These days meeting professionals seem to have more to do and less time to do it in.  That’s why the organizers of Destination Direct knew they had to come up with a better way to maximize effectiveness for both buyers and sellers.  So they chose to combine the hosted buyer program format with a reverse trade show.

Hosted Buyers apply to attend Destination Direct, which takes place January 31 and February 1, just before the popular CSAE Tête-à-Tête Show at Ottawa’s Shaw Centre on February 2.

Buyers pre-select which Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) they wish to meet with, and DMOs may do the same.  Appointments are set through a needs-and-attributes matching process, with the added bonus of a professional matchmaker being involved in the process.  Because they are privy to the latest openings and developments in each of the represented cities, Destination Direct organizers may suggest additional appointments, which the planner may not have thought of!

The reverse tradeshow component does away with the traditional large show format in favour of having DMOs set up shop on two floors of an all-suite hotel.  This allows for individual creativity, with reps going out of their way to theme their suite to reflect their city’s personality.  It’s also more economical for sellers; no need for expensive trade show booths or heavy displays; a few banners or posters, colourful tablecloths, flowers and locally-catered goodies are all that’s needed.

Armed with their individual schedule (which of course includes suite numbers), Buyers go from appointment to appointment for 15 minute appointments.  Chimes ring on each floor to impart when time is up.  Time is allotted between appointments so Buyers can proceed to their next commitment.

One of the great things about this format is that, by giving focused time with a supplier, the Buyer is made more aware of the organization’s offerings. As many studies have revealed, consumers often have a totally different perception of what a company’s products are than do their salespeople.

More than a few participants at the inaugural installment of Destination Direct in 2016 were heard pondering how such a format could be applied to their own events.

Curious about the format?  If you are a Canadian meeting and event planner with an association, association management firm, corporation or a full-service meeting planning company, and you can consider two or more Canadian provinces in your destination selection process, apply here.