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If you’re going to the Arival(opens in a new tab) conference this September, you’ll be glad if you do some prep work beforehand. You’ve likely spent a good amount of money on the conference already, so get the most out of Arival (and other conferences for that matter) by arriving prepared with a well-constructed plan.

We spoke to Arival co-founder and COO Bruce Rosard about how tour operators can best prepare(opens in a new tab) for the event this September in Las Vegas.

What’s the best way for tour operators to make connections before Arival?

Bruce: Arival is launching our Event App this week, July 25, available on the iPhone and Android app stores as well as a desktop version. There is an attendee roster and the ability to request and confirm meetings. We expect this to be a really valuable addition to the networking experience at Arival and companies can start using it as soon as they register.

What’s the best way for a tour operator to stand out on a budget?

Bruce: Building a fully functional website with booking capability is definitely #1. There are a variety of reservation technology companies that offer extremely reasonable pricing structures with technology that will help you manage your entire business, including inventory, pricing, web site build, analytics and so much more. Second step is to make sure your reservation technology integrates via API with leading distributors like TripAdvisor Experiences (formerly Viator), Expedia, GetYourGuide, Groupon and others. While many operators worry about paying the 20%+ commissions these distributors require, you have to realize that you only pay them when they make a booking. That can be a lot less expensive than pre-paying for marketing that may, or may not, deliver bookings.

What can tour operators do to maximize their Arival experience?

Bruce: Come to Arival ready to learn and also ready to share. So much of what happens at Arival is people learning from each other during open networking times, parties, meals, etc. Be prepared to share your best practices and be a sponge with everyone you meet. Use the Theater Sessions as a time to really look at the big picture of this amazing industry. Hear from the leaders who are always thinking about the future, be inspired by that. There will be 20 workshop sessions — that is, more content than you can possibly take in.

Think about bringing at least 2 or 3 people from your company so you can divide and conquer. But at the very least, carefully review each workshop session and select the ones that will be most beneficial to where your business is today.

Finally, take advantage of the Demo Labs. These sessions give you an opportunity to really look under the hood at reservation technology and potential distribution partners in a deep and close up way that you can’t get on a phone call. Think of Arival as a bit of a marathon. Get there by 1:00 on Monday September 24, plan to stay out late each night to network, party and have fun, but make sure you’re up early the next day so you don’t miss the sessions. You can sleep on your flight home and the following weekend.

What makes Arival different?

Bruce: The tours, activities and attractions sector is the hottest in travel, in fact it is the third largest sector of travel after airlines and hotels. It is also the fastest growing and is literally the “best part of travel”. But, until Arival, there was no event, no platform, no place, no community for the industry to come together. Arival created that in 2017 and over 550 people attended. For the event in Las Vegas, September 24-27, over 1000 attendees will be part of the Arival community. Having an event where everyone is part of this awesome industry is really what makes Arival special. You are surrounded by your peers from over 30 countries, people who share the same opportunities and challenges and who are as excited as you are to be at the event. Come join us!

If you’re interested in registering for Arival, you can do so here(opens in a new tab). And while you’re at it, read some more Tourism Tiger wisdom by checking out our article “How To Get Maximum Value Out of Conferences and Trade Shows“.

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