Skip to main content

Show Pro

24 Feb 2023

Making the most of appointments

Appointments are at the heart of The Meetings Show. Not only do they enable exhibitors to share their latest news and product updates with potential buyers, but they also facilitate new connections and business opportunities.

In this month’s Show Pro, we look at why both exhibitors and buyers should invest time in making appointments ahead of the show, but also how to get the best out of those appointments during the event.

Gill Moulden, MD at Moulden Marketing, a representation and marketing consultancy working with CVBs, DMCs and venues across destinations including Switzerland, Denmark, Croatia and Iceland, and previous hosted buyers Kerry Katch, MD at Hatch Events, and Sarah Threlfall, MD at Brightspace Events, share their top tips.


Be prepared and get your meeting requests in early

Moulden Marketing takes a stand at The Meetings Show every year and invites its destination, DMC and venue partners to co-exhibit, all of whom have their own appointment diaries. “The window for making appointments goes quickly, so it’s all about being prepared. We work hard with appointment setting and making sure our co-exhibitors know that if they are not driving this, they won’t get the most out of the show. We check in with them to ensure they are ready for when the appointment system opens so they can start requesting meetings with buyers,” says Moulden.

“At the same time, we run a social media and email campaign, updating potential buyers with the latest information about which partners are exhibiting on our stand, who they can meet with, and why they should come and see us at the show.”

From a buyer perspective, Hatch warns that if you don’t have pre-booked appointments, it can be very easy to wander around aimlessly and not get the most out of the show. “It gives you guaranteed and valuable one-to-one time with suppliers rather than rushed conversations in passing.”

Hatch advocates the hosted buyer programme (subject to admission) as it allows you to get in early with booking appointments ahead of time. “It gives you the opportunity to go through the exhibitor list with your team prior to the show, so you can make appointments with the key people you want to see. Don’t leave it to the last minute and book your appointments as early as you can to make sure you get the meetings you want. The same goes for suppliers as well.”

Moulden Marketing is also a big supporter of the hosted buyer programme and brings a group of hosted buyers from Europe and the UK most years, which helps it to build strong relationships with key buyers and can help with securing appointments for its co-exhibitors.


Relevance is key

When it comes to requesting appointments, there is a delicate balance to be had between quality versus quantity. Moulden explains: “Our co-exhibitors who have flown in especially for the show will want to make sure they have a full diary of appointments, but it’s a balance as you also want to make sure the appointments you book are relevant. Our market knowledge and experience mean we tend to know who we appeal to, so we know the people to target.”

Relevance is key for Hatch, and there may be several reasons why she wants to meet with a particular supplier. “We are open to most different hotels and venues but depending where we are in the planning cycles for with client events, there may be particular people who are relevant to the current enquiries we are working on.

“We also want inspiration, so we always like to see the new kid on the block, and it’s good to throw a few wild cards in there and find out more about the international destinations we don’t know very well. We might get a request from a destination that we don’t traditionally place business in, but you never know when that might change. So, my advice is don’t dismiss requests based on previous business alone and make time to go and see something a bit different as it might end up being beneficial to your business and clients.”


Make your appointments count

Once appointment diaries are full, putting in the time to do some pre-show prep and find out more about who you are meeting will pay off and make those appointments more productive for exhibitors.

“I understand that they can’t know everything about me, but they can look at my website before we meet and understand the types of services that we offer our clients because it will make it a lot easier for them to make their pitch relevant,” says Brightspace Events’ Threlfall.

“I love connecting with people on a personal level – those are the appointments I tend to remember more. I don’t just want the standard presentation. So, if you are a venue, give me a flavour of your property and spend the rest of the time building a relationship with me.”

Hatch agrees, adding: “I don’t want to sit through a PowerPoint presentation, show me something that is memorable. I might have 10 appointments that day, so be creative and think about what is going to make you stand out from what everyone else is showing me. Spend a little time getting to know what types of clients I work with, and what industries they are in, so you can tailor your presentation to make it relevant.”

Understanding what and how the buyer buys, rather than focusing on what you are selling is the key to a good appointment according to Moulden. “Before you launch into what you are selling, you must first ask what the buyer buys, and then adjust your delivery according to the buyer’s needs. Even if you have worked with a particular client on multiple projects, what they are working on now might be different to what they were buying last year. The nature of business events means a lot of the enquiries we work on are large one-off ad-hoc projects, so it’s always good to ask clients what they are working on right now.”

It goes without saying that following up post-show with everyone you had an appointment with is vital, and we’ll delve into this in more detail in one of our future Show Pros. Don’t miss next month’s focus on making first impressions count.

View all Show Pro