By Shebby Lee
As a tour operator, how can you get the most out of your appointments at ABA’s Annual Meeting & Marketplace in Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 26–30? Having represented both sellers and buyers, the best advice I can proffer is to put yourself in the shoes of the person sitting across the table. It is, after all, a two-way street!
ABA Marketplace is a great opportunity for tour planners and suppliers to meet and, hopefully, do business, but both partners must do their part to make a connection.
Because there are many moving parts to the Marketplace experience, here are a few things both sellers and buyers can do to prepare for Marketplace appointments:
Sellers: With all the resources available to you through your ABA membership, there is no reason to treat your appointment as a “cold call.” Learn as much as you can about the tour operator and his or her tour offerings. Armed with this information, you will be able to offer suggestions on ways to create a better tour experience. This approach will get you a lot further than asking when (or worse yet, if) they have tours coming to your area.
Buyers: You have it in your power to improve your own chance of success at Marketplace. If you are a tour operator who has not filled out your online company profile in detail, shame on you! Suppliers finding only a blank page for a prospective client will result in a wasted appointment for both of you.
For both buyers and sellers: The financial investment in a major conference such as ABA Marketplace is not insignificant. But this is still the best opportunity for dozens of one-on-one meetings between prospective clients and suppliers both on and off the Marketplace floor. In between appointments, make sure you:
- Network—schmooze with old friends on the Marketplace floor, but also take advantage of the opportunity to make new ones.
- Use social events as an opportunity to expand your reach beyond scheduled appointments.
- Attend the educational seminars.
And after the conference, be sure to follow through with your appointments upon your return.
Historian and writer Shebby Lee owns Shebby Lee Tours Inc. of Rapid City, S.D. Her tours focus on the history and cultural heritage of the West. To contact Lee, visit www.shebbyleetours.com.