How to make medical tourism conferences more effective for presenters and attendees.
Questions You Need To Answer
Why medical tourism as a whole, why your country in particular, why this specific city and how is it overwhelmingly better than onshore services? Once I’ve convinced then tell me how I can sell these services including who typical customers are and their respective sales tactics.
Ensure native speakers read over all the presentations, review all the content (online and offline) and listen to the presenters. This ensures the format, look & feel (language, colors, navigation..) of the presentation follow local norms. This also minimizes cultural faux pas and ensures “happiness” and “co-operation” means “a high satisfaction rate” and “partnership opportunities”. Native speakers must be fluent in the local culture, language and preferably been born or spent at least 5 years in the country you’re presenting in.
A hosted familiarization trip is critical to generate sales. Travel companies will not promote your destination until they’ve visited the country and facilities they intend on offering their clients. It is too much of a leap of faith particularly for such a sensitive travel product. Imagine a customer hearing “I have / the owner of the travel agency have personally visited Busan Korea and toured multiple facilities. Let me tell how professional they are and how they’ve exceeded all my expectations. I thought it would be like ____ but I was pleasantly surprised to learn ________” – let me show you some of the video & pictures we brought back”. Priceless!
Have ample content in multiple modes available including audio, video, brochures, packets, white papers, promotional materials (bags/pens/notepads..), case studies, testimonials, etc. Answer all the questions patients and travel trade will or could potentially ask from the time the person leaves until they return from the treatment.
If you already have Americans, Russian and Europeans clients, have your testimonials reflect customers from these areas. Too many testimonials are from the destination and not the local country.
Its better to pick speakers who are bilingual or speak the local language with an understandable accent. All others should use a translator.
Suggested Topic Flow
Medical tourism conference attendees want to know about the country as a whole, then the city in and then information on specific providers. Make sure the MC for the event is a local and ensure strict organization and flow from one topic to another.
Address Common Mis-perceptions About Your Country
Attendees already know or will soon know what the consensus is about your country. Is crime a problem in your country? Address it, don’t avoid the subject – Deal with it. Is crime a misconception? Provide reputable facts from multiple credible sources to prove your point including sources from the country you’re presenting in. Let’s use South Africa as an example. Depending on where you go, crime can be an issue. South Africa Medical Tourism needs to address this while they have the attendees attention rather than bringing up the subject after the conference.
English as a Foreign Language
If your medical tourism destination is non-English speaking or perceived to be, address this from the time the patient arrives until they leave the country. Will they have bilingual staff available and if so what are their backgrounds (ideally they will have studied in the local country). Is the hospital staff bilingual? Do you deal with international clients now and if so how many from the country you’re presenting in? Language barriers are critical to address in no-uncertain terms.
Present at Multiple Conferences
Host sessions or speakers at more mainstream travel trade conferences (TheTradeShow, WTM..) in addition to medical tourism specific conferences. To build a long term relationship – which is in the best interest of the medical tourism destination and local travel agencies – you must be seen as an authority and seeing a destination in more than one conference is a big part of that.
Explain “How”, not just “Why”
Conferences answer ‘why’ a destination should be considered for medical tourism but don’t offer concrete examples of how a travel agency or a tour company can take advantage of medical or health tourism services. Make it as easy as possible for the travel agency/tour company to sell your medical tourism services and answer all the questions they and the patient would have beforehand. “We offer pre-packaged tours and build your own tour services” but individual add-ons are also available both of which pay 20% commission. Here are a list of vendors who already sell these services and here are tools to help you design your own travel products. How will the travel agency earn revenue and what steps are required for a typical sale? How does an agent book a sale and how is payment confirmed? What guarantees are there? Make it as ‘turn-key’ as possible for sellers.
Speak to the Audience
Ensure the content is tailored to who you’re speaking to. You cannot have a one size fits all presentation. How you speak to the travel trade is different to the way you approach patients.
The conference is an excellent opportunity for foreign providers to interact with (local) potential customers and partners. Use this time to understand our motivations and pain points and incorporate what you’ve learned during or after the conference.
Start and End On Time
A few minutes here and there is understandable but any longer is unacceptable.
This isn’t a requirement but it can be assumed that attendees to a Korea Medical Tourism conference will expect Korean food during the conference.