Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Working Trade Shows to the Max

Almost every industry has a trade show, and "working" them both from the exhibitor side and the visitor side can be challenging. As an exhibitor, you can win new business, re-establish or find new relationships, or you can damage yourself irreparably. As a visitor, you can educate yourself, find new products, make new contacts, re-establish relationships, or waste your time and money. In both cases, you have a choice.

Thoughts for Exhibitors

I firmly believe that anyone who represents a product should be trained in sales and have a very firm grip on the product. Why? Let's look at the hospitality industry. I have walked by booths where the representatives were so busy talking on their phones or texting that they never noticed I was there, waiting for their attention. Or, when they met with me, they pulled out a canned IPad "spiel" and when asked a question beyond the computerized scope, had no answer. Unless someone can really "sell" the product, no fancy booth will matter. It's great to have a full bar, cappuccinos and fancy food, but those won't earn business. They'll just attract people who want to eat and drink. So exhibitors should invest in the booth people and train them. That goes double for a formal presentation. They should be rehearsed and dynamic. The job is to sell. If that means hiring a trained presenter and then having someone else on standby to answer questions, then it's a solid investment. Think of how much money is lost when the audience becomes disinterested and bored.

To the exhibitor, please don't put loud music in your booth so that no one can talk (or hear). Nothing can be more annoying than a loud band across from a small booth. It's rude and inconsiderate to the other exhibitors, don't you think? And no destination was ever sold by having a loud musician in its booth.

Another tip? Have a microphone for the person presenting to a group. I want to hear what is being said. Make the visuals fascinating as well as informative and don't just read exactly what is on the screen ... entice me.

As a visitor to my travel and hospitality industry trade shows, I'm often criticized for not having an RFP in hand when I visit the booths and exhibits. What is my response? I have little interest in making appointments with destinations with which I am familiar, hotels I have seen and people with whom I've already met. They already have my RFPs. I want to meet with destinations about which I know nothing, hotels with which I am not familiar, and people I don't know but should. Then I am truly bringing value to my clients by learning new products. How can I possibly suggest to my customer a place about which I know nothing? How can I know that it might be perfect for their meeting or incentive? Thus, no RFP. I am sourcing and fact finding, which is why I go to these trade shows.

General Suggestions

There is always a boon when renewing friendships and business relationships. However using valuable appointment times for visiting old friends is for non-show hours or in one of the lounges in-between appointments in my opinion. From the exhibitors' point of view, if the appointment time is used up showing kid and pet photos and "catching up," would it not be more worthwile to meet a new prospect with some business opportunities?

Trade shows are big business and a huge investment of time and money for exhibitors and visitors. So, the next time you attend a trade show, think about the injustice you do your clients (or your company if you are manning a booth) when you don't work all the opportunities available to you in the moment. Really think about your goals and outcomes and then how to achieve them. They are gold opportunities, don't you agree?

Andrea Michaels is Founder and President of multi-award winning Extraordinary Events. To learn more about Extraordinary Events, visit To contact Andrea, email her via

No comments:

Post a Comment