Trade Show Pointers: 7-minute Appointment Tips

Recently a tour operator came up to me at a conference and said, “If I hear one more word about new sheets or a special exhibit, I’m going to scream.”

This made me think about how painful it would be to sit through more than a hundred of these 7-minute meetings if every one of them sounded the same. 

We came up with three proven pointers to help you better engage the operator and build the relationship you need to boost your ROI.

Ask a meaningful question. You’ve got two options in an appointment – talk about everything your organization has or ask a great question so the operator can tell you what they need from you. As salespeople, our first reaction is to make a pitch; that gets boring. Start instead with a probing question like, “What do you like best about your favorite [hotel, museum, show, city, etc.]?” or “What’s the best thing a supplier has done this year to help you impress a group?” or “What are you looking for from an organization like mine?” or “How can we be a part of your best tour next year?” This will get the operator talking about what’s important to them and you can match your conversation to suit their needs.

Share something personal. It’s much easier to do business with someone you can relate to. Here’s your chance to make a meaningful business move and a new friend in the process. Don’t be afraid to open up a bit personally and help the buyer feel more comfortable doing business with you. Some of my best business relationships started by sharing a humorous story about my dog, mismatched shoes, kitchen accident, etc. Suddenly I wasn’t just another guy making a pitch, I was someone they could relate to.

The last of these three pointers is our personal favorite. 

Take a booth break. If you already know the operator, they may appreciate a few minutes to stretch their legs, get a soft drink or grab a snack. Use your 7 minutes to walk-n-talk. This shows the operator that you care about their wellbeing as much as you do about their business. You can still mention the highlights, new features & key talking points AND you’ll stand out as the appointment they had that wasn’t like all of the others.

Mentoring, training and representation programs are offered by Relate Strategy Group help suppliers reach more buyers. For more information, click here.



Over the last few years we’ve seen major commercial and real estate developments that have brought countless new hotels, attractions and activities online throughout North America. Travelers have more options than ever before. 

A great example of this can be found in New York City. The city has added about 8,000 rooms since 2014. In NYC & Company’s most recent Hotel Occupancy, ADR & Room Demand report, they point out a 5.1% increase in year over year demand and average daily rates that have fallen more than 11% since 2014. 

We’ve also seen a number of attractions pop up over the last few years that are built to satisfy a very specific consumer interest and many that rely on flashy interactive elements. If the digital age, twitter, instagram and facebook have taught us anything it’s that trends are more short-lived than ever before; what was cool and amazing this morning has been replaced by something fun and exciting this afternoon. The same holds true for digital experiences - attractions spend years developing digital experiences that will be surpassed by app & game developers before the holiday season is over. 



The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest, generating over 7.6 trillion in direct, indirect and induced economic impact in 2016. Silicon Valley has taken notice. 

In the last 18-24 months, we’ve seen companies like Expedia, GetYourGuide, FareHarbor, Musement, Redeam, Peek, Klook, withlocals, Airbnb Experiences, and others raise hundreds of millions of dollars in capital to disrupt the travel industry. 

In much the same way that Uber & Lyft changed the way people hail cabs, many of these platforms are on a mission to bridge the gap between consumer and those in-destination experiences they crave.

Industry insiders can expect to see more options to manage distribution channels, inventory, pricing strategies, sales online, and much more. 



What makes a great guide? Does someone with a profound understanding of an area and great passion for the product need to have a license to share their interest with visitors? Where’s the line between services offered by passionate locals and those offered by the places people want to visit on tour?

We’ve seen stories about theme park season pass holders who offer their time to share insight, tips and park shortcuts with consumers. Should museum members be allowed to offer tours that compete with those led by museum staff? There was even a healthy, somewhat heated panel discussion at a recent conference between leaders from traditional sightseeing companies and tech platforms that connect consumers with passionate locals. 

Cities and experience providers will be tasked with making room for innovation while also ensuring that the content provided to consumers is accurate, safe and meets a certain standard. 

We think this will work itself out in much the same way local taxi and livery commissions have had to adapt to accommodate popular ride share programs.



It is quickly becoming a hot debate as more destinations are feeling the impact of growing numbers of tourists. The US National Park System announced some pretty drastic admission fee increases this year; local condo development and feedback from new area residents forced the Ultra Music Festival out of downtown Miami and Barcelona’s residents launched major protests against crowds of tourists. 

All of this has led to many destinations talking about placing limits on the number of tourists that visit each year. While some critics argue that putting a cap on the number of tourists will hurt local economies, others argue that we are quickly destroying natural environments and overcrowding cities. The age old question remains then, what is this balance? 

Recently, some of the biggest destinations have begun implementing a cap on tourist numbers and only time will tell if this is the way of future travel. Click here to learn about 8 destinations that have put a cap on visits. 



In a recent Forbes article, Steve Denning asked, “Why storytelling?” To which he responded “Simple: nothing else works.”

When it comes to inspiring visitors to change their behavior or try a new product, they’re most captivated by great stories. It’s really the only thing that works. Travel buyers’ eyes glaze over when looking at slides; they aren’t reading all of the information you’ve written for them and reasons don’t make people change. 

Those who can present their product, destination or service with a compelling story will land the sale. Those who rely on bells & whistles without providing context will fall short of their goals.

See also: The Science Of Storytelling



During more challenging economic times, companies tend to focus on specialized training and development programs that meet immediate business challenges pushing those that challenge employees to improve their core communication, critical thought, collaborative and creative skills to the side.

Recent articles in Forbes, Business Weekly and by the American Management Association all point to a growing focus on developing and cultivating fundamentals skills like teamwork, writing for business, problem solving and ingenuity as keys to employee retention, customer satisfaction, company morale and increased productivity.

3 Steps to Better Trade Marketing, Better Connections, and Better Results



When you’re not seeing the results and success you want in your business, it’s time to talk to a travel trade marketing expert.



During your call, tell us about your vision. Before you hang up, you’ll have the outline to a plan that will lead you to your goals.



Start welcoming more visitors, generating more leads and building stronger relationships with travel trade buyers.



Stephen Ekstrom is a well-recognized tourism marketing expert whose influence reaches millions of travelers every year. He's been profiled by the New York Times and appeared on CBS, NBC and NY1. He is a fixture in the travel trade and has served as a board member, expert panelist, committee chair, mentor and program facilitator. Relate Strategy Group, founded by Ekstrom in 2010, manages a network of over 22,000 opted-in global travel trade buyers and professional travel planners, advising, teaching and assisting smart travel industry suppliers and destination marketers. Stephen currently lives in South Florida with his two dogs, Match & Rudy.