Niche travel: trade shows

Niche travel: trade shows

Possibly no other agent in New Zealand knows more about Germany in general and (almost certainly) German trade shows than Robert Laing, owner of Messe Reps.
Laing has actually been dealing with trade shows since 1989, when he worked with Jetsave and later White Heron Express. He started Messe Reps in 1996 and says trade fairs in Germany are still big business and still well attended by companies in New Zealand.

‘The fairs still provide a window to the world,’ he says. Laing sees his business as similar to those agents who specialise in sport, cruise, art, education and other niche travel. ‘Our customers appreciate us as a travel service with specialist knowledge of the trade fair industry, the venues and of the cities.
‘Most business travellers from New Zealand know a lot about Sydney, Singapore and London but not necessarily Dusseldorf. And they may know a little about Munich because everyone’s been to the Beerfest, or about the gateway Frankfurt, but not so much about Cologne,’ he explains.
‘It’s a narrow niche but it’s the way travel has gone over the last few years. With the internet and direct supplier offerings it is difficult to be a general travel agent.’
That said, Laing accepts his own speciality comes with modern challenges.
‘Accommodation is more readily available through the internet so people come to us for knowledge. You don’t know what you don’t know, so sure people can book something themselves but there have been so many times I have talked to people who have booked the wrong city and/or the wrong date. When people think they have a bargain, they almost certainly haven’t.
‘We know a lot about these cities – the available accommodation, the location of the fairground and the airport, things to do, places to eat and more.’

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