business opportunity venue.

So are trade shows now obsolete? Probably not, and for us it is still a great way to meet existing and future customers and partners. Where can we go to one venue and meet clients from all continents? And what would the cost be to fly to see all those customers? The importance to be face to face with our customers and partners is still extremely important.

So we are glad the global travel trade shows are still around. But we have to be smart about how we go to these trade shows.
If we just fly to a city, set up your booth, and wait for new customers to flock by to see us, we are likely to be very disappointed in the return on investment. The key is preparation and planning, to make sure our results are optimized and we come back home with concrete results.

See you in London. Travel safe.

travel trade shows