Regular readers of this blog know that we take some time each year to attend various hospitality trade shows around the country. We’ve been attending trade shows as a buyer and as a vendor (with booth displays) since our business first began. After many years, we narrowed down our focus to the ones we believe offer the most benefit for our business:
- In January, we headed to Long Beach, California, where the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals met aboard the Queen Mary.
- A few months before that, it was Arizona, for the Vacation Rental Managers Association’s annual conference at a picturesque desert resort.
- The year before that, it was New Orleans, for the PAII Innkeeping Conference and Trade Show.
And yes, we’re fortunate to get the opportunity to spend time in other parts of the country. But there’s real value in attending these shows.
As hospitality expert Larry Mogelonsky put it in Hotels magazine earlier this year:
“Hotel tradeshows and conventions are an excellent opportunity to keep pace with all the latest products, news and concepts in our ever-evolving industry. There are many such events happening on a year-round timetable and all around the world, so much so that you could hypothetically spend every week in another city and at another hospitality conference or symposium.”
But no one has that kind of time, which means people in our industry need to ask themselves what shows they should attend, and which members of their team should attend them.
In answering the second part of that question, Mogelonsky didn’t mince words: “The people who should go to these events are the ones who sign the checks – owners, asset managers, general managers, managing directors, resort managers, operations directors, directors of sales and marketing, and any other senior executive.”
What about niche conferences?
When it comes to hospitality trade shows that deal with a more specific topic, it might seem like the right idea to send people from other positions.
But Mogelosky argues that management should still attend these types of shows. He uses HITEC, the world’s biggest hospitality technology show, as an example.
At first glance, it would seem like the show you’d send your IT manager to so they can talk shop with people in their field and come home with some innovative ideas to improve your guest’s experience.
“However, technology is so embedded in our guests’ daily lives these days,” he writes, “that it is no longer a case of what’s easiest to apply and far more about what will most effectively improve the guest experience, whether it be a boost to your online interface, onsite features or customer preference tracking (otherwise known as customer relationship management or CRM).”
These days, every senior manager needs to know how they can use technology to create a better experience for their guests and therefore boost revenues.
Hospitality trade shows are an excellent place for managers to find vendors who can help reach this goal, and a way to glean information you can bring back to your team. Going to a conference, Mogelosky argues, is too crucial an experience to be left to mid-level team members who aren’t “thoroughly versed in how any expenditure will serve the big picture.”
At the same time, some hospitality trade shows are simply too big for one executive. Mogelosky points to HX: The Hotel Experience, which takes place each November in New York City.
There are so many exhibits that a show of this size requires you to attend with a group and divide up duties: One person scouts out new products, another person looks at recent technology, etc.
In the end, the question of whether you attend a trade show may depend on whether you can afford it. And if you can, Mogelosky argues, why not go? Learning ways to improve your business is a key part of your job, and there’s no better place to do that than among your peers.
And if hospitality trade shows aren’t in your budget, don’t worry. InnStyle is happy to share what we’ve learned over the years.
Contact us today. Our expert sales staff looks forward to passing along its knowledge.