Participation overseas takes a beating

A weak ringgit, uncertain ROI are making the trade more wary of attending trade shows abroad.

Trade players in Malaysia are taking a more prudent approach to participation in overseas trade shows, weighed down by the ailing ringgit that has lost about 39 per cent against the US currency since 2014.

M Manimaran, senior director of sales & marketing of Saujana Hotels & Resorts in Shah Alam, said: “In 2014 and 2015, we exhibited at 10 travel trade shows. This year, we cut costs and chose to exhibit at six shows in Asia. Where possible, we will join Tourism Malaysia’s pavilion as that helps to reduce our costs.”

While Berjaya Hotels & Resorts group director, business development & marketing, Irene Chew, sees branding and marketing value in trade shows, the ROI is less apparent and as such, the group has reduced its participation to alternate years.

Chew added: “Prior to 2015, we used to have representatives from most of our properties. Now, we have reduced the sales personnel. Those who attend will represent all our properties in Asia. With the advancement of technology, we now place more emphasis on digital marketing.”

For Anthony Wong, group managing director, Asian Overland Services Tourism & Hospitality Group, one way the company cuts cost at trade shows is by sharing a booth with another Malaysian exhibitor.

Wong added: “Times are hard and there is a slowdown in some major markets, but we believe marketing must never slow down during hard times.”

In such lean times, Tourism Malaysia tries to lend a hand to the trade by allowing inbound players to use its creatives free-of-charge to reduce their cost of promotions.

Tourism Malaysia’s senior director, international promotion division, Asia/Africa, Musa Yusof, said: “We give them the soft copy and they can further customise it by adding their travel agency name and package price. We also allow the local trade to use our commercials and tailor them for different markets.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents’ (MATTA) vice president for inbound and domestic, KL Tan, is keeping an eye on the budget for member agents participating in its roadshows in India and China this year, an initiative the association rolled out last year. MATTA will also organise roadshows to the South Asian cities of Dhaka, Kathmandu and Colombo in July.

Said Tan: “The roadshows are organised in a cost-effective manner. We travel on budget carriers where possible and the meetings take place in a budget hotel. MATTA also subsidises part of the cost.”

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