Dear DMOs: If you MUST do a roadshow, here is the way to do it

Natasha Martin | May 8, 2018

Dear DMOs,

From Uganda to Uruguay, we’ve noticed a dogged commitment of tourism boards to leading roadshows (otherwise known as sales missions) around the world.

Roadshows involve sending a delegation of tour operators and other suppliers from a destination to key source market and hosting events in three or four cities to showcase the destination, introduce the companies and products and theoretically develop relationships that will lead to business deals.

To many, roadshows are a great idea. Public sector supports the private sector! One easy event! So many new relationships! But in reality, roadshows are never easy and the way that most destinations organize and implement them, means they very rarely generate a good return.

Given the budget to run a roadshow, we might recommend other marketing investments (A FAM trip, for one). But if you MUST do a roadshow, here are some tips:

1. Identify cities with high concentrations of relevant trade. For example, in the Asian adventure segment, consider Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore and Beijing. For North America active segment, consider Boulder, San Francisco, Seattle and Toronto.

2. Dedicate time to researching agents or operators who will sell the type of product in your destination. Create a list of five to ten for each destination.

3. Choose an intimate space that has a relevant story to tell –a local brewery, an art studio, a museum. If your event is in a capital city, embassies are often happy to supply space for destination promotion.

The Bisha Hotel in Toronto is one of our favorite places to host events.

4. Curate a small-scale intimate event for small numbers (five to ten) of quality operators from your target list. Include an outstanding meal, a short impactful presentation and an interactive component (a quiz or other game).

The table setting at a recent Azores event organized by Bannikin.

4. Make an investment and create great swag that people will actually use. About 8 years ago, I got a Helly Hanson toiletry bag at a Norway event that I use to this day. It is a fact: people will use USBs and throw away brochures.

1. Turnout: An RSVP for a sit-down lunch for ten is a commitment people will show up to.

2. Lasting relationships: an intimate setting allows for deeper connections that lead to lasting relationships.

3. Staying Top of Mind: A memorable event with great company, good food and possibly a thoughtful memento will stay in peoples’ minds far longer than a regular cocktail hour.

Bannikin excels at curating unforgettable events for our clients that result in real business, both in North America and Asia. If you’re planning on leading a roadshow in the near future, drop us a line, and we’ll build a Roadshow 2.0 Plan for you.


Natasha Martin