How do YOU usually meet people at a trade show?
I bet you do what I USED To Do which was, wander the trade show floor, meander into a booth that seemed friendly, and maybe learn about a new product or service.
This is how I used to do trade shows until I discovered the TikTok Tour.
The TikTok Tour was actually inspired by my friend Shawn Walchef. I copied him.
In real talk, I stole his brilliant idea. Earlier this year, he attended a conference and wanted to meet every CEO at the event. He wandered the trade show floor and interviewed CEOs. He posted each interview on TikTok. I was so inspired by the interaction of each CEO and how much genuine fun they seemed to be having. One CEO, Zack Oates, even did a high kick. That was enough for me to be sold on doing my very own TikTok tour.
MPI WEC was just around the corner. I decided,
"I am going to do a Meeting Planner TikTok Tour".
I set clear goals for the week.
Meet new clients.
Engage with other planners like me.
Reunite with hotel and industry partners I've known for years.
Learn as much as I can about new destinations, renovations, and new ways of doing old things.
Instead of staring blankly at name badges hoping to snag conversations with people I wanted to talk with, I did a Meeting Planner TikTok Tour.
I wanted to interview people in our industry and post it on TikTok. I then wanted to repurpose the video from TikTok and share it on LinkedIn. I wanted to show our industry that TikTok can be used for business, and show the value of posting videos on LinkedIn. Both platforms are underutilized visual playgrounds and I wanted to illustrate the power of information sharing using both platforms.
I made a list of questions to ask each type of industry partner. There were separate questions for planners and industry suppliers. I made the list on the airplane on the way to San Francisco so when I landed I was ready to go.
I also added a rule to each question: the answer had to be given in 20 seconds or less. Shorter is better with social media videos and I wanted each answer to be a quick hit of info. Some were shorter than 20 seconds, and others approached the minute length but each question and answer were impactful.
I believe, if used right, social media is a powerful way to recruit & retain great employees, find new customers, engage existing customers and learn something new that will make you more powerful in your industry. If Knowledge is Power, then why not use a visual tool like this and share it with the world? I don't think we use social media enough for business. Frankly, I think many people are fearful of social media for business because we think we're too old for it, or the perfectionist in all of us is worried we will screw something up. The beauty of the TikTok tour is that it is 100% authentic. It's OK to make mistakes and the audience prefers authenticity--the more real, the better.
With nothing to lose, questions in hand, and a fully charged phone battery, I hit the streets.
Below is a sampling of the questions asked:
What is something that excites you about our industry right now?
What is something about your destination that people don't know?
What will you do to make your program special this year?
What item should conferences have during their breaks instead of coffee?
What can hotels do to earn your business?
What are the top two clauses you need to see in your contracts?
What are the top 3 things people need to know about travel right now?
What do you do to promote creativity in your day?
How do you give yourself a break?
What do you love about planning meetings and events?
The answers were spectacular. I learned, shared and have the pics and videos to prove it.
Here are a couple of the results:
A meeting planner from a tech company told hotels exactly what she needs them to do to earn her business.
An MPI President from Texas shared the many ways planners can lean on industry resources to help with short-term meetings and return safely to hotels.
I even shared my thoughts about mints and questioned why they are not a staple of every meeting coffee break.
I recorded the videos in a batch, saved them for later and posted them all on TikTok at one time at the end of the day. I then shared the videos on LinkedIn to show that old business people like me use TikTok too. There is a business case to use TikTok, and I wanted to make that visual and share it.
I loved all the breakouts, general sessions, networking events, and labs that MPI WEC offered. Adding the TikTok Tour to the show sped up my networking and education in ways I couldn't have imagined. It added a dimension of enjoyment to the experience and built a knowledge base even further than I knew it could.
Sharing the nuances of a trade show or conference in this fun, short-form video format enhances not only your own personal experience as an attendee, but it grows the industry as a whole. Think about the people that could not attend, now you're giving them little digestible snacks of the conference. This may compel them to go next year OR it may add an element of inclusion because they were not able to attend for one reason or another.
Next time you go to an event, I double dog dare you to add a TikTok tour of some sort--meeting planner, CEO or whatever fits into your industry bubble. It will enhance the experience, allow for information sharing and grow your industry.
If you have any questions about how to do a TikTok tour for your business as you attend your next meeting or event, contact Mandi Graziano, anytime.
Mandi Graziano is the Amazon best-selling author of Sales Tales: The Hustle, Humor, and Lessons from a Life in Sales which chronicles her 24+ years in the hospitality and conference business. She is also the founder of Facetime Coaching Company and Vice President of Global Accounts for HPN Global. Find Mandi on LinkedIn Live every other Monday at 1 PM PST as she Co-Hosts The live stream show Adventures in Business with Amani Roberts.
To see the actual TikTok tours from June scroll through Mandi's TikTok page: @mandigraziano