Last week Barefoot packed up and headed to Phoenix Arizona for the National Vacation Rental Managers Association Annual Conference. Being relatively new to the Barefoot team and the industry, this was my first national conference. Needless to say, there were some things that I learned and hopefully you can learn from them as well. Some of them are specific to the VRMA conference, others can be applied to any conference or business trip so be sure to take it all in.
1) Know the Schedule- Read the pre-show e-mails and flyers you recieve as they will help you navigate the show much better.
2) Go With a Purpose- I learned this one from my boss and hopefully he is not reading this because he was right. This last show I went to try to understand my target market better and had selected classes to attend, and people to meet. For one day I had classes in 2 of the 4 blocks and in my free time, I felt useless. Plan and know what your goal is, if you are going with a group of people, strategize together on what you each want to accomplish.
3) Pack Accordingly- Phoenix in October is a much different climate than New Hampshire in October.
4) Socialize- I was incredibly nervous at my first conference, as images of your typical business man or woman rolled through my head. Stiff people out to make money in the most efficient way possible was all I pictured. I have found this industry to be quite different than expected. Many laid back, easy going, business savy people who are interested in talking with you.
5) Talk- This one is a bit tricker and hard to grasp if you are an introvert but it stands to reap the largest benefit. People are at conventions to mingle and bounce ideas off one another. Going to a conference ready to be quiet and not engage in conversations either related to the industry or not will not pay off.
6) Remember People- I have an awful memory and remembering names, faces, people, places, or anything else has always been a struggle for me. However, letting small things slide can sometimes make the difference to a client or prospect. Take notes after the conversation and put them into your computer at night to help remember those tricky details.
7) Refine Your Sales Pitch- Have you ever seen something interesting in a store and just been interested in learning a little about it, only to end up having someone try to sell you for twenty minutes? This same scenario can unfold at any time if you are not careful, learn fast if people are looking for a chat or a sale and adjust yourself accordingly.
8) Use Social Media- This should go without saying in todays business world but sadly, it still needs to be said. You never know what can happen, it so happens that I reconnedted with an old friend who had moved to the area of my conference. Connections are important and use any medium put there to encourage them.
9) Eat, Drink, and Be Merry- This one touches on two fronts, the first being health oriented. Standing, walking and talking all day may be an easy enough physical activity, but it does not help while skipping meals and downing coffee. Keep yourself hydrated and eat properly. On the second front, don't be afraid to let loose and enjoy a drink with a new contact. Keep in mind that no one likes a sloppy drunk though.
10) Take In All To Be Offered- At these destination conferences, there is so much information to be had that we sometime overlook the details. I had never been to the desert and almost missed the beauty of it. Missing something as obvious as a desert made me aware of the other things I could be missing and stands as a reminder. Enjoy yourself, make connections, learn, and grow yourself.
I hope this helps as you gear up for your next conference. Again, I am no conference veteran with an air miles card, just a humbled employee who is fortunate enough to travel the country and meet great people. Please comment if you have a great conference story that you would like to share.