Small fairs facilitate
interaction among tourism players,
including local travel providers, community leaders, media,
government officials and inspired visitors. Even better -- such
events are quite effective without being expensive!
The difference between a traditional tourism conference
and a grassroots events is the focus. Create something that
serves the needs of locals while being receptive to visitors.
Unlike a typical trade show in which attention is given to connecting
the out-of-town guests, we put our focus on locals using materials
and infrastructure already on hand. What's different -- what's
added -- are the activities, contests, games that are created.
Since 2001, Planeta.com
has partnered with friends in Oaxaca, Mexico in hosting an annual
tourism event. The average cost is about $200 U.S. dollars
per event. Purposefully, the budget was kept low so that the
event can replicated. All that's needed is plenty of good will
The important point is that grassroots events
create the opportunity to bring together multiple stakeholders.
Here are some lessons learned.
Keep it simple.
Make it fun.
Make it free or inexpensive.
Make it inclusive - extending an invite to locals
Make sure there is plenty to eat and drink!
BEFORE THE EVENT
Convene friendly and short meetings with partners
to organize the schedule of events.
Collect feedback from those interested in the fair but unlikely
to attend. Can they participate in parallel events online, using
Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube?
Update the schedule online, preferably on a wiki. (Example:
2011 Responsible Tourism Fair)
Prepare promotion -- online and natural world -- including a
website, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, requesting links on other
websites, posting news on relevant forums and print ads (volantes)
to distribute locally.
Prepare materials for participants, including flyers, program,
identification tags and diplomas if desired.
Prepare a survey or surveys for participants.
DURING THE EVENT
Give locals and visitors a chance for meaningful conversation
Take pictures of the event and share photos using Flickr
Survey participants -- ask what interests them. This information
can be used in developing follow-up projects, including specialized
tours, workshops and publications.
AFTER THE EVENT
Present exhibitors and supporters with a certificate or diploma
(constancia). Constancias seem to be more
important Latin America than the United States or Europe.
Prepare a summary of the event and distribute to those you've
sent an announcement. This is a simple courtesy and provides
needed continuity as many events are announced and not implemented.
If you've conducted an event, let people know.
Prepare a slide show documenting the event. You have the pictures.
Now you can make the show!
Conduct an online chat or webinar.
Everyone has fun.