The perfect host: hosted buyers

The concept of the hosted buyer is not a new one. For 20 years exhibition organisers have implemented their very own versions of the matchmaking process. But, have you ever wondered how a hosted buyer programme works?

Reed Travel Exhibitions’ (RTE) Hosted Buyer Programmes Manager June Clarke is a hosted buyer guru. What she doesn’t know about hosted buyers isn’t worth knowing. Clarke is responsible for managing the hosted buyer programmes for RTE’s range of meetings market shows including EIBTM in Spain, AIBTM in the US, CIBTM in China, GIBTM in the UAE and AIME in Australia.

Who can be a hosted buyer on the EIBTM hosted buyer programme?

The programme is made up of associations, corporates, destination management companies (DMC), event management companies, incentive houses/agencies, independent meeting planner, marketing services personnel, PCO’s, travel agencies and venue finding agencies with budgets of between $250,0000 and $10,000,0001+.

How many hosted buyers did you have at the 2010 show?

3,678, and the show was audited.

How do you attract hosted buyers?

We have a targeted campaign to bring in buyers through RTE, many of which are corporates, and then we have group co-ordinators, which make up the majority of our buyers. These co-ordinators such as hotel chains, magazines, DMCs and market representation companies put together groups of around 10 to 350 people drawn from their essential business contacts. We also have group co-ordinators in the UK who specialise in association buyers and focus on recruiting those for us.

How do you measure the quality of buyer?

Measuring the quality of a buyer is more of a picture than a defined barrier they have to get over. We measure them by seniority, purchasing power, how many events they organise and what sector they are interested in. An agency we would expect to have a number of events on its books varying in size; corporates tend to organise a smaller amount of events of medium-sized proportions and associations, we would expect, would organise one or two yearly events for significantly larger numbers of delegates (1,000-plus.)

How many hosted buyer applications are declined?

It is usually around nine per cent, and this alters year-on-year. North American buyers tend to have a high reject rate, as we are looking for very highly qualified outbound buyers and North American buyers tend to organise mostly local events, hence the need for AIBTM in Baltimore.

Which countries are well represented on the hosted buyer programme?

Germany, UK, Netherlands, France and Belgium do well, other countries that have grown over the last three years are Russia, Poland, Brazil and Spain.

How do you match buyers to exhibitors?

We operate a ratio of one exhibitor to one buyer as this provides a good range of opportunity for our exhibitors. Our repeat rate each year is around 50 per cent, to ensure that exhibitors get to see different people.

How does the appointment system work?

The system is hosted buyer led. So once a buyer is accepted onto the programme they can go onto the website and view exhibitors by country, by product or by type and select an interest in meeting them. It is important for exhibitors to sign up early before the appointments are scheduled.

Our computer system then uses algorithms to produce the end result and offer buyers their meeting schedule. Hosted buyer appointments are the cornerstone of the show, without these the show would fall over.

How long do hosted buyers typically spend at the show?

We operate a rotation system, as many people can’t justify a whole week out of the office. Between 75 and 80 per cent of our hosted buyers will be at the show for two days, those from further afield such as the Nordics and Russia for two nights. Our long haul buyers would spend three nights and three full days at the show.

Is there a minimum number of appointments hosted buyers must take part in?

They are required to attend seven appointments each day, a destination presentation and an education seminar.

Does RTE hold penalties for buyers that don’t attend scheduled appointments?

We have a no-show policy that means that buyers are financially penalised if they don’t show up, because we are running a business at the end of the day.

Who particularly is RTE targeting for the hosted buyer scheme for 2011?

I would urge that we are open to everyone and encourage UK buyers, even if they haven’t been accepted in the past, to apply to be part of the 2011 programme. 

Any comments? Email conferencenews@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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