How to get the most out of a business travel convention

We asked some BCD Travel convention veterans how to make the most of a show experience. Their advice: make a plan, step outside your comfort zone, enjoy the festivities (but not too much) and rest.

Before you go

Getting ready for a convention requires more than packing a suitcase, hugging your pet and setting an out of office reminder. Ahead of the show, outline your goals and objectives for the event. Do you want to learn something new, network or get help with technology, like an online booking tool? Once you set your intentions, check the conference agenda for relevant panels and education sessions and plan your time.

Pre-book appointments with the people you want to meet. That way, you can be certain you have the time you need with them. If you want to reconnect with peers/colleagues or introduce yourself to new ones, send a short note asking for face time at the show. If you don’t have their email address, contact them via direct messaging/in-mail. If you choose this option, make sure your profile is updated and appropriate for business communications – no controversial images or posts.

Get creative with your meeting invitations. Suggest a brief walk outdoors during a coffee break. You can stretch your legs and communicate away from the buzz of the show.

From our Pro

Jorge Cruz, Executive Vice President, Global Sales & Marketing, BCD Travel

“Before every show, I start with a list of people that I want to either spend more time with or get to know. When I’m speaking to people, I make it a habit to always stay present in the conversation. It’s so easy to look past the person you’re talking to and spot five other people you want to meet. Those few minutes of undivided attention can be invaluable.”

Show time

Approach the convention like a marathon, not a sprint. Figure out the right cadence of sessions and networking to help meet the goals you set. Jot down session notes and event highlights for review later.

Follow the event on Twitter. Search the official convention hash tag to find out who else is talking about the show and what happenings you may have overlooked. Ever wondered what it’s like to be an influencer? This is your chance.

Post about your experience on social media. Need some inspiration? Share these:

  • Quotes, insights and key takeaways from sessions
  • Photos from ceremonies or networking events
  • Anything that inspires or entertains you at the event

From our Pro

Rossana Martin, Senior Vice President, Global Sales – NA

“It’s all about listening. I carefully research sessions and plan what to attend because I want to make sure I’m hearing what’s top of mind for buyers and suppliers. I schedule every minute of my time and work closely with team to make sure we divide and conquer.”

Conference Don’ts

  • Don’t overcommit. There are a ton of extracurricular parties, which could potentially make the conference a multi-day, sunup to sundown event. You can’t be everywhere with everyone. Why even try?
  • Don’t neglect your wellbeing. Eat well and hydrate properly. Rest each day.
  • Don’t be the life of the party. Seriously, just don’t. Enjoy the after-hours festivities but avoid doing anything you’ll regret later.
  • Don’t spend too much time with your own people. We tend to gravitate to familiar faces. Stretch yourself and build your network by seeking out peers and colleagues you don’t know but should.

From our Pro

Thad Slaton, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications, BCD Travel

“Like any race, avoid coming out of the gate too fast. The meetings, the tradeshow, the educational sessions, the evening events—all these activities can demand a lot of walking. Add in a lot of standing in a booth and sitting in convention center-grade chairs, and the event can be physically taxing. Take care to plan out your schedule carefully to maximize your time—and save your body.”

After the show

After the show, send a follow-up email to the people with whom you want to remain in contact. Need a conversation starter? Thank them for the time you spent together at the show; ask clarifying questions about a panel or topic; share a link to information on a common interest; or ask about the next show they plan to attend. Send requests to follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter, if appropriate.

How-to guides

Get more done with our How-to series for people who work and manage travel.

Questions? Email: [email protected]

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