For hotels and the Caribbean travel industry, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)’s annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace is the big event of the year. When almost 500 supplier delegates from more than 200 companies across 30 countries along with more than 100 media representatives converge with over 200 delegates from close to 100 buyer companies you know it’s going to be exciting place brimming with potential.
You’ve requested your appointments, received your schedules, but as a buyer (tour operators, OTAs and MICE) or supplier (hotels, destinations, and attractions) – how do you make the most of this unprecedented opportunity?
- Do your research. As someone who has sat at a booth as a supplier, I’ve seen several out-of-breath buyers show up with little to no knowledge of the property I’m representing. That’s not a good start. The one’s we’ve ended up remembering and eventually doing business with are those who know who their whos, whats, and whys. The more personalized to the property you can make the meeting the better.
- Get to know the floor plan beforehand. Why? Because with a packed schedule it can become daunting moving from booth to booth in a large convention center if you don’t know what islands are grouped where. On the same note – get to know your schedule beforehand and make sure you know what island each supplier you’re visiting is on. This is going to make actually making your meetings a whole lot easier and keep you focused on what’s important instead of apologizing for being late.
- Make sure you go to the events. Marketplace is a bit like speed dating so it’s important to show face and further the initial connections you made all day during the evenings’ activities.
- Follow up. All those business cards you collect, fliers from suppliers, and pamphlets from everyone else – follow up with all of them. A personalized email specific to what was discussed goes a long way towards making lasting connections.
- Make sure you have EVERYTHING you need to do business. Since a lot of deals are finalized during appointments, you need to have your rates, fact sheets, brochures, in addition to your billing, deposit, and refund policies on hand.
- Go the extra mile when setting up your booth. Showcase your product at its absolute best with slides, presentations, videos, clippings of positive press coverage, a calendar of events, lift schedules, a map of your destination and more. The old adage of first impressions last a lifetime will always ring true.
- Be sure to highlight upgrades, activities, recognitions, amenities, and awards in addition to anything that has changed since last year. Pointing out the value for money is important.
- Prepare a press kit and high res press images for the press room.
- Be consistent with your rates and the factors that you take into consideration when building them because buyers often trade information from suppliers with each other.
- Just as we suggested to buyers – Take notes during each meeting in order to immediately follow up with personalized emails, and of course, be sure to attend the networking events since you never know what companies you’ll bump into, speak with, and where that can further the interests of your property, destination, or attraction.
We’ll see you at CHTA in San Juan! In the meantime, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org