A Hosted Buyer Programme Guide for Successful Business
Trade shows, conferences and B2B networking events can all be very useful when looking for sales opportunities. But when it comes to the most efficient approach to finding and working with suppliers, a Hosted Buyer programme is a fantastic option for executives and meeting planners whose organisation is ready and eager to expand the experiences they offer for their customers.
The concept of hosted buyer programmes was first developed and introduced by IBTM and are a key feature of many events like IBTM World. Their success inspired many other events organisers and hosted buyer programes are now cropping up more and more at other trade shows across a variety of industries.
If you’re considering applying to be part of a Hosted Buyer programme, want to know what the benefits are or are just looking for advice on how to get the most out of the opportunity, this article offers answers to all of these points.
In this article:
What is a Hosted Buyer Programme?
A Hosted Buyer programme is an organised opportunity for exhibitors to meet with a curated selection of buyers to promote their business offerings. It’s often an element of a larger trade show or industry event, but can also occasionally be an independent event consisting of scheduled meetings hosted by an organiser.
Hosted buyer programmes were created as a way to offer buyers with the most spending potential more efficient opportunities to meet with relevant suppliers and exhibitors at events. A succinct itinerary of meetings is organised, allowing for productive conversations with sellers that want to make sales and buyers with the decision-making power to agree to these proposals.
The buyers that attend a Hosted Buyer programme are usually ‘sponsored’ by the event which means that all of their travel, accommodation and catering is taken care of. They also benefit from the kinds of networking opportunities that you wouldn’t get by regularly attending an event, as only the best industry exhibitors tend to be selected to meet with top business leaders.
Benefits of a Hosted Buyer Programme
Perhaps the biggest benefit of attending a Hosted Buyer programme is the number of opportunities for sales and networking conversations. Instead of attending an event as a regular buyer and having a much less structured approach to hearing sales pitches, a Hosted Buyer programme gives you a minimum number of meetings a day, ensuring multiple productive and hopefully successful meetings.
Many Hosted Buyer programmes, such as those organised by IBTM, also offer to arrange these meetings for you and will matchmake based on the suppliers and exhibitors attending. This saves you time and hassle before the event and may lead to exciting business opportunities you may not otherwise have considered.
Another benefit you can expect is that there’s an element of quality control in these programmes that Hosted Buyers can enjoy. You'll only be having meetings with exhibitors that are ready to make sales and will usually have done their research on your organisation, which leads to greater satisfaction and success on both ends of the deal.
You’ll be sent your meeting schedule in advance of the event, which means you’ll know all of the organisations you’ll be meeting with and have ample time to research them. This can lead to much more productive conversations, as you can go in with a clear idea of what you’re looking for and can lead with any questions or clarifications that are needed before making a decision.
Some buyers see having a fixed schedule at an event as a benefit that improves their entire experience. You can enter into meetings with clear goals in mind and then spend the rest of your time benefitting from workshops, talks and networking events without having to worry about being targeted with unwanted sales pitches.
Some events offer a special series of workshops, talks and networking opportunities for their Hosted Buyers, so you can often enjoy exclusive access to learning and development opportunities specifically tailored to individuals in your position. If you choose a fully-hosted package, you also get your travel and accommodation expenses covered by the event!
How to Get the Most Out of the Schedule
Attending a Hosted Buyer programme at an event? Here’s some of the best advice for making the most out of your schedule.
Stick to Your Schedule
Hosted buyer programmes sometimes get a bad reputation for buyers failing to show up to all of their scheduled appointments, which is why a condition of your application is agreeing to attend a certain number of meetings every day. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with your schedule in advance so you know when you’re going to be unavailable and don’t end up double-booking, but also so that you can prepare yourself for busy periods and don’t end up feeling burnt out.
Read up on Each Exhibitor
If you’ve got 10-20 meetings planned over the course of an event then it’s a huge task to individually prepare for each meeting. As a buyer, you don’t really need to have a pitch or proposal prepared for each conversation, but you will benefit from doing a little bit of research on each of the people you’re meeting so you know what they’re offering and can start to consider the questions you might like to ask or suggestions you might offer.
