Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Changing your display approach

One of the difficult things to do in exhibit management is change course when it comes to presentation. Most times, strategy drives these changes. Lately, cost and a realization of what a real ROI is has helped make the decision.

Our colleagues at Aviall made changes based upon both.

At the Paris Air Show, Aviall showed less hardware and product than they have in previous years. They are using more graphics and using storytelling by staff to portray the products as opposed to actually displaying things. This accomplishes several things:

  • Sharpens the focus of Aviall's mission from the product to the process
  • Reduces expenses by lowering freight and drayage costs as well as saving time in filing paperwork to import and export displays and products.
This evolution has helped reduce clutter and cost and help tell more of the Aviall story, since it is now not focused just on product, reports Kim Williamson of Aviall.

This is a great example of a company sharpening the focus of their presentation based upon their key messages and understanding their clientele.


Report from Paris Air

Our colleague, Kimberly Williamson of Aviall, recently returned from the Paris Air Show at LeBourget Field. She filed this report for us.

"The show went well for us," Kim said. "while the rain was a disadvantage for those with outdoor displays, it drove traffic indoors to our stand," she said.

As with others reporting on shows during these interesting economic times, Kim reports that while overall attendance appeared to be down, the visitors they did receive were high quality.

"We are a supplier-based business," Kim continued. "We had the right people visiting us (from our standpoint)."


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Field Report from AWWA

Our colleague, Rick Rackow of EBAA Iron, just completed the American Water Works Association trade show. Here are some of his observations of this year's show:

"Show attendance, according to AWWA, was down only 3% to 6%," he said, "which was surprising."

"Our (EBAA's) traffic was light, considering past shows," Rick reported, "but the traffic we had was of high quality. Many other exhibitors reported the same, while very few said it was (bad)."

While attendance was low overall, some people here (at the show) try to find one cause, Rick said, "I feel it was more of a combination of all causes (economics, etc.)."

Thanks, Rick. Sounds like a theme from others reporting from other industries' shows: lower attendance, but higher quality leads (more buyers). Attendees are becoming increasingly selective.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reporting from the field: using a show to full advantage

Our colleague, Sheri' DuMond, of Pacific Biometrics Inc. (PBI) is on site at the AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) National Biotech Conference this week in Seattle. She will report for us as time permits.

Before things get started tomorrow, Sheri' told us this as she and her colleagues prepared to staff the exhibit and attend the show:

"The show starts Sunday and will be good" for business, she reported. "We're hosting a lab tour and open house Tuesday," she continued. There are a good number of people pre-registered for the tour. "(Our business director) has several appointments and I have a major client dinner Tuesday night" at a local high-end restaurant.

Several good ideas floating here:
  • If your facilities are located in the show city, offer up a tour. Great way to show off your capabilities first hand and show off the staff, too. Also gets the staff involved and understanding of the sales process.
  • Customer-only dinner. Again, in your city and you get to keep them captive for a few hours and show them a good time.
  • Planned ahead. Pre-registration is a great idea to gauge interest and control the guest list.

Thanks, Sheri', we look forward to more reports from the show.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Report from HCEA

Our colleague Corbin Ball was at the HCEA show this past week and filed a report for us.

HCEA stands for the Health Care Exhibitor's Association (www.hcea.org). This annual event is a conference between health care industry people who exhibit at trade shows and events and the suppliers of the exhibit industry.

Corbin reports:

"It was a quick in-and-out for me so I did not get the full feel. I don't have the attendance figures, but it seem about the same as past years (around 700 people). The exhibit (floor) also seemed about the same size as in past years. I did not see anything new on the floor in terms of event technology, however. Twitter is just starting to catch on at HCEA with Freeman using it to bring people by their booth. All in all, it was a good time."

Steady attendance, continued discussions, low-key introductions of technologies. Steady is good.


Thanks to Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, technology speaker and consultant from Bellingham, WA (www.corbinball.com)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Reports from Paris Air

Watch this space. The Paris Air Show opens today at Le Bourget.

This show should be quiet. With airlines asking for their orders from Boeing and Airbus to be delayed, the crash of the Air France jetliner in the Atlantic and the Boeing Dreamliner's maiden flight not taking place until after the show, look for news from other areas.

Most likely defense. Fighter contracts, helicopters, weapon systems. With two active wars and several hot spots around the world, this is an area of interest to many.

