Five Tips for Being Professional at Travel Industry Shows

by Larry Mersereau, CTC

Industry shows are great opportunities, both for learning and updating skills… and for you to grow your industry presence. Like it or not, you are in a showcase just like the products and services being promoted at the show. Whether you paid to attend the trade show, or you’re there as a guest, your individual brand is on display for all to see. You don’t know what your ‘individual brand’ is? I guarantee you, other people do.

Heck, you size other people up, don’t you? You walk into the room and quickly identify the movers-and-shakers, the leeches, the slackers and the up-and-comers. Well guess what: They’re sizing you up too! One quick scan… before you’ve even talked… and they’ve judged you six ways from Sunday.

Piece of advice number one is that you are a brand. If you haven’t given that any thought before, your brand has been formed by happenstance. The most successful brands are planned. You should decide just what you want your image to be. It has to be genuine, but it has to be consistent. Don’t show up in a business suit at one trade show, and in blue jeans at the next. Don’t put on a professional ‘act’ at one show, and behave like a clown at the next. Don’t be Ms. Wonderful in person and a snake on social media. (Yes, people you meet will look you up online later!)

Give them a clear, consistent image of who you are and what you stand for. 

Piece of advice number two is that you’re always on stage. People are constantly observing you. Don’t get nervous, just accept it! They see how you dress, how you carry yourself, how you treat other people. The people you live with, the people you work with, customers, supplier reps, people on the street, people on the bus, the airplane…

You might think that you’re never going to see these people again, but you never know. Talk to your supplier reps. You’ll find that many of them started on the agency side. When they applied for the jobs they hold now, their personal brand was put on the line. Talk to the leaders in the industry. You’ll find they didn’t get there because they make great drinking buddies.

Piece of advice number three would be to meet as many people as you can. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone. Just meet people. Does that idea make you nervous? Networking skills are still important, even in this age of social media. Meeting people face-to-face is an opportunity to make a connection at a totally different level from ‘friending’ them on Facebook.

Piece of advice number four is one specific networking tactic: Look for ways to do something for every new contact. Friendliness is worth a lot. What’s worth even more is generosity. Always be thinking, ‘How can I help this person with their career, business or life in general?’ Can you introduce them to someone else in the room (that you know because you’ve been so friendly) who can help with a project or challenge they’re working one? Walk them over and introduce them. Do you have expertise or resources you can share? Be a giver. It will always come back to you.

Piece of advice number five is to follow up after the event. You should have asked for business cards from people you want to get to know better… and from people you might be able to help with something. If you said you can help, make sure you contact them immediately after the event with the information or contact you promised. Email, call, message… better yet, mail a hand-written note. A simple ‘Great meeting you at ___’ is enough to tell people you remembered them and that they’re important to you.

Some will respond and keep in touch. Some won’t. You can’t control their response. You can only control how your personal brand acts.

Trade shows are opportunities to expand your personal brand identity in the industry. You will expand your brand presence whether you plan to or not, so I recommend that you do a little planning. Be consistent, remember and follow up and you’ll be remembered. You never know how that’s going to come back to you, but I promise it will!

Smart business owners, marketers and sales professionals (people just like you!) turn to Larry Mersereau, CTC, for the ideas and insights they need to bring in more business and take home more money. More at