Consider Long-Term Potential
Whilst the main purpose of Hosted Buyer programs is to lead to productive business deals, make sure that you also keep long-term opportunities in mind. Even if a seller doesn’t seem like the right choice for your business right now, you should still make the most of the opportunity to make a connection, consider potential investment in the future, and lay a positive foundation that you can revisit later.
Make the Most of the Event
If you’re a Hosted Buyer at a large event with a significant attendance, consider how you can make the most of being in an environment with so many business and networking opportunities. There might be other exhibitors you don’t yet have meetings with that you’d still like to speak to, so once you know when you’ll be in arranged meetings as part of the programme, consider what you can get done in the remaining time.
This is especially worth doing if you’ve travelled a significant distance for the event and have the opportunity to arrange conversations with other attendees that you would otherwise have to do virtually. Make the most of what’s on offer whilst you’re there and you’ll return feeling like the trip was much more productive.
All that being said, remember to pace yourself during the event as well. As an experienced organisational decision maker, you’ll likely be used to back-to-back meetings and negotiations, but Hosted Buyer programmes can be quite intense if they only take place over one or two days.
To make sure that you’re prepared for all your scheduled meetings, give yourself time every day to switch off and take a break from conversations. Many events have a dedicated space for Hosted Buyers to use in between meetings, often with catering, which should be used to your advantage so you stay energised and rested for the remainder of the event.
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How to Qualify
The qualifying criteria for Hosted Buyer programmes differ slightly between events. In general, you need to be a senior-level decision maker in an organisation and often need to offer proof that you have a meeting track record.
Applications will also require proof that your organisation is in a position where substantial business and sales are predicted or planned in the coming year or so. If you can’t show that you can offer exhibitors sales opportunities, you won’t qualify as a Hosted Buyer.
Eligibility criteria will be available on the event’s website, so you can check the specifics there.
Buyers also have to commit to attending a minimum number of meetings each day of the event. This ensures that there are enough opportunities for exhibitors to meet with potential buyers, and also holds buyers accountable to minimise ‘no-shows’.
You usually have to submit an application to be part of a Hosted Buyers programme, although some events will approach buyers and offer them a place if they feel that there’s a lot of business potential with attending exhibitors. Applications will usually include reasons for attending, your decision-making or purchasing power and how much business you’re expecting in the next 12 months.
Top Tips for Quality Networking
As a Hosted Buyer, you’ll likely either get access to exclusive buyer networking opportunities or have the option to attend wider networking experiences as part of the event taking place. These occasions can be incredibly valuable both from a sales perspective and to help broaden your industry connections.
One useful piece of advice to bear in mind when networking is to go into these situations with a specific goal in mind. Not only will this give you some direction on who to talk to and what to discuss, but it will also lead to much more productive networking events that feel a lot more rewarding and enjoyable.
Secondly, have a list of conversation topics you can fall back on if someone you’re talking to appears shy or you reach a lull in your discussion. As well as classic conversation starters asking people about themselves at the job, also consider asking if they’ve attended the event before, if they’d recommend anything in the area, and whether there are any talks or other items on the schedule that they’re looking forward to.
Being open to different opportunities is a great tactic for more productive and successful networking. Whilst having a goal in mind is good, you shouldn’t be so focused that you forget to enjoy making new industry connections or that networking can lead to different kinds of useful relationships. For example, even if the people you meet aren’t likely to become business partners, they still might prove to be a useful source of industry insight or guidance, or have other connections that might be useful to you down the line.
Finally, remember to be proactive after networking. It’s a good idea to keep notes of who you’ve spoken to during an event, and then afterwards follow up on these conversations to remind people of who you are, what you do and what you talked about. Seize any potential opportunities you paid the groundwork for, and at the very least try and connect with people online.
Hosted buyers programmes are an element of events that buyers should make use of if they want to elevate their experience and enjoy the benefits of having a schedule curated. They can be a jam-packed period of time, but they’re an incredibly efficient way to discover new business offerings that can help to improve client and customer experience.
If you’re interested in the Hosted Buyer Programme at IBTM World Barcelona 2022 and want to enjoy countless benefits including a bespoke schedule of meetings, flights and accommodation, and access to our bespoke knowledge programme, you can register your interest for the event or request the Hosted Buyers brochure.
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