Our colleague and friend, Kimberly Williamson of Aviall, is at the Paris Air Show this month. When she has time, she will report to us "from the field" to keep us updated on this very important aerospace and aviation show.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Advising suppliers of awards

When it comes time to let your competing suppliers of a contract award, here is one request:

Call them. If you can't call them, send a polite e-mail. But, above all, don't just not contact them at all and make them hear about the "loss" from a third party. That's like hearing about a break up from someone other than the person breaking up with you.

Be polite. It's the only thing to do.

And, besides, if things don't go well, you might need to have a fall back plan with the rejected vendor.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trade Show Bob Reports from IFT

Our colleague, "Trade Show Bob" Milam, reports from Anaheim and the International Food Technology Show:

"The Annual Meeting and Food Expo of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) was held June 7-9 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Despite the absence of four major "anchor" exhibitors (Kraft Food Ingredients, Kerry Ingredients, Wixon, and Tate & Lyle), and amid dire predictions of drastic attendance declines (made mostly by self-purported food industry "experts") most exhibitors experienced extremely positive results.

Attendance numbers were reported as follows:

  • Exhibitor badges were down sharply, due to the absence of several large exhibiting companies
  • Attendee badges (the buyers) were reported to be at 103% of 2008 levels (when the show was in New Orleans)
  • Expo only badges were up 125% from 2008.

No doubt some of this increase was due to the absent exhibitors "suitcasing" the show, however, the floor traffic remained strong and steady, even up through the final hour of the show.

Most exhibitors I spoke with fell into one of two categories ...

  1. The Eeyore's. These exhibitors were firmly convinced that they would not have a good show, and they worked hard to prove themselves right. One example in particular involved an exhibitor who complained about being placed too close to his direct competitor, who he claimed was "stealing" all his visitors. When I asked him why he didn't highlight his points of difference that makes his company/products unique, his response to me was "we have all the accounts we need". I wasn't able to be much help here.
  2. The Pleasantly Surprised. Many exhibitors are catching on to the new attendee paradigm emerging at the shows I've recently attended. Attending companies are indeed sending fewer people to the shows, but they're not sending less work or projects. The posse size shrinks, but the workload remains. This translates into attendees with agendas, and no time to waste. Exhibitors who recognize this, work to get on dance cards, quickly sift thru the crowd, find the "whales"and succinctly deliver their messages.

The buying plans are there. The business is there, but it requires a different mindset to find it and get it. Doing things the "same old way" or "knee jerk" bailing out of shows (which is different than leaving for well thought out business reasons) will cause many companies to win d up like GM. Personally, I'm hitching my star to the companies who are smart enough to think differently in these different times.

FYI, space at the 2010 IFT is already 95% sold out."

Thanks, Bob, for a clear report. Sounds like business is rebounding and recovering, at least in this industry.


Monday, June 8, 2009

The MRO Show

One of the more interesting and original ideas to come out of the MRO Show this year was this product display.

At first glance, this looks like a skid arrived at the booth and was overlooked and not unpacked. In reality, it did several things, according to Kim Williamson, trade show manager for Aviall.

Kim explained that it shows the range of product types as well as the uniformity of product packaging. As always, Aviall is the "box the parts come in."

This was a simple act that drew attention to the space and the products. It allowed for a number of products to be shown without taking up precious real estate (the booth was only a 20x20 or 20x30, most of the space dedicated to conference space).

It became a conversations tarter that got casual attendees to talk and veteran guests to open up (maybe with a "I didn't know you did that" query).

And, it had the bonus of already being mostly packed on the down.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Outbound shipments

It's usually the last thing on your mind, but you have to be clear thinking all the way to the end.

When you are packing up to leave the floor, be sure and have all of your boxes, crates, skids, bags and cartons accounted for and assigned to an outbound shipment.

Make sure that there is a bill of lading (BOL) for each outbound shipment (depending on the hall and the general contractor, this may also include FedEx and package deliveries).

In the case of the recent show we produced, there was a local shipment. Be sure and be clear to the I&D crew, your show house contact, the driver and anybody else who needs to know--where and when does this package/shipment have to be where it is promised to go.

Then, and only then, can you leave the show floor. It's always a good idea, if you can, to be on the floor from move-in to move-out, to be there from bare concrete to bare concrete.