An Executive Director's point of view


April 13, 2017: Take care of exhibitors

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
When a company purchases an expo booth or table top at an organization event, don't just grab its money and run.

The company made an investment, not a gift. Make sure it receives a return on that investment.

Ensure that your members and supporters visit those booths and tables.

Don't ask them to visit. Don't plead with them to visit.

Compel them to visit.

Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Place registration at the far end of the exhibit hall, so people will have to walk past the booths and tables to sign up for your event and to pick up their materials;

2. Conduct a game that requires attendees to visit various booths and tables (but don't charge exhibitors extra for that). Award a prize to winners;

3. Offer free lunch, dessert, or coffee in the room where booths and tables are located;

4. Schedule a time with no educational sessions, workshops, or other activities so attendees will have no other place to go besides the exhibit hall;

5. Place booths and tables in a room or hallway where attendees will have to walk. Don't banish exhibitors to the far reaches of a building where nobody will bother to visit them.

If you don't care about the exhibitors, then don't ask them for money. They are paying for access to your audience, so ensure they gain that access.

February 05, 2016: Ditching the expo

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
Is this a unique action by one exhibitor, or is it the beginning of a trend?
Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
If your association provides exhibitors with a list of conference attendees, include an email address for everybody on that list.

Don't omit email because you don't want registrants to be inundated with messages they don't want. They can delete those, just as they can discard mailed flyers they don't want.

Providing exhibitors with an attendee list but making it difficult or expensive for them to contact the people on that list is hypocritical. You are telling them they can contact attendees when you know most of them really won't be able to.

So, if you don't want your people to be contacted, just don't give a list to the exhibitors.

December 25, 2014: Locked out

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt

October 01, 2014: Too many days

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
A colleague was thinking of stretching the association's annual meeting from five days to six. I advised not to. I felt that attendees were already fatigued and many left before the end of the closing day (or even earlier).

Jack Wayman, founder of the Consumer Electronics Show, always kept his event short, despite the growth of the industry and the popularity of the show.

"Everybody used to ask, 'Why can't the show be a full week?'" he related. "Because everybody has to go home and make a living, and fish, guests, and tradeshows smell after four days," he answered.

(Thanks to ASAE for pointing to the quote).

July 06, 2014: Who's a real customer?

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
Here's one way to identify a potential buyer at a trade show.

August 19, 2013: Face-to-face

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
A recent study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research found that professionals in all age groups valued face-to-face meetings.

Interestingly, exhibits were ranked by all age groups as the No. 1 way to deliver important, face-to-face interactions for job performance.

Check it out.

Thank you to Association Forum of Chicagoland for pointing to the study.

August 13, 2013: Trade show tips

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
Here are some good trade show tips about booth communications, booth etiquette, and limiting expo access to "legitimate" attendees.
Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
An association was initially miffed to learn that attendees of some of its breakout sessions would have to walk through the expo hall to get to the meeting rooms.

But it soon realized that would generate more expo hall traffic, pleasing exhibitors and spreading activity throughout the conference area.

The expo "hall" was actually an extremely large foyer, typically used for cocktail parties and receptions. The openness lured attendees who might otherwise have passed up a closed-off exhibit room.

The area was separated with low-set pipe and drape, and a security guard checked meeting badges at the entrance. But the visibility from nearby areas enhanced its attractiveness and added to the ambience of the conference.

Lesson learned? Show off the expo hall and make it easy (and necessary) to walk through it.

April 11, 2013: Chairs at trade show booths

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
If you use chairs in your association's expo booth, think about ordering high stools, instead of standard chairs.

The people staffing your booth will be at eye level with visitors and are more likely to appear engaged.

When volunteers staff the booth, they often sit in the standard chairs to relax, and they end up talking more to each other than connecting with colleagues. It makes the booth look more like a lounge than a marketing vehicle for the organization.

Here are some more tips for staffing an expo booth.
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