How to become a trade fair hotel

Lunch boxes, shuttle services, flexible checkout: how your property can woo trade fair visitors

Text: Laura Myers // FOTOS: iStock

TTrade fairs are big business! Just think of bauma, one of the world’s largest trade fairs that brings a whopping 600,000 attendees to Munich every three years. Mobile World Congress attracts 109,000 to Barcelona and ITB brings160,000 attendees to Berlin. Trade shows have a colossal impact on a city, its hotels, restaurants, suppliers and service providers. How big? The answer can be found in Chicago, where is home to the largest US convention venue, McCormick Place. Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Vice President of Convention Sales, Julie Mullins says: “In 2018 we had 1.6 million consumed convention hotel room nights, they contribute to the 400,000 jobs in our city.  Every hotel counts and is influenced by our convention business.”

How can you rake in the revenue from trade show guests? HRS provides member hotels with worldwide exposure and connection to business travelers. This is how you can position your hotel to be more attractive to these potential attendees. HRS can advise you on offering a competitive rate for this lucrative market. Keep in mind that price and location are the key to securing a trade fair guest. Also, your response within two days to RFPs is essential to having a competitive edge. By inviting your local CVB for a site inspection, you can use that relationship to consult on upcoming events and how best to cater to specific trade show attendees.

Location, location, location

On your website and in the HRS hotel description, emphasize your property´s proximity to the trade fair venue, noting distances, travel time, directions and modes of transportation. If your hotel is not close to public transportation, consider arranging alternate transportation options. Your guests will appreciate taxis, shuttles or even contracted vans.  

Flexibility is key

Naturally, you want reliability and 100 percent occupancy during trade fairs, but also consider the companies and their attending employees. Katharina Agüera, Global Head of PR at Siemens is a frequent trade show attendee. She states: "There are constant changes when it comes to who attends a trade show and on which days. A hotel's flexibility in changing rooms and a favorable no-show policy are extremely important.” Offering flexible check-in and check-out, is a real satisfier; a noon or later check-out are invaluable to your corporate guests trying to fit it all in. Also, don’t hesitate to turn a large room or suite into an ad hoc meeting room for the day. Having housekeeping on-call to clean rooms quickly can efficiently maximize occupancy and guest satisfaction.

High speed connections mean business

High speed, free Wi Fi throughout the hotel is the standard at most business traveler properties. Convenient charging outlets in the sleeping room and throughout the lobby are an expectation. Available charging plugs to borrow and a business center can be an added relief to the weary road warrior.

Hunger Pangs

Trade fair attendees appreciate an early breakfast buffet with self-serve coffee, espresso and tea. Consider providing items that your guests can grab ‘n go such as smoothies, yogurt drinks, juices, fruits and hearty breads. Offer a to-go bag or box for those on a tight schedule. Ms. Agüera of Siemens notes, “Personally, I like it when hotels provide me with the option of a boxed lunch that helps me avoid exorbitant food prices and waiting in line at the venue." Providing a short buffet line with a choice of lunch items or pre-made box lunches allow guests to create their own meals-to-go.

Late returning trade show guests will appreciate 24-hour snacks and beverages in the lobby to curb their hunger. The in-room minibar can also include a variety of healthy options such as juices, smoothies, muffins, and savory snacks like olives, nuts, hummus, and crackers.

Julie Mullins encourages hoteliers to “work with your CVB at time of inquiry.” In addition, she recommends working closely with the hotel housing portal to effectively market your property. With HRS you can get in the game and position your property to maximize revenue with the lucrative business of trade fairs. Go the extra mile in special services for your trade fair attendees. They will remember you and look forward to another stress-free stay at your property.

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