Networking is the most important aspect of Pow Wow, according to
Raymond Lutz, senior vice president of marketing and membership
programs for the Travel Industry Association of America and general
manager of International Pow Wow.
This year's event will host 1,285 supplier booths and welcome
nearly 6,000 international delegates.
To help delegates get the most out of Pow Wow, a manual and an
orientation session are available. The session is scheduled to take
place today, May 16, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
A large portion of
both the manual and orientation is dedicated to the system of
prescheduled appointments, a significant factor in the success of
Pow Wow. Under the system, international delegates complete a form
indicating the U.S. suppliers with whom they want to meet. There
are 40 appointment periods, each 20 minutes long. "The
responsibility is up to them [to make Pow Wow a success]," Lutz
"From the time delegates get the guide, they can fax contacts to
arrange meetings, get preliminary information and learn a little
about the company." Lutz added, however, that "informal contacts
are sometimes more important than the scheduled ones."
TIA offers the following suggestions on how delegates can get
the most out of Pow Wow, from pre-scheduling appointments to
Delegates can coordinate appointments with the other members of
their company. This will avoid duplication on the part of the
delegate and the supplier, enabling each to meet with a greater
number of people. It can be helpful to monitor the appointment list
prior to arrival at Pow Wow. After reviewing the list, delegates
can determine which suppliers they need added to their list.
Lutz said it is important to use appointment time wisely. Buyers
should determine which suppliers they want to meet for the full
20-minute block and which suppliers can be seen in passing. For
example, delegates who want only to pick up brochures from a
supplier can stop by the supplier's booth between appointments or
during the on-site appointment scheduling sessions. These sessions
are offered to give delegates an opportunity to arrange additional
meetings with suppliers as needed.
Delegates are not obligated to meet with a supplier who
requested an appointment. Politely refusing unnecessary
appointments allows the delegate and the supplier to make the most
productive use of their time.
Closing the deal
U.S. suppliers who attend Pow Wow expect to negotiate and obtain
firm commitments from international delegates, so all delegates
attending ought to have the authority to make business commitments.
Asking specific questions during each appointment will help
delegates obtain the information needed. Delegates are advised to
take careful notes to avoid confusion later, and it is a good idea
to summarize for the supplier an understanding of any arrangements
made. If necessary, schedule additional appointments with the
supplier to complete a negotiation or discussion.
According to Lutz, this is one of the most important aspects of
Pow Wow. Upon returning home, delegates should plan to contact the
suppliers in writing to recap any arrangements made and to thank
them for their time. Normal procedures should be taken when
verifying the credit of any supplier. Pow Wow does not guarantee
the financial reliability of any participant, Lutz noted.
Pow Wow is a yearlong effort that can be maintained by
contacting colleagues throughout the year. Continue to monitor
results of current programs, revise budgets and priorities if
needed, and plan for next year's Pow Wow.
Remember to carry an appointment schedule book and appointment
Meals and social functions can be good opportunities for making
contacts, scheduling appointments and generating additional