Double the value from RDA-Workshop in 2016
What is the significance of exhibitions in the internet age? Trade exhibitions remain indispensable for our industry, a sector characterised by medium-sized enterprises and personal relationships. Trust develops and grows when we meet and interact with real people. The RDA-Workshop – the largest European trade exhibition for the coach and group tourism sectors – presents itself in 2016 for the 42nd time in Cologne and RDA-Workshop participation is open to non-RDA members for the first time. The exhibition is also moving from Cologne Fair’s halls 10.1 and 10.2 to halls 4 and 5.
Bringing forward the exhibition date by three weeks to 5-7 July 2016 is expected to have a positive outcome in terms of trade visitor numbers. Unlike past years, this new date lies largely outside the German summer holidays. This year, the RDA also hosts its 65th annual general meeting on the afternoon of the third day which should increase in attractiveness as a result.
In 2015, 900 exhibitors from 41 countries and 72 coach and group tourism sectors were represented at the RDA-Workshop in Cologne. Over 78 per cent of RDA-Workshop visitors in 2015 were decision-makers – buyers or company owners, managing directors, authorised representatives from some 3,500 companies. This includes a number of UK exhibitors.
The 2015 RDA-Workshop Visitor Survey revealed important results for existing and potential exhibitors alike:
• over three quarters of trade visitors stated that they had placed orders at the RDA-Workshop
• roup travel bookings are being made even further in advance
• over 90 per cent of trade visitors in 2015 stated that they would “definitely” or “most probably” attend the exhibition once again. Almost all would certainly recommend attendance to their colleagues
As a special bonus for RDA-Workshop Cologne exhibitors, participation at a new pre-RDA-Workshop from 7-8 April 2016 in Friedrichshafen is also on offer in 2016. Travel trends and new products will be presented there. The RDA is fulfilling the desire of many exhibitors and trade visitors alike for an earlier beginning to the year with this new pre-exhibition. Friedrichshafen should attract coach and group tourism operators from southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy in particular. A free return bus shuttle will be available from Zurich International Airport to Friedrichshafen Fair. The venue can also be easily reached by public transport from Friedrichshafen railway station.
Broad industry appeal is probably one of the best arguments for UK coach tourism companies and group tourism suppliers to exhibit at this year’s exhibitions. Exhibitor invitations for the 42nd RDA-Workshop in Friedrichshafen and Cologne are now available from the RDA-Workshop Touristic Service. The closing date for RDA-Workshop stand registrations is 26 February 2016.
The event provides UK destinations and supplier companies with a wide spectrum of business opportunities and an excellent chance to position their coach travel products and group tourism services on a growing international stage. Strong personal relationships, business contact networks, and co-operation at European and global levels are the unique selling points of this trade-only exhibition.
The RDA-Workshop 2016 offers UK exhibitors a tried-and-trusted platform:
• meet coach travel & group holiday tour operators
• network with and get-to-know potential clients
• nurture existing contacts and generate effective synergies
• develop and close business directly with decision-makers
• to establish and or expand presence in the German and European markets
• promote and sell UK coach and group tourism destinations, products, wholesale packages and services
• meet new European suppliers
• survey current market developments, industry trends and coach tourism innovations.
Group travel is highly popular among British and German consumers alike – older people, clubs and associations in particular – because group travel is good for social cohesion, team spirit and general wellbeing. Whether by coach, rail, ship or airplane – a package trip in the company of others offers lots of advantages to special interest groups and senior holidaymakers. International trade buyers who wish to attract such customers need experienced UK and European partners and a sound international platform for business dealings, research, communications and exchange.
According to the latest FUR Travel Analysis, modern tour coaches play a central role in a mix of holiday transport options. Some 60 per cent of German tourists, for example, who fly abroad also use coach travel in their holiday destinations for excursions, city tours, round-trips and hotel transfers. Coach use during cruise holidays is also high accounting for 54 per cent of travel package services provided, and coach & rail holidays boast 23 per cent coach usage. Coaches and groups are a significant market and for many the most important element to building a buoyant local tourism economy and making visitor attractions into successful businesses.
Coach holiday demand in Germany has remained fairly stable for over a decade at around 8 per cent of the overall holiday market (over 5.5 million holidays of over five days’ duration in 2014). Around 1.25 million combination flight/coach trips were also taken abroad in 2014. Enquiries and bookings for 2016-2017 are showing strong demand for culture, history, study and active programmes, including walking, cycling and archaeology. Today’s tour operators are allowing guests more time for themselves and for optional day trips and activities, including cookery courses, craft workshops and farm visits along with holidays focused on wellness and relaxation.
Everyone in our fast-moving travel industry wants to be up-to-date. The RDA-Workshop TrendForum has established itself as an important asset for the sector and – like the RDA-Workshop itself – it also comes in a twin-pack in 2016, taking place in April in Friedrichshafen and in July in Cologne. Whether PR, marketing, sales, market research, safety or online communications – a new, exciting and topical theme is featured in the TrendForum programme every half hour. Make sure that you include a visit to the TrendForum as part of your RDA-Workshop 2016 participation because it serves as a communications magnet for exhibitors and visitors alike – a place where spontaneous business introductions and ad hoc contacts occur. Visitors can also contribute; as a speaker – with a presentation on your particular area of expertise; as a participant – to learn something new about a topical issue; or as a discussion panel member – to share and debate with colleagues, federation partners and industry experts.
The RDA-Workshop has a well planned communications programme including visitor advertising, online appointments, RDA-Workshop App, exhibitor coaching, trade-press releases and a multitude of complementary activities to ensure that everyone who participates is well prepared.
Group tourism federations in Europe are also banking on stronger international contacts and co-operation in order to succeed in an increasingly global business environment. Leading European federations are organised in the European Alliance for Coach Tourism (EACT). These include, among others, the CTC – Coach Tourism Council (UK), CPT – Confederation of Passenger Transport (UK), European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) and RDA-International Coach Tourism Federation (RDA). EACT will also be present at RDA-Workshop once again in 2016.
This year will not be an easy one for tour operators according to informed commentators. Bookings have been weak since the terror attacks in Paris and with an uncertain world political situation customers are apparently waiting with their holiday plans for 2016. One thing is clear: even in times of global crisis Britons and Germans will not give up on their holidays but are either changing holiday destinations or types of holiday taken. So opportunities still exist – not least for coach and group travel to and from the UK. Against this background coach tourism operators and group tourism destinations and suppliers need to fine-tune their business models and master the current crises so that they can once again celebrate positive business results in 2016. The RDA-Workshop is one of the best places to do so!
7-8 April 2016 in Friedrichshafen, Germany
5-7 July 2016 in Cologne, Germany