Surviving ITB Berlin 2013: Lessons from WTM London 2012
With only a few more days until ITB Berlin 2013 kicks off, I’m sure many of my fellow bloggers are feeling a similar mixture of trepidation and excitement about attending the worlds largest travel trade show. Having read lots of great advice from bloggers with experience and industry professionals that work with bloggers, time will tell if I’m adequately prepared for this huge event.
Reports say there is a steadily growing awareness of the benefits of working with bloggers within the tourism industry, which is reassuring, and there’s plenty of evidence in the travel blogging world of successful partnerships being formed between pro-active parties.
I’ve been thinking back to how things went at WTM London a few months ago, and wondering if any of the lessons from there will apply to ITB Berlin. But truth be told, I’m not just going to Berlin to pitch to people I don’t know. I’m also going to reconnect with the people I’ve already met. And that is my first thought;
There’s almost no limit to the number of new contacts you can make at conferences and trade shows, but there is a limit to the number of relationships you can maintain beyond the level of a brief acquaintance. The better your relationship with someone, the more likely they are to think of getting in touch with you, and the more likely they will want to work with you when you get in touch with them. The old Less Is More logic. They could be a PR person, a tour operator, an editor, or maybe another blogger. Whoever you meet, if you find yourself getting along particularly well with them, then that is a relationship worth spending more time on, during and after ITB.
So who should you target your pitches at? My initial instincts at WTM were to avoid destination marketing organisations and PR companies that already worked with bloggers, in favour of operators who aren’t as visible online. It makes sense that they could benefit more from new media exposure. However in many cases, their lack of online presence is down to a low awareness of how new media can be used. Unless you want to spend a lot of time trying to educate someone who doesn’t yet have a budget for this kind of marketing, learn when to quickly and politely cut your losses. If you are ultra-confident and fancy a challenge, I suggest you try approaching central Africa. I’d love to work with organisations there, but came up against a lot of stony disinterested faces.
It will be easier to pitch to organisations that use social media themselves, shows signs of wanting to work with new media, or have already worked with other bloggers. A tourist board that supports your project can make a huge difference, and any campaign that has backing from the people whose job it is to promote it will have more impact, which is better all round.
I don’t want to point out things that have already been well covered, so check out the ITB articles that I linked to above for more. But this last point is key in my opinion.
It’s easy to get stressed by an event as big as ITB Berlin 2013. There is lots happening, thick crowds of people, and pressure to sell yourself. Once you’ve arrived at the event, then you’ve done all you can do to prepare, so be fair to yourself by leaving a good impression on the people you talk to. Don’t be an automaton. Relax, and enjoy it. A bit of nervous energy will help keep you sharp, but the best idea in the world won’t save your pitch if you are a sweaty tongue-tied juddering mess. Have faith in your abilities, have confidence in what you offer… aaand relaaax. It’s fortunate we have a huge event like this to pitch at – we’re tiny switched-on rebels in the world of business and marketing with a recognisable value, influencing real people on the internet with our honest informed opinions. The subtle differences in your body language from knowing and believing your worth will make any conversation go more smoothly.
Maybe if you get to bed earlier than sun-up each night, that will help too.
Here endeth the sermon, and I’ll finish with more fun pictures of people who really knew how to relax and enjoy WTM, despite all the hard work. The sun-up rule was mostly ignored, but in that case, just add adrenaline. See you in Berlin!