It's a proven formula: targeting and evaluating/prospecting a show in one long day. The latest example is the Heli-Expo Show in Houston.
This annual show moves between cities (including Dallas, Houston and several others). It takes up most of a multi-hall convention center, so Houston's George Brown and the Dallas Convention Center fill up nicely. The hall is laid out clearly and fairly with the major anchor exhibitors (Bell Helicopter, Eurocopter and Sikorsky) evenly spaced at the right, left and center of the hall, with smaller exhibitors evenly patched in between them all. In other words, just because you bought a 10x10 in-line booth doesn't mean you are relegated to the back and far corners of the hall.
So, the strategy was to see the show in one day: catch a flight first thing in the morning from Love Field to Hobby, take a cab to the hall, get a badge, walk the floor, and do the reverse at the end of the day. It took from 7am to 9pm, gave us an understanding of our client's place in and use of the show and of the show itself (exhibit designs, locations, tone and character) and all cost less than $200. Hey, one could even pick up a few new business leads along the way for a reasonable cost-per-lead.
The highlight of the show was Sikorsky's exhibit: large scrims above the booth showed projected video, the carpet held all of the partners and subdivisions of the parent company, and a stage showed repeated dramatic videos hosted by professional talent. Eurocopter served champagne at the introduction of a new model. Promotions in booths included a maintenance company with a campaign centered around the theme of "think of it as Sky-agra." Some have no shame--but are memorable.
Further evaluation to follow tomorrow.