Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Report from the Field: Trade Show Bob at TS2

Our colleague, Trade Show Bob Milam was at the Trade Show Exhibitor's Association (TSEA) TS2 (trade show for trade shows) last week in Chicago. He filed this report for us.

"I have indeed just returned from TS2 last week, where I had some very interesting conversations with industry colleagues. It was my first TS2 in a number of years, since it always seemed to conflict with another show, or something."

"I was somewhat surprised, yet pleased, to see the difference in the attendee make-up between TS2 and Exhibitor Show. While Exhibitor Show caters to the client-side-based 'Trade Show Manager', I noted that TS2 attracted a much broader (yet sparser) spectrum of the industry. I&D Company principals, transportation guys, designers, show organizers, exhibit builders, etc., etc., were walking the aisles alongside some exhibit managers."

"I was able to have several discussions about current industry 'hot issues' with many of these industry participants - which was the most valuable part of TS2 for me. In listening to their comments, I have drawn the following conclusions:
  • Shows are definitely needed - face-to-face isn't going anywhere (I already knew that, but ...)
  • Attendance is down universally - with corresponding buying power % up.This isn't helping the health of the shows - down is down = less money coming in to stage the event.
  • The two big issues for shows these days are : 1) exhibitor retention and 2) attendee attraction.
  • Most shows don't know how to do either one very well.
  • Exhibitors continue to show how naively ignorant they are (as a group) when it comes to evaluating a show's potential for success.
"These last few bullets have really got me thinking about how to reach more potential clients for 'Trade Show Bob' while having the greatest impact on the industry. I'm formulating some plans now that I'll be testing out in the coming weeks. If all goes well, I may have new success stories to share."

Thanks, Bob, for your insights and observations.


Bob Milam can be reached at

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