Five Tips to Help Promote your Events Business to Overseas Markets

AUSTRALIA is by far one of the world’s best destinations to host events. We have a plethora of great cities to choose from, exciting natural wonders to explore and on top of all that, Australians offer world-class, dinky-di, amazing hospitality. 
When overseas clients choose Australia as their next events’ destination the attendees get very excited. 
Time and again research shows that delegates attending events in Australia report the highest level of satisfaction in the overall event experience. That’s a huge win for the host event organisers and a huge pat on the back for the Australian event businesses that excel on being the best hosts in the world.

And, with the inbound event industry worth billions of dollars and growing, it’s a market that warrants some attention. 
But how does your business get a slice of that whooping big pie?  
To find out, we caught up with Talk2 Media & Events, the new team behind the Asia Pacific Incentives Meetings Event (AIME) – the leading trade event for the meetings and events industry in the Asia Pacific region. Dedicated to bringing the Asia-Pacific region together in one place, they understand how difficult it can be to attract the right overseas buyers to visit Australia. 
We had a good chat about their own key strategies for attracting the right buyers to their event and how you can showcase your own business to this market to secure events for 2019 and beyond. 
Here are Five Tips to help promote your events business to overseas markets…

1. Create your offer 

So, you want some of the pie, but what do you have to offer in return? If you don’t have a product or service that caters to the oversea market, then get to work. 
Think hard about your current products – do they naturally attract overseas event organisers e.g. iconic Australian landmarks, menus featuring Australian produce, unique Australian experiences? Even if you’re business isn’t gifted with Sydney Harbour views or cuddly koalas, think about how you can design an experience that will attract foreign visitors.
For the team at Talk2 Media & Events this was all about creating an industry event that would attract the right type of buyers (locally and from overseas) and then create the best environment for them to engage with the destinations and services on exhibit.
A key initiative includes kicking off the three-day event with a full day Knowledge Program designed to give everyone participating more value. With Major Knowledge Program Sponsor, Melbourne Convention Bureau, there will be immersive sessions and breakouts designed to develop personal and professional skills. For the first time, the Knowledge Program will be opened to all AIME attendees, enhancing information exchange and creating more opportunity to build new relationships through shared professional and personal experiences. 
This will help to create a setting for heightened connectivity when all exhibitors and buyers come together on the show floor and engage in meetings that are matched between the buyers’ needs and exhibitors’ destinations and services. 
For your business, we suggest you do some research, get creative and tailor an offer that you know overseas markets will be keen to experience. For example, if you’re a catering company you might design menus that feature fresh, local Australian produce, while still appealing to the particular tastes of specific nationalities you’re targeting. Present the menu along with a list of spectacular marquee locations in town or unique venues that you can work in. Package it together with some entertainment ideas to present an experience the buyers can’t say no to. If you do the work up front, it will pay off. 

2. Find your potential buyers

Finding your ideal customers can be tricky. Sure, LinkedIn can help you narrow down the search of who is registered as an event buyer from foreign markets, but how can you quickly assess if they have event leads suitable for your business. It would take days, weeks, months to research potential customers via online resources – who they are, what event business might they have and whether that business is even suitable for your product? This is a time hungry task with outcomes that can be difficult to measure and get a return on investment from.  
Here is where attending AIME 2019 as an exhibitor is worth it’s weight in gold. All the research, all the time, all that qualifying and enticing buyers to be interested is being done by the AIME team for you. 
With 40% increase on buyer numbers from previous years, AIME is welcoming experienced buyers from across Australasia and are also targeting 35% of buyers from the Asia Pacific region with a further 25% from across Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. That’s a combined 60% of buyers from overseas! Just over half of these Hosted Buyers have never attended AIME before, which represents new ponds to fish in.
The best thing is, the AIME team has implemented a clever appointment matching service (provided by Centium) to ensure that as an events business you are going to get to meet and pitch to the buyers best suited to what you have to offer…. And that’s where step 3 comes into play.

3. Tailor your pitch

The term “Overseas event buyers” refers to a whole lot of people, all with very different needs. Does your product appeal to everyone? 
If you’re producing an “Australian” experience then it’s safe to say it will probably be appealing to a large percentage of overseas buyers. However, taking the time to (again) research and tailor your pitch to specific nationality preferences may put your business ahead of the others. 
Buyers from China typically like to be direct and have the money talk up front – no beating around the bush. While buyers from Germany are open to discussions but want details… detail, details and more details. 
Knowing more about what the visitors like is also very important. For example, visitors from the US like to mix business with pleasure and enjoy a party-like social program, while Japanese visitors love a photo op with iconic Australian backdrops (or cuddly koalas) – lots and lots of photo ops.  
Because Exhibitors at AIME are able to see appointment diaries in late January, there are a few weeks to contact the buyers you are meeting with, and this can give you the upper hand to prepare costs or proposals to go through when you meet in person. This really kicks the whole process along and makes the potential outcome of the meeting so much more valuable.
Understanding more about your buyers and their guests’ preferences before you create your pitch will help you tailor a proposal or presentation that will get the international buyers warm and cosy early – like a joey in a Kangaroo pouch they’ll let you take them along for the ride. 

4. Make it easy for the buyers to understand

Again, know your audience and do your research. 
Taking a few extra steps to help your potential clients understand your proposal could be the influencing factor in getting that conversion. 
Consider having your proposals translated into foreign languages or showing the costs with an estimated conversion to the buyers’ local currency alongside the rates in $AUD.
Outline some of the key questions you know foreigners ask (easier once you’ve had some experience doing this type of events) but a simple example is to offer an explanation to what GST is and how they might be able to claim this back following their event in Australia. 
The more you can do to make your proposals easy to understand the more likely you’ll get the business over your competitors.

5. Invite them to experience your product

Generally, in our industry we know that once we invite a client in for a site visit or a showcase event the rate of conversion increases ten-fold. By experiencing your product or services first hand buyers are much more likely to convert. But how do you do this with the buyers based overseas?
Here are a few quick ideas:
  • Create a short video presentation that showcases everything you have to offer, along with some client testimonials and a personal intro from yourself that you can send to clients online.
  • Better still, create a VR presentation where buyers can have a virtual experience of your product without leaving their office! You could even post them a VR Google Cardboard with a welcome note.
  • Meet them in person at AIME 2019 and create a personal connection first. Combine one of the two suggestions above, along with a friendly handshake, and some Australia memorabilia or goodies that relate to your business.

Final note…

As one of our favourite industry events to attend each year, we’re pretty excited to see what changes Talk2 Media & Events has prepared for AIME 2019. With their commitment to bring more quality international buyers, we expect the potential for exhibitors to attract business from overseas markets to be big in 2019. 
Want a piece of that pie? Get in touch with Charles Beyer or Deen Haniff for more information. 
Stay tuned we’ll be reporting from the main event which is being held in Melbourne at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on 18 - 20 February 2019

See you there!