Ask the expert exhibition travel

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There are too many trade shows and they are all expensive. Why should I travel to them?
You probably should not attempt to travel to every show on the calendar, even if it was possible. It would take all your time and blow the budget out of the water.
But that does not mean you should turn your back on shows altogether. They are still the primary way to connect with buyers and influencers in the industry. The old clich is that people buy from people, and it is true: prospects are more likely to choose your products if they have met you and heard how you describe your products and services.
The global market is shifting, and valuable new markets are opening up in Latin America, south-east Asia, the former Soviet republics and more. Buyers there are finding their way around the industry so are naturally wary, and will look to those vendors who show commitment to the market by being there.
Even if you are not looking to move into new markets, you cannot ignore the two global events, NAB and IBC. It may seem silly to fly 5000 miles just to meet a customer from around the corner, but these are global showcases and you have to be seen there.
The single most important thing about exhibitions is that customers go to trade shows with the sole intention of finding out what new solutions exist for their current problems. They want to know what you have to offer, and how you can meet their challenges. They positively want to talk about budgets and timescales. Why would you not want to be there?
Booking travel is easy online. Why would I use an agency?
The internet has transformed travel, and we all use it nowadays to book flights and hotels. If you are making a business trip on your own, or planning a family holiday, then it may well be a good idea.
But trade shows are not like that. You want to get the best possible rates at the right hotels. Everyone needs to travel in and out on different days, and the chances are at least one person will want to change travel plans before the event, usually because a sales or support opportunity comes up.
What looks like a good deal online suddenly looks locked in or expensive to change, just when you need flexibility. A specialist agency, because of their links to the hotels and airlines, will be able to give you back your flexibility, doing deals behind the scenes to meet your plans precisely. If we have booked tens or even hundreds of rooms in a hotel, we can often accommodate your changes by moving our allocation around.
There is one final point which will make life easier for your accountant or CFO. We accept your instructions, carry out your requests and send you one itemised invoice at the end of the month. No more trying to reconcile a pile of individual credit card claims to apportion costs to the event.

There are plenty of business travel agencies out there. Why should I use a specialist broadcast industry travel agent?
Because we are a part of the broadcast and media industry, we know what is important. We know which events are the big ones (so we plan in advance), we know when you will want to move in and out, and we know the best places to stay.
Being part of the industry also means we develop strong relationships with the show organisers as well as our travel partners around each event. That gives us the extra leverage we sometimes need to be able to deliver the right hotels at the right rates.
EF Travel is part of Exhibition Freighting which has now been working with all the event organisers in this industry for 30 years. As an agency we have been providing travel for people, alongside shipping the goods, for 10 years. We know who to talk to.
Finally, because your main exhibitions are our core business, we are on site throughout, so can help you directly if your plans change while you are there. If you need an extra room, or to delay your return by a couple of days to accommodate a customer visit, we can make it happen.
So you think outsourcing travel planning for exhibitions is a good thing?
The list of things you need to do to put an exhibition together is seemingly endless. Piling it all on your plate is hardly a productive use of your time. The chances are you use a specialist shipper to get the equipment and the stand onto site. Why wouldn’t you use a similar specialist to get the people there, on time and in good condition?
Rather than spend hours in front of your computer making individual arrangements and nervously comparing the countless different fares and rates with all their uniquely baffling conditions, you can make one phone call to a company that knows the event you are talking about and knows what you need. We can hold seats and rooms while your plans get firmed up.
It is a big chunk of administration you can pass on, leaving you time to concentrate on the really important part of the planning: sales, customer service and getting the product out to the people who matter.

I’ve been going to NAB and IBC for years – I know what I want and how to book it.
If you are a regular at the big events then you may well have your own favourite places to stay. That does not mean you will not reap the practical benefits of having someone manage the reservations on your behalf.
Even in the regular venues, things change. For many visitors to Broadcast Asia, for example, the Pan-Pacific is the place to stay. Not this year: the hotel is closed for an extensive refurbishment.
We spotted that early and booked plenty of rooms for our clients in what we think will become the new favourite place to stay. Call me to find out where it is!

I want to look at an exhibition in a new market, but the budget is really tight.
If you are going to an event in a new city, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you have chosen the right hotel, if you are going to be able to get from it to the convention centre, and if you are going to be mugged every time you step outside the front door.
So talk to a specialist. Whenever we get involved in a new event we do the research to find out which are the best hotels at various price points. We visit as many as we can. We will certainly solve all the logistical questions. Our reputation depends on us delivering a safe travel experience for our clients.
Because we will book multiple clients into our hotels, we also start the social interaction and networking which is such an important part of travelling to conventions. You know that if we suggest a hotel it is certainly a good choice, and the chances are there will be peers and friends staying there too.
However hard I try to nail down everyone’s requirements, someone always wants to make a change to their plans, which always ends up costing a fortune.

A specialist travel agency, which understands the broadcast business, will be able to discuss your plans with you and help decide the best course of action. We make sure you get the right reservations for your needs.
And, when those needs change – as they always will – then the same expert consultant is just a phone call away to help. No need to go back through endless electronic files trying to find all the terms and conditions on a direct booking. Talk to us and we will tell you what we can do – which almost always means we can sort the problem.
If you get a new executive two weeks before NAB, we can find them a room. If you need to drop a room at the last minute, then we probably know someone who can take it. The important point is that you do not have to take time out to do this: call and we will sort it.
This all sounds like a great service, so there must be a big price tag.
We guarantee to get you the best rates – and sometimes our rates are a lot better than anyone else – then we add a small management fee on top. No secret: we make it clear what we are charging, and what you get for it.
If your booking is perfect first time and there are no changes required at all, then the management fee is still going to be less than your time organising the flights and hotels. If, as is more likely, you need to change an unchangeable reservation, then our service will more than pay for itself rather than throwing away a ticket and starting again.
The travel industry relies on repeat business, so no agency can alienate clients by charging high fees and not delivering. For an industry-specific specialist like us, that is doubly true: if we upset clients not only will they not come back, they will tell their friends and then we have nowhere to go.
Use us as a resource, talk to us when you are planning each exhibition, and trust us to get you and your colleagues there. We do what we are good at and leave you more time to do what you are good at: bringing great innovative products to the world of broadcasting.

Tags: iss062 | travel | exhibition travel | exhibition hotel booking | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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