THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Throughout the ages, fairs have been recognised as one of the powerful and efficient tools for doing business. Tourism and travel fairs have been drawing attention in the last two decades. Industry ensures its market share through various means of promotions.
Tourism and travel shows are important marketing links with the customers, which resulted owing to the dynamics of the business economy. The attendees go to the events with a strategic mission to expand their business by preparing to answer the queries of the customers. This is a face to face meeting point, which is cost effective to reach the market audience in one time and at one place. The problems faced by the service industry are the gap in service delivery. The difference between the customer expectation and perception is the major cause for the gap. Professionals use the philosophy of total quality management (TQM) to fill this gap. As there is no readymade strategy to TQM, they focus on customers, commitment of the organisation, continuous improvement, emphasis on services, employee participation and teamwork.
Every time, product promotion was the talk of the business world people. Tourism service providers realise the need to be identified in a unique manner. The global economic integration and free movement of people forced service-based organisations to adopt a universal strategy.
Tourism fairs and exhibitions are not just a marketing tool; they are entire market places at the fingertips. This is a source of market knowledge and corporate positioning body to fulfill the needs of the service entrepreneurs in a centralised site. Survey studies point out that those marketing techniques of promotion through fairs are much more effective than direct sales, public relations, internet, direct mail, trade publications and telemarketing.
Fairs provide opportunities for the service property owners to assess, learn and interact with the customers. Feedback from the clients is available immediately for a real-time insight into market expectations. Service entrepreneur can identify new agents, distributors and recruit new staff. They can also go for alliances and establish joint projects.
The final purchasing decision of service products from fairs shown by many survey is 90 per cent. The rest of the promotional methods are far behind this figure. These are known to have high return and expense ratio.
A survey of Exhibition Association of Australia showed that an average expenditure of 9 per cent of companies marketing budgets at the trade fair events results in a return of 23 per cent of business.
The author got an opportunity to attend the fair conducted by Fairfest Media Limited in Mumbai. Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) and Outbound Travel Mart (OTM) are the flagship events of Fairfest Media.
The Kerala tourism is a success story. I could see the group participation from Kerala tourism in an organised way at the Mumbai fair. The neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have much tourism potential than Kerala. But the aggressive marketing strategies helped kerala acquire the growth. Kerala could showcase its products in overseas fairs by way of roadshows. ‘Your Moment is Waiting,’ the destination film by Department of Tourism, wooed the global tourism market to make the state a ‘must visit’ destination for travellers. National and international tourist organisations, state government tourism departments, tour operators, travel agents, hotels, resorts, adventure tourism, airlines, car rental, railways, coach operators, cruise lines and guides are the exhibitors who participate in travel and tourism fairs.
The visitors include travel-trade members, corporate and business travel decision makers, leisure and holiday travellers and representatives from hospitality industry and travel planners. India International Travel Mart (IITM), Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF), Outbound Travel Mart (OTM), Holiday Expo (Travel and tourism exhibition), Times Travel Fair and The Great Indian Travel Bazaar are some of the agencies who conducts fairs across the country.
Exhibitors come up with annual shows in many cities. Medium-sized cities in India have emerged as the fastest growing markets or quality leisure products. They reach out to those markets to provide services to gain profit and potential.
The writer is a faculty of Kannur University MBA campus. The views expressed in the column are the author’s own.