The In-Person Roadshow Is Dead: Embrace Digital Marketing Instead

January 23, 2024
Imaginative visual of business people and financial firms staff . Concept of human resources , enterprise resource planning ERP and digital technology .

In-person roadshows were once the most effective way to reach target markets, but strategic digital marketing is the wiser way to reach the same goals more efficiently and without spending excessively. It’s not that in-person events don’t work, but they just are not the wisest way to spend precious marketing budgets these days.

Digital tools have been increasing in popularity over the years, but budgets don’t always increase at the same rate. Having to juggle between traditional approaches and new ones means prioritizing spending and making sure the way things were done is still the best way.

When it comes to roadshows, it’s pretty clear that traditional roadshows can still reach a specific market, but not as effectively as strategic digital marketing. These five reasons spell out why.

1. Digital Marketing is Less Expensive 

Invest where it counts, not where it used to count. It takes a lot of resources to plan a road show and, quite frankly, interpersonal networking events are declining in popularity. DMOs need to ask themselves if the event is more for them, akin to a vanity project, or if it is actually generating leads.

Digital marketing tools like email marketing, paid search, display ads, and paid social are the obvious choices, cutting the costs of transportation, catering, and room reservations. Sure, traditional roadshows may be fun, but if attendees aren’t enthusiastic about attending in-person, the spend is for naught.

2. Digital Marketing Welcomes Everyone

Not everyone lives and works in a major hub, and traditional roadshows can’t hit every city and region. It’s simply not practical. In general, events only cater to people in big markets. As remote work becomes normal for meeting planners – even more so than before the pandemic – DMOs aren’t reaching the best people anyway.

A digital marketing approach, however, throws the door open to even the most remote event planner. By targeting ads and social campaigns to wider markets, or at least by not alienating smaller markets as much, destinations can maximize their return on investment through digital marketing and still get their message across.

3. They Require Organization for Marketers

Roadshows take a lot of time. Attendees can’t even imagine. Organizers, however, can’t control who shows up. It’s better to invest in digital marketing where you really can track open rates, engagement rates, and make changes as you go along instead of risking it all on an in-person event. 

You can’t A B test events with a tight budget. It’s a one-and-done situation. With digital tactics, however, you can revise and repeat strategies, ensuring you are hitting the right mark and learning from your errors.

4. Digital Marketing is More Convenient for Meeting Planners

Convenience trumps everything these days, especially in North America where long drives and inadequate childcare prevent many people from attending in-person events. With digital marketing approaches, however, attendees don’t have to hire a babysitter to hear more about a destination.

A destination can spread its message across social media networks and other platforms to make sure you are meeting planners where they are. It’s a much more efficient approach than trying to wrangle them to meet you on your terms.

5. They Reach New Markets

DMOs can customize content for different types of audiences and be more niche with digital marketing strategies. Angling a facet of a digital campaign to associations or another display ad to incentive planners will help make sure you are serving niche interests. Attendees who may not have come out for an in-person event will instead see pertinent destination messaging served right up to them through their screen.

By not trying to cram everything into one in-person event, you can program smaller digital approaches to engage more deeply with meeting planners. A digital marketing strategy creates a customizable experience that will pay off big time, allowing destinations to engage the travel trade efficiently without missing out on other spending opportunities to market themselves.

Looking to optimize your roadshow tactics by going digital? DCI has more than sixty years of experience engaging the travel trade industry. Get in touch with Pamela Laite at [email protected] to learn more.

Written by

Pamela Laite

Director, Business Events