It’s Show Time: Make Sure You Work Them

It’s that time of the year again—time to start racking up those frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty club points. It’s show time. If you think about it, if an industry executive were so inclined, he or she could literally attend an event, or even two, per week from now through July.

It all began earlier this month with the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference in Atlanta; followed by HI Connect and Asian American Hotel Owners Association Convention & Trade Show in Nashville; BDwest and Meet the Money in Los Angeles; HD Expo in Las Vegas; and the NYU Investment Conference in New York. I am sure that I missed a few. Plus, this doesn’t even include the brand conferences scheduled during this time frame.

I bet you’re waiting for me to say next that there are too many conferences and conventions. On the contrary, I feel that each of these events is important and that there is room for each one. They are the most economical and efficient way to network. Is it possible to attend them all? Of course not. 

I do, however, recommend that you go to one or two. As I tell anyone who’ll listen, the only way to be truly successful in this market is to create and maintain relationships with everyone involved in the decision-making process. The easiest way to accomplish this is to be out there pressing the flesh. It doesn’t matter what you sell, whether its franchises, management, architecture, design and purchasing services, or products.

The only downside to the healthy ADR the industry now enjoys is we, as business travelers, are subject to paying some pretty lofty room rates. That being said, attending these conferences and conventions is well worth the investment. Think about it: How many of your current relationships are a result of an introduction made at a conference cocktail party or networking event? How many of these relationships have resulted in business?

Allow me two more bits of advice. One, don’t be a wallflower, especially at the investment conferences. You need to work cocktail parties. There is no need to be intimidated by the C-level executives standing at the bar. More often than not, they will be willing to make small talk and exchange business cards. A few moments spent will go a long way.

Two, it’s also critical to budget your time efficiently. Do not go to these events hoping to run into people. Make sure you map out a game plan. Try to book appointments long before the event takes place. And, most important, travel safely.