Tips for the trade
Vail, CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” For Mike Brumbaugh, trade shows are mostly about work, but they’re also a chance to catch up with other professionals.
Brumbaugh, of Venture Sports in Avon, will spend almost all his time in the Venture Sports booth during a Nov. 8 trade show hosted by the local chapter of Hospitality Sales and Marketing International. But by staying put, he’ll see most of the 300-plus people expected to attend.
And that’s the point of the hospitality group’s spring and summer trade shows, which give businesses a chance to introduce ” or re-introduce ” themselves to conceirges and those who make reservations for large groups visiting the valley.
“It’s a good networking time for me,” Brumbaugh said, “I’ll hear if a company’s been bought, or if people have moved. It’s a good way to see and catch up with people I haven’t seen since the last show.”
Alisa Steinberg, director of events for Larkspur Restaurant in Vail, said the hospitality group’s show is also a chance to show off what’s new, for both newcomers and front-desk veterans.
“In the off-season people can lose track of who does what,” Steinberg said. “And each season is different, so we go over menu changes, and when we want them to send us people, because we have two seatings.”
Larkspur also brings samples of its food, including the restaurant’s famed chocolate chip cookies.
Brumbaugh believes in goodies, too. He spends much of the show giving away prizes to those who register at his booth. It’s a good way to keep people interested, and, of course, draw more attention to his business.
For Brumbaugh, keeping in touch with the people who bring customers to his door is becoming more important as big companies including Vail Resorts provide their concierges with lists of approved businesses either owned by the company or that have signed contracts for services.
“More companies are going that way,” Brumbaugh said. “I think a concierge should recommend the best products and services. I think those exclusive deals do guests a disservice.”
But the lodges that don’t have exclusive lists can find a lot to choose from at the Nov. 8 show. And that information can come in handy.
Danielle Oliveira is starting her second season as a concierge at the Sonnenalp in Vail. She said last year’s show was a good resource for her.
“I got a lot of brochures and information about prices,” she said.
Honing the trade
While the Nov. 8 show is focused more on consumers ” through concierges and others ” a Nov. 6 show put on by the Vail Valley Partnership at Beaver Creek will concentrate on what businesses can do for each other.
The former BizTech show ” now called Success Quest ” will be bigger than the hospitality association’s program, with 500 or more people attending.
Vail Valley Partnership Chief Executive Officer Michael Robinson said in addition to showing off inventories and services, Success Quest will be a chance for business owners to learn from each other, too.
Besides the usual vendor booths, plans this year call for several “breakout sessions” in which businesses demonstrate their products, as well as how they do business.
The opportunity to learn from other businesses is one of the reasons Sue TerBush of Alpine Party Rentals in Eagle attends trade shows whenever she can.
Of course, she also wants as many people as possible to know what the company can do for clients.
At Success Quest, Alpine Party Rentals will have a small-scale wedding tent set up, complete with a margarita machine (although the company won’t be able to put tequila in the mix).
“But I love to walk around and go through everyone’s booth, to see what they do,” TerBush said. “I like to talk to other people and finding out how other people are dealing with problems we have, too.”
Helping to launch
At least a couple of businesses are putting a lot of faith into Success Quest.
This is Jessica Grentner’s first year holding the local franchise for Resort Maps. Her Vail Valley map won’t have Vail on it, but will include businesses and attractions between Eagle-Vail and Eagle.
Like other tourist map companies, Resort Maps depends on selling ads to local businesses. Grentner has been selling spots, but plans to do a full-blown demonstration at Success Quest to gin up more interest.
Vail Sitters also plans to makes its first public appearance at Success Quest.
We want to get in front of the people who are in front of the tourists,” said PJ Hoberman, who’s company, VailPM.com, is handling marketing for the new company, which will book trained, insured sitters who will come to hotel rooms condos and private homes.
“We’ll have incentives there, and we want to partner will bars and restaurants on advertising for events,” Hoberman said. “This is going to be a cornerstone of our marketing effort.”
The timing of the local shows is deliberate, too. Not only is it easy to book Gerald R. Ford Hall in Beaver Creek the first week of November, but it’s also a time when fall vacations are winding down and business owners are gearing up for the coming ski season.
“Once winter’s here there no time for this,” TerBush said. “Shows like this get you ready for what you hope is going to be a busy season. It gets your gears rolling, and you get excited, you get your name out there for people.”