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EVENTS

How to organize a grassroots tourism fair
by Ron Mader

EVENTS WIKI

As the garden grows so does the gardener.
- Garden Notebook

Buzzword Bingo: Face to Face

FLICKR ALBUM: Events


Small fairs facilitate positive face-to-face 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 and patience.

The important point is that grassroots events create the opportunity to bring together multiple stakeholders. Here are some lessons learned.

GUIDELINES

Keep it simple.
Make it fun.
Make it free or inexpensive.
Make it inclusive - extending an invite to locals and visitors.
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 and play.

Take pictures of the event and share photos using Flickr Groups.

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.

BENEFITS

Everyone has fun.

 

FOOD

Memorable events have memorable food and drink, preferably local specialties. Offer local foods that can be provided with minimal packaging.

SIGNAGE

It's worth repeating how valuable signage is to an event. From announcements (posters, flyers, websites, email) to the event itself (posters, erasable board, badges) to post-event coverage (slide shows, summaries, websites), signage is key to effective communication.

In developing the program or any draft announcements, you might want to print 10-20 copies to solicit direct feedback.


AUTHOR

Ron Mader is the responsible travel correspondent for Transitions Abroad and host of the award-winning Planeta.com website. On a sidenote, Ron is happy to consult with communities, local governments and business associations.


This Planeta guide is part of our professional 'How2' series featuring practical tips on How to Host a Press Trip, Green Events, How to Write a Media Release, How to Improve Signage and How to Prepare a Media Kit.

FEATURES

g Green Events

WORKSHEETS

g Worksheet: Storytelling Now
g Worksheet: Contando Historias
g Worksheet: Erzähle deine Geschichte – Jetzt!

FLICKR

g How is your conference green?
g Oaxaca Tourism Fairs 2001-2013
ONLINE FLICKR

WIKI

g 2011
g Events
g How is your conference green?
g Conferencing in the Virtual and Natural Worlds
g Promoting your event on Planeta.com
g Toward Effective Communication in Responsible Travel and Ecotourism
ONLINE WIKI


PLANETA CONFERENCES

g Evaluating the International Year of Ecotourism + 10 2012
g Tourism and Biodiversity 2010-2012
g Food, Health and Cultivating Communities 2008-2011
g Tourism and Climate Change 2008-2009
g Ecotourism Challenges Dialogue 2007
g City Environments 2004-2011
g Environmental Impact of Transportation 2003
g Sustainable Development of Ecotourism 2002
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INDEX

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Check out Ron's workshops and presentations.

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Ron Mader


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