Do travel marts – and the trade – still matter? NTOs weigh in
THE National Association of Travel Agents Singapore intends to take over the lead in giving the country a face at some major travel trade shows, following the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) decision to skip events such as WTM and ATM.
According to STB, as of January, only five shows were confirmed for 2012. It exhibited in at least eight shows last year.
STB’s executive director, exhibitions & conferences and conventions & meetings, Jeannie Lim, said while trade shows were important marketing platforms, criteria such as industry interest and audience profile were key considerations too.
However, inbound operators, worry that this may be symptomatic of the NTO’s gradual withdrawal of local trade support. Said Tour East Group’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, Judy Lum: “STB is now overtly consumer-centric to the detriment of the trade.”
TRADE show participation will continue to be a part of Tourism Malaysia’s marketing and promotion efforts, although the NTO is “becoming selective”.
Said its spokesperson: “We are certainly moving towards the direction of an industry which is driven by the private sector. Tourism Malaysia will then be able to focus more attention on exploring new markets.”
Acting director general Azizan Nordin outlined that plans for this year included participating in more consumer events to promote and ‘hard sell’ directly. However, Tourism Malaysia would also expand cooperation with the trade through joint tactical campaigns, highlighting both traditional and niche products, he said.
A strong anchor
SOME 90 per cent of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy’s marketing programmes involve the trade, calling its strategy ‘below the line’.
The ministry’s deputy minister, Sapta Nirwandar, said a limited marketing budget meant that “supporting the trade in participation at travel marts and sales missions” was key as such platforms were well-targeted.
“We need to involve the private sector as much as possible to help them meet their counterparts as many times as possible,” he explained.
The ministry fully pays for the exhibition space, spending between 30-40 per cent of its yearly budget on this. “A number of trade members can afford to have their own booths at travel marts, but there are many more who cannot,” said Sapta.
He added that separate table tops were organised at marts to offer in-depth business talks, while such B2B sessions were also held during consumer events within the country.
Trying out new methods
THE Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will continue to embark on traditional marketing strategies involving the trade, such as having a prominent pavilion at major shows, said Juthaporn Rerngsonasa, TAT’s deputy governor of international marketing-Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas. It will also organise road shows.
“We will kickstart our mart-within-a-mart at ITB Berlin, where niche market specialists will be hosted to participate in a special table top session. Sellers wanting to join will be charged an extra fee besides the normal participation cost,” she added.
The niche market is seen as resilient in the face of an anticipated slowdown in longhaul markets, Juthaporn explained.
THE Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is sticking to the number of trade shows it is participating in for 2012/2013 (a dozen), although it is penetrating new markets such as the Netherlands (Vakantiebeurs), India (SATTE), Russia (MITT) and the Middle East (ATM).
Executive director, Anthony Lau, said the NTO had “always been participating actively at overseas trade shows” due to the networking and business opportunities offered.
He added that HKTB would co-organise more spin-off events, including on-stand activities with destination partners such as Macau and Hainan. It hopes to facilitate more multi-destination programmes and joint product creation.
Additional reporting from N. Nithiyananthan, Mimi Hudoyo, Prudence Lui