Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Putting Together an Exhibit from Stray Pieces

We coming up on 60 days before our next show and my client an I have a challenge: finding an exhibit.

My client's problem is common: every few years on their show schedule there is a conflict between two major shos. Both demand the use of the custom properties, but one market prevails.

One way to deal with it would be to ship the exhibit between shows (from site to site). However, in this case, one show ends in New Orleans on the 7th and the next one opens in Vegas on the 9th. Too little time to ship too much and still get it down and up.

What else can we do?

Take a look at what properties you have in your invetory. Can you piece together parts to make a workable exhibit?

Can you rent something that fits your needs and doesn't compromise your brand?

Both are viable, but we are choosing the former. We have enough, but may have to build to add to the inventory.

I'll keep you posted in this space on what transpires between now and when the NEw Orleans show opens on May 6.

Stay tuned. What would you all do?


Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Industry Isn't Dead

After returning from the EXHIBITOR Show in Las Vegas last week, I've come to the (mixed) conclusion that the trade show industry isn't dead.

It's just trying to figure things out before moving on.

The good news is that I sat in classes that had anywhere from 100 to 140 people. Of those people (as polled in one of "Trade Show Bob" Milam's classes), nearly a third claimed to have less than 3 years' experience in trade shows.

The good news: companies see the value in doing trade shows and are hiring and training people to do this for their companies. There is business out there and companies are reaching out via trade shows to engage customers.

The bad news: the majority of these people are under 30 and most likely vastly underpaid for what they do. That probably means these young people will move on (and/or up) and that management doesn't value the function enough to pay for it by buying experience and a long-term employee. However, from a business perspective, it makes sense in that it probably is cheaper to pay lower wages and retrain replacements every few years rather than nurture a professional trade show person.

The industry is changing whether we admit it or not. Something in the model has to change, and most of it has to do with the perception of marketing, particularly trade show (face-to-face) marketing.

Inside companies, we need to work on making marketing a strategic part of their business approaches and plans.

Outside, we, as professionals and suppliers in the industry, need to examine whe we do, how it is perceived by the customer and forecast the best direction for the trade show and events industry. Standing pat with an aging business model won't make it right--or make change go away. How shows are conducted, how they are sold, the elements and how they are used all need to be examined.

I think we can all have some fun taking the next steps. Nothing like a challenge.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Personalities of Our Industry

After Day 1 of the 2010 Exhibitor's Show, I am again reminded just how lucky we are to have some of the personalities we have in this industry.

I would say "characters", but I want to be fair and balanced here. they all have character, but are certainly not caricatures.

"Trade Show" Bob Milam, "Booth Mom" Candy Adams, Jerry Gerson, Elaine Cohen, Mark Bendickson, the Nagles of Czarnowski, the Freemans, Ray Andrews and dozens of others. These people all have contributed and continue to contribute to the trade show and events industry. These people and many others have helped found exhibit companies, created everyday concepts we take for granted and taught us how to make things work on the show floor and with our marketing plans.

The good news, both for the industry and those coming after us, is that they are sharing their knowledge.

I sat in several sessions yesterday. All three classes were required for the CTSM program and were filled: 120 to 140 people in each. And nearly 60% of these attendees have less than 3 years of experience as trade shows and events people for their companies.

Think about that for a second.

Business leaders think enough of trade shows and events as a marketing tool to (1) hire someone to manage them and (2) send them for training out of the office for several days. Must be some business out there.

Thanks to the veterans and to those who want to learn.


Monday, March 15, 2010

At the Exhibitor's Show 2010

Off the plane last night and safely set up at my hotel, I'm off this morning to Mandalay Bay and the 2010 edition of the Exhibitor's Show.

I'm here all week to report on and keep up with the latest in education, trends and networking associated with the trade show and events industry.

First up today are classes on show operations (from Candy Adams) and project management. The exhibit area opens this afternoon and networking fills in the gaps and tops the evening.

Also look for posts at my other portal over at Zachry Associates (

More later today.