25 Nov

Both Sides Now

There has been a lot of discussion about hosted buyer groups and FAM trips lately. With IBTM World starting next week it seemed to be a good time have a look at the question, starting with Hosted Buyer Groups.

I am both a Buyer and a Supplier. 

Dezika, CTS Systems and VenueSuccess are all suppliers of event tech, in the first two cases, and reactive sales training in the third.

Venue Guru International is a venue finding company and Conference Success is a full-service event management company.

For the sake of transparency, I have not gone hosted to anything (other than the odd dinner) for at least three years. I now go to trade shows as a trade visitor and do an equal amount of Elevator Pitch selling (to be able to make connections to meet with after the show) as well as to place business as a buyer.

For many years I ran Hosted Buyer groups for Helms Briscoe, Mash Media, MCE-CEE and TTG Asia. For IBTM World and IMEX Frankfurt, the competition for buyers was fierce. By the time I gave up the hosted buyer hustle hosting there were hotel chains putting out their invitations to the show even before registration was open.

Just like with most things in life there are good buyers and bad buyers. Buyers who are ready to place business now and others who will surprise a destination or venue and months or even years later will place a major piece of business.

No-shows, people who go but only go to a few of their meetings and others who see trades shows as a jolly are often penalized by the shows financially. I have an issue with doing it this way. No, I don’t support doing any of the above but there was an instance where I had a group with me at a trade show and I had a call from the Head of the Hosted Buyer Team of the show asking me why one of my buyers hadn’t been on the floor of the show at all.  I was rather confused as she was sitting right next to me at a presentation at that very moment.

I prefer the method that TTG Asia use for their trade shows where you pay a fee and pay for the flights. If you turn up and do all of your meetings – the suppliers sticker your appointment card for you and then you get your airfare back – in CASH at the show. This certainly keeps buyers on the straight and narrow and means that people who are only going along for a freebie have to think twice.

Like everything, trade shows from the buyer’s side should only be taken in moderation. Going to all the big MICE shows every year seems to be a mix of piggy and pointless.

Next week, I will blog about buyers from big companies vs. buyers from small companies, from my desk in London. I do take my own advice and I will not be at IBTM World this year. Next show for me is CONFEX which is a tube ride away using my Oyster Card and enjoying the luxury of sleeping in my own bed.

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