Here’s to a truly social ATM!

The 2014 edition of the Arabian Travel Market, is well and truly here and the region’s hospitality and travel professionals are once again descending upon Dubai for a week of exhibiting, meetings, and after-parties.

In recent years, the exhibition has become not only bigger, but also more social and many exhibitors have made efforts to extend the reach of their show presence into the local online space. In my opinion, this is overall a good trend, because it helps exhibitors to increase the visibility of their stands during what is usually a very crowed and busy event, and it also helps visitors to organize their time at the show better.

Have you downloaded the official ATM mobile app yet? It’s available for iPhone and Android devices and it saves you having to carry around the printed exhibitors directory on the day leaving your hands free to pick up all those chocolates, dates, pens, and stress balls. Oh, and it also saves the environment!

If you’re exhibiting, your stand shouldn’t only be listed in the directory, but it should also be on Foursquare and Facebook as a venue, which will allow visitors to “check in” online. Every time they do so, it creates digital ripples, which help others to find out more about your exhibition presence.

A Foursquare location listing also allows you to publish ATM specific updates to a local audience and offer specials to visitors to your stand – potentially a great way to attract digitally-savvy exhibition participants.

It goes without saying that you should advertise your presence at ATM on your company’s social media channels – if at all possible with pictures.

Social media offers you the chance to be your own publisher rather than wait for official media representatives to come and visit your stand.

How about creating a special ATM Instagram & Twitter hashtag for your company and projecting the live feed of updates on a screen on your stand? Ultimately, it’s about building your database beyond just collecting business cards – the future is about social connections, so start to collect them during this year’s ATM.

Big trade events like the Arabian Travel Market may even value creating a set of limited-edition business cards with your team-members and company’s social links included. I visited the stand of a local hotel operator during last year’s ATM and the business cards of all team-members contained QR codes that, when scanned, led visitors directly to the company’s Facebook page – neat, but it doesn’t have to stop there. You could create a micro-site on your company’s website which displays links to all your social networks and link the QR code there. It’s also worth considering including links to your team-members LinkedIn presence on their business cards – it’s all about making it as easy as possible for your visitors to connect and stay in touch with your company during and after the fair.

Now, if we could only find a way to turn chocolate, pens, and stress balls into virtual give-aways!

By Martin Kubler