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.

Pow Wow logoA 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 said.

"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 following up.

Appointments

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.

Follow-up

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.

Suggestions

Remember to carry an appointment schedule book and appointment list.

Meals and social functions can be good opportunities for making contacts, scheduling appointments and generating additional business discussions.

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