A profile sheet is one of the basic means of communicating information in the group tour industry. It is a one page document that contains information, photos, contact information and any other details that tour operators might need to know. At the major group tour tradeshows such as those of the American Bus Association and NTA (as well as international shows—see below), the profile sheet is the only document that suppliers (which includes attractions, hotels and destinations) can give to the operator. This is so the operators are not inundated with thousands of brochures and other handouts. The standard profile sheet is 8.5” x 11” and should have three-hole punches. This allows the tour operator to place the profile sheet directly into a large binder at their booth and keep your information on file after the show.
What should be on your profile sheet? Here are the basics:
– The name of your attraction should be across the top and easy to read.
– Photos sell your product. You need hi- res photos that are large enough to show off your property. The tour operator can get a sense of what your facility looks like, and you can use the photo as a talking point.
-limit text to bullet points. People rarely read blocks of text, so use short phrases to convey what makes your attraction a must see.
– Amenities. List items such as gift shops, cafes, parking for buses, proximity to major roads or other attractions. Are you handicapped accessible?
—Distance from other locations
—Your photo so tour operators can remember you
Also nice to have:
—Professional affiliations such as ABA, NTA, etc.
—Social media links
Here are some examples: House of Seven Gables (www.7gables.org); Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard (www.flycreekcidermill.com); Corning Museum of Glass (www.cmog.org); and Fenimore Art Museum (www.FenimoreArtMuseum.org).
The Essentials: Let’s expand on the basics a bit to make sure you get the best use out of this one document that you can.
First, the type of paper. Don’t print on paper that can’t be written on. Shiny paper might look nice, but it keeps a tour operator from being able to write notes on the profile sheet while you are speaking. Some have told me that is the best way for them to remember information so don’t deny them the opportunity. Use a heavier stock of paper so it can withstand the wear and tear of use back in the office.
Second, make sure to use both the back and the front of your profile sheet. I am always amazed when I see a blank back side of these handouts. You are losing a huge opportunity to share more information.
Can it be more than one piece of paper? Technically no. But I e-mailed Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association, and his savvy staff confirmed that is OK to have a bi-fold profile sheet, so you basically have an outside front, two inside pages and a back. I have seen variations on that with a stylish half page on the front as well; so, as long as it is just one piece of paper, it is ok.
Third, keep it timely. If you are going to feature exhibits and shows with specific end dates, be aware that your document will need to be updated each year. Some companies choose to work with an evergreen product that needs be updated only every few years. Others want fresh profile sheets with new programming featured. Either way works, and it’s just a matter of your budget. And if you know your offerings far enough in advance to be able to promote them!
I have seen QR codes being used more frequently and I do have a suggestion there. I took an educational session at the NTA Exchange one year where a speaker suggested having the QR code go to a video, instead of just a website. It delivers more impact—I have used that tactic before to take a quick snapshot of the QR code on my own profile sheet and show an operator our group tour video. Much easier than dragging a tablet around!
Some Notes on International Meetings: I find profile sheets to be very helpful at international shows as well. However, you should have a different profile sheet with information that international receptive operators will need to know, that might not be pertinent to domestic group operators.
Some examples include
—Do you have FIT rates available?
—Do you have information in multiple languages? Many attractions will print visitor maps or have audio guides in multiple languages
—Can you translate the profile sheet into the languages of your clients? Although most of our European tour company contacts speak English, we have found it is very helpful to have our international profile sheet translated into Mandarin for our Chinese contacts. Perhaps, if a majority of your international clients speak another language, it is worth the investment to translate your profile sheet. It is an easy way to show that you understand the market and its needs
Handing out one sheet of paper with your contact information on it is always a benefit over multiple documents. Everyone has to go home after the show and sometimes bigger visitor guides and excess information get left behind. A profile sheet is a small document that will make it back to the tour company office and continue to work for you.
* Sally Berry is tourism sales and marketing manager at Corning Museum of Glass. A long time veteran of the tour and travel industry, she is credited with increasing the profile of the museum on both the U,S. domestic and international travel marketplace and in developing itineraries with other attractions and destinations in New York State and Pennsylvania that are “beyond the gateways.” Among her many industry roles, Berry is a member of the NAJ Group’s Strategic Advisory Committee. This article just recently appeared in her blog, TheAttractionsCoach.com.