Cancel all your plans for the weekend because it’s Expo season again! According to travel experts everywhere, this year’s Expo’s are going to be bigger than Ben Hur! No seriously.
The punters are here (apparently) and everyone’s keen to grab a bargain or just collect as much free stuff as possible and keep the kids entertained with an endless ‘balloon and sticker run’.
So how to make the most of it as an agent? Here are my 10 tips on not just surviving but thriving at any Expo.
1. Woman’s Day
With a few cultural exceptions, always consult with the woman. According to she-conomy.com, American women in a heterosexual relationship account for 85% of retail decisions but up to 92% of holiday purchases.
Don’t be in the 8%, let the woman choose the holiday.
If my imaginary wife organised a holiday and everything went well, I would have a good time.
If my imaginary wife organised a holiday, and everything went horribly wrong, I WOULD HAVE THE GREATEST HOLIDAY OF ALL TIME!
2. Travel Insurance is compulsory not an option…
3. The Power of Three
There’s a retail theory based on Goldilocks and The Three Bears (If you are not familiar with the story, you have the worst parents in the world).
The idea, based on a number of studies, is that when given three choices, the majority of consumers will neither pick the item that is too cheap nor the one that is too expensive, but the one in the middle, which is “just right.”
In the frenzy of an expo, for time and convenience, it’s easy to focus on one single option.
The problem is that unless you’re 100% sure that there is availability on the departure your clients want, or unless you’re 100% sure your clients don’t have any preconceived ideas about certain brands, you are leaving yourself completely exposed to falling flat on your face and losing a sale.
Give a client two choices, and an overwhelmingly amount of time, they will pick the cheapest option.
But give a client three choices, and you’ll see your sales will move away from the cheapest product, and up to the next standard.
Give a client four choices, and you will become the antagonist in a Webjet commercial.
4. Right here, right now, there is no place I’d rather be
The greatest place to be at an expo is at the booth of a supplier, behind the table, during and immediately after their theatrette presentation.
During, because often time the booth is unmanned during a presentation which allows you to get behind the booth and be the expert when there are no other experts around.
And immediately afterwards, because that is when the booth will be overwhelmed with interested consumers.
If you are behind the table of a booth, you are perceived as the expert, as opposed to your colleagues who are hanging around the aisles.
It pays to have a great relationship with your BDM to the point where you can stand beside them in their booth during an expo.
But don’t get too close, relationships with BDM’s are generally over before breakfast.
5. Lemon, Lime and Bidders
In a busy environment, like an expo, you are much more likely to not only convert a sale but get the client to buy more if you are wearing a citrus based scent.
A study by Washington State University in the US revealed the clients spent on average 20% percent more in a store when it had a citrus scent infused throughout the store compared to when it did not (okay, it might have been a fruit store, but whatever).
The right perfume or cologne can make a big difference on the day.
For men, I suggest Acqua di Parma Colonia or Hugh Parsons Blue.
For women, I suggest Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Limon Verde or Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh.
As for those of you who like Unisex, and who doesn’t like unisex, it was my major and gave me four of the best years of my life, Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentree is a great buy and you smell like a smoothie.
Or let your scent reflect the product you are selling—For Canada and Alaska, smell like pine or maple; for Cruise and flop and drops, smell like coconut; for Scarborough Fair, smell like parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme; and for Las Vegas, smell like hope and desperation.
6. The Hangover
Sure, your favourite adventure Regional Director is coming up from Melbourne for the expo, and the guy doesn’t have an off button, and the last time your team went out to lunch with him, you came home three days later with a Bieber tattoo.
Expo weekends are one of the few opportunities the industry gets together en masse (the other two opportunities are Flight Centre Global and the NTIA Awards, which for the second year in a row, were booked on the same night, thanks …), but you should avoid big nights before any expo day.
If you’re like me and have no willpower, take the advice from above, and get wasted on citrus infused drinks whose scent will help you sell well, and mask the fact that you look like Animal from The Muppets.
Vodka, Lime and Soda (the hypothetical adventure Regional Director’s hypothetical drink of choice), Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau are a great start.
After seeing you after your night on the margaritas and mojitos, your clients will think, “I’m conflicted, visually you repulse me, but olfactory, I feel like spending 20 percent more.”
7. Ask Me, Ask Me, Ask Me
Amongst others, the following are four questions you need to ask before planning the holiday of a lifetime:
A) Are you currently using another consultant? This ensures you don’t create expo war by pinching one of your colleague’s clients or do a lot of hard work for somebody else.
B) Do you have specific dates you are looking at travelling? This should filter out the real travellers from the dreamers, nothing is worse than spending a great deal of time consulting with a client who is only a lotto win from going somewhere. Plus, you can look at availability, and if they are on a budget, sway them to go off-peak.
C) Who have you travelled with before, and are there operators you’d like to stay with or avoid? Keep it simple, if the client is a lifelong and devoted APT client, or a Princess Cruises Elite passenger, then this should be an easy sell.
Conversely, if they’ve travelled with an operator before and hated the trip, you lose credibility as soon as you recommend this operator. Also by asking this question, you get an idea of what type of traveller they are and a rough idea about their budget.
D) What is your budget? Never ever assume your client wants the cheapest option.
8. Everything is on sale!
Tours, flights, insurance, cruises, accommodation, your mum, your soul, that mole nobody knows about—everything is on offer.
Think outside of the box, there will be a fair few people who will turn up at the expo and be disappointed that the supplier they were hoping to book with isn’t there.
If you are the only consultant with the brochure for the operators that aren’t there and are prepared to make an offer, you can absolutely corner the otherwise disappointed market.
9. Expo is for new business only
Any established client that is just wanting to put a deposit down to secure the expo deal needs to be given your full attention prior to the expo.
All of your existing clients should be contacted and consulted outside of the expo.
The day or two for expo needs to be about you getting as many new clients and business as possible and not you taking care of business that could otherwise be taken care of in store.
10. Spare Me The Details
Get a deposit for everything, get the basic details, secure the space and deal, and organise a full consultation later on in the week.
Expo is about getting as many new clients and as much business as possible, spending hours on a consultation will limit your opportunities.
What are your tips for a successful expo? Share your thoughts below.
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