How this Case Study may be relevant to you: As a result of COVID-19, cancellations of many traditional travel trade events took place around the world. We helped Africa's Eden create a brand-new virtual event targeting the global travel trade market, in order to foster relationships among destination partners and plan for travel recovery, post-pandemic. 

We created a three-day event that hosted over 70 destination exhibitors and over 60 global travel trade buyers, in series of one-on-one appointments, educational sessions, entertainment and virtual networking opportunities. 

Victoria Falls, aerial view Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association
Victoria Falls, aerial view Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association

Situational Analysis

The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association (TVFRTA) was established in January 2020 to promote the World Wonder, Victoria Falls, and the Kaza wildlife estate that surrounds it. This Association is noteworthy as the first multi-country destination marketing campaign entirely driven by the private sector in the region. The Association is founded on collaborative competition, in a geography considered one of the world’s largest and last remaining pristine conservation estates.

By the end of February it became evident that the COVID-19 crisis had brought more urgent challenges that threaten the survival of not only the membership to the Association but the entire travel and tourism ecosystem of the Kaza region. The threat of collapse and shut down of the sector would not only devastate business but also communities that indirectly benefit from the tourism industry.

The Challenge

How to facilitate the travel trade community when most travel shows and exhibitions have been canceled due to COVID-19.

Tour drivers Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association
Tour drivers Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association

Objectives

  • Provide a virtual meeting space for travel trade and Kaza region representatives.
  • Educate the travel trade on the Kaza region, also known as "Africa's Eden."
  • Create business opportunities for future travel bookings.
  • Foster relationships between destinations and tour operators for long-term tourism growth.
  • Build a successful show format that can be replicated in the future.

Strategic Insight

Facilitate a Virtual Travel Trade Event dedicated to the region.

 

Buyers and suppliers needed a way to connect and plan for bounce-back and recovery, post-pandemic. A virtual trade event is a smart solution to this market need. An event provides an opportunity for travel trade to meet one-on-one with Victoria Falls and Kaza region suppliers to foster business relationships now, and set the region up for a quicker recovery when borders reopen to the visiting public.

 

Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association

Strategic Approach

  • Use a pre-show vetting process to ensure the quality of event attendees, both buyers and destination exhibitors.
  • Position the virtual trade show as affordable and economical, with multiple attendees admitted per company.
  • Educate the global travel trade on the region through the Online Travel Training platform.
  • Present data and research about the travel trade industry and the future of the global marketplace to participants.
  • Give buyers the opportunity to learn about new travel products in the Kaza region and expand relationships with existing exhibitors.
  • Use the event as a pre-qualification for an in-destination experience.
Lion Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association
Lion Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association
Victoria Falls Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association
Victoria Falls Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association

Tactics

  • Creation of a brand-new Trade Show website, complete with pre-vetting questions for registration.
  • Development of website pages that support the Virtual Travel Trade Show, including a virtual buyer/exhibitor Exhibit Hall, speaker bios, appointment schedule and links to virtual meetings, and a host for videos from the event to live post-show.
  • Pre-vetted and sorted appointment schedule, matching buyers with exhibitors for one-on-one meetings.
  • Show promotion, including creation of a one-sheet to entice exhibitors and buyers to sign up for the event.
  • Email communications leading up to and during the show.
  • Script creation, show run through and pre-show tech rehearsals with all participants and event host.
  • Management of all technology tools and virtual event logistics prior to and during the show.
  • Development of educational opportunities, speakers and entertainment during the three-day event.
  • Facilitation of giveaways, contests and prizes throughout the show.

Results

Results

  • Over 70 individual exhibitors
  • Over 60 individual buyers
  • 34 appointment slots
  • 19 pre- and post-show emails
  • 15 speakers and presentations
  • 3 days of virtual success!

 

Victoria Falls Photo Credit: The Victoria Falls Regional Tourism Association

What Show Attendees Had to Say...

"Thanks so much for putting on this show! Overall, it was both enjoyable and informative, with the added benefit of being cost-effective since no travel was required."

Buyer | Texas, USA

"For a first show, I am blown away - the organizers were amazing - loved their positivity and enthusiasm. Other presentations also very interesting, valid, and entertaining, thank you. Not easy in these challenging times."

Exhibitor | Livingstone, Zambia

"Reconnecting with suppliers, sharing info and "hope" for re-opening... [It] was so nice to meet new people, see old friends and really feel the bonds that tie us together - this love for Africa. We have such a nice industry, all sides need to keep lines of communication open, and this helped a lot! Just to be able to share experiences across 'both aisles.'"

Buyer | Connecticut, USA

"Catching up with old friends in the industry and making new ones. I would really like to thank you guys for making the effort to put this show together at short notice.  It was a tremendous effort and at no cost to us, which was much appreciated." Exhibitor | Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

A look at the event website: