Tips When Attending Trade Shows

Trade shows can be an excellent opportunity for you and your business, whether you are an entrepreneur or you’re representing the company you work for. Thousands of people set up trade show booths and trade show displays across the country at a huge variety of industry events. However, many people don’t know how to take advantage of the opportunities a trade show offers. Some plan on simply attending, setting up their trade show booth, and then staying there all day hoping to attract new business.

Manning a trade show display is only part of the reason you should be attending a trade show. The other vendors at a trade show can provide you with a wealth of new information and contacts in your industry; all accessible in the same room on the same day—this is the unparalleled attraction of a trade show for your business.

If you plan to attend a trade show, make sure you are not the only person there representing your company, even if you are a small business owner with few employees or a sole proprietorship. You will need at least one person to staff your trade show booth, and another to walk the floor taking in the other trade show displays.

If necessary, get your spouse or a good friend to come with you and give them a crash course on how to handle your trade show booth while you check out the other vendors – and only do so when it is slow so you don’t miss important business opportunities. When you make reservations for the hotel you will stay at during the show, try to find a room as close as possible to the actual location—preferably within walking distance. That way, you won’t have to bring anything with you to the venue other than the materials for your trade show display.

Before you attend a trade show, go over the list of vendors who plan to put up trade show booths. Make lists of the vendors you must see, the vendors you would like to see, and those you can live without seeing. You may even be able to schedule appointments with your top priority vendors.

Research the companies and determine ahead of time what you would like to find out from each trade show display and what your goals are regarding each vendor: are they competition, or a potential contact? If they are a potential contact, how would they specifically benefit your company? Have questions ready to ask vendors to save yourself time walking the floor.

Another good time saving strategy is to obtain a map and a directory of the trade show when you arrive on location, before the show begins. Use the map to plan your route, and check your prioritized list of vendors against the directory to find out whether any vendors have been added or dropped out.

During the trade show, be active in your quest for information. Don’t feel bad about passing by trade show booths that don’t interest you. Like you, they are attending the trade show to generate new business, and they don’t want to waste time talking to someone who isn’t a potential customer.

Visit your targeted trade show displays, engage in a dialogue with the vendors, and ask questions. If the trade show booth offers handouts, samples or other materials, take only those you actually want to find out more about. It can be difficult to tote a loose stack of glossy brochures, catalogs, and bulky product samples around a busy trade show floor.

If possible, arm yourself with an empty briefcase or duffel bag to stow materials. Use your time wisely to gather intelligence on your competition and make new industry contacts that will benefit your company.

When the trade show ends, especially if it is a multiple-day event, take the time to make notes and organize the materials you gathered before you leave the event. If you need to mail reports, brochures or other materials to your colleagues, prepare the mailings right away while “who gets what” is still fresh in your mind.

Make sure to store your trade show display safely so nothing is damaged and you can find everything you need the following day. When you return from the trade show, remember to follow up with the contacts you have made—and start preparing for next year’s trade show!

Introduction to Trade Show Exhibits

When you are planning for your next trade show exhibit you should look back to when you were only browsing the many different booths, exhibits, and displays. Remember what type of exhibits got your attention. Your presentation should also draw the crowd.

Before you just rush out and purchase displays for your trade show exhibition you must take into consideration many different aspects of how you desire your presentation to look and feel. You know you want it to speak to the potential customers that are passing by and hopefully bring them over so you can speak with them. Your exhibit must get their attention so will they walk over, and then you can get their undivided attention.

You must first decide which type of exhibit will be the best to present your products, services and your company image. You should also consider your budget. No matter what your budget you can find the perfect trade show exhibits that will convey your message with the image that you want others to see.

The size of your trade show exhibit can either make or break you. If you have one to large, the exhibit will be overwhelming and if you choose one to small it will look overcrowded and cluttered. The most common sizes for trade show exhibits are 10 feet by 10 feet, 20 feet by 20 feet, and 10 feet by 20 feet. Within this size limitation, you must also choose from pop-up designs, panels or complete Truss trade show display booths.

In the 10 feet by 10 feet size, you can find some great displays in various styles and designs. With the Clever 10 foot panel, you can choose from Backlit Header, lights, the color that you prefer for the lower panel and a different one for the upper panel. The benefits of using these panels are that they are sturdy and durable but very lightweight and easy to transport. The average weight of these panels is around 130 pounds.  The Genius I 10 foot panel you can also choose whether you want lights, the counter base color, Counter Laminate Color, the color of the lower panel and the upper panel. The features of this type of panel is that it is a folding panel display system, has 6 upper hinged panels, 6 lower hinged panels, 1 backlit header and lights, 1 alcove counter top and 1 alcove counter base. This wonderful panel is very impressive for all types of displays and normally weighs around 200 pounds.

If you prefer a larger size like the 20 feet by 20 feet, you should like at the features that are included with pop-up displays and Truss display booths. The best pop-up display of this size is the Trilogy 20′ x 20′ Island Pop up Trade Show Display. The features of this unique display are that it is in actuality three trade show booths in one. It has the 10-foot wide back-to-back exhibiting area that creates a triangular or star shape. If gives you the ability to present your products or different aspects of your company all the way around the display. You will also be able to choose the color and fabric that you desire along with a case to counter conversion kit and the colors and fabrics of this kit, lights, shelf package, Backlit Header Package and Reconfiguration Panels. 20 feet by 20 feet Truss booths come in a few unique styles such as the Cassiopeia, which features a steel construction; high shine silver color, 4 tabletops, and the ability to assemble with just four screwdrivers that are included. The Centaurus features the same quality steel construction, the high shine silver color, 24 silver spotlights, and the ability to add tabletops in either light wood or silver in color. The Neptune is sure to grab attention with features like a modular system that is quick and easy to assemble. The Jupiter is another modern and innovative display which gives you great features such as high shine silver color, quality steel construction, 6 tabletops in either light wood or silver, 8 silver spot lights, and easy to assemble with screw drivers that are included. The Vega is similar to other Truss booths but is an eye catching and appealing booth with options for tabletops, colors, and design.

The 10 feet by 20 feet size of displays gives you styles and designs to choose from such as pop-display’s, panels, and Truss booths. All of these also have many unique styles and designs that are sure to aid you in presenting your products, your company, or your services in a manner that is not only unique, stylish and original, but with prices within your budget.

Tips When Displaying at Trade Shows

Almost all products being sold in the market today have already been sold before by their competitors but what makes other products a hit despite their being new in the market? Most entrepreneurs say it is a matter of marketing your products to your target market.

Marketing can be done in various ways depending on the expertise of the marketer. However, one common way to market a new product is through participation in trade shows. Trade shows are held at any time of the year and they do attract buyers and prospective customers.

There are general trade shows but you can choose from niche trade shows depending on your area of business. Companies join trade shows not so much for actual selling but most importantly for showing off their products and for the possibility of getting bulk orders during the trade show.

A company or a sole proprietor planning to join a trade show should take note of the following:

1. Able personnel to man the trade show booth. A trade show is not just an ordinary selling venue but it is a venue where prospective clients abound so make sure that you send your best personnel to man the booth. Some companies take trade shows for granted and allow inept personnel to watch the booth. The people who are put in charge of your trade show booth can make or break your product. A good staff with public relations skill can attract more clients to your products. It is also important to instruct your booth personnel to dress properly depending on the venue of the trade show. Business attire will always be safe.

2. Invite visitors to your booth. The booth personnel must be trained and instructed to invite visitors to the booth. Most visitors walk away from trade show booth when they see the staff busy with their own thing. Tell your staff the main reason why they were assigned to the trade show and that is to get as many visitors to see your products. Booth personnel should be able to answer questions from the visitors because the visitors may already be potential customers. A booth demo will catch the attention of visitors especially if the demo is useful to them.

3. Prepare your brochures, leaflets and business cards and make sure you do not run out of them.  Always expect plenty of people to visit trade shows so never be caught without your marketing tools. Imagine if a potential client asks for your brochure or your card and then you cannot give him anything just because you did not prepare for an influx of people. It is better to have plenty of left over marketing materials after the show rather than miss the opportunity of showing off what you have to offer.

4. Keep a visitors’ book. Most companies who join trade shows require visitors who get their free marketing materials to sign up in a guestbook. However, only a few of these companies will communicate with the people who signed in their guestbook. Be creative and use the guestbook as a sourcebook for potential clients. The people who visited your booth and who got your materials are definitely interested in your products or else they will not even glance at your booth. Why not take advantage of their contact information?  Mail them a thank you letter along with more information about the product and where they can buy the products.

5. Promote your products but do not be too pushy. Visitors are often turned off by very eager booth personnel who call out to the visitors using their loudest voice. No one would want to visit your booth if your personnel are boisterous. Allow the visitors to go inside your booth and look at the items you have on display but always keep a welcoming smile. Entertain their questions and try to respond to them accordingly. Never shout your words of welcome to the visitors since they might feel defensive all of a sudden and decide against looking at your products.

Anatomy Of A Successful Trade Show Exhibit

A trade show, also known as a merchandise show or market week, is an exhibition or a business gathering organized by companies that showcase and demonstrate their new products and services and also their latest offerings. Trade shows also provide opportunities for companies to meet their customers, to learn new trends and to identify new prospects.

Trade shows are not open to the public and can only be attended by company representatives, members of the trade and members of the press. One advantage of holding a trade show is that it shortens the time it takes for companies to look for prospective customers. But the major disadvantage is that customers and prospects pay little attention to the many exhibitors and their products due to the many distractions and the busy atmosphere inherent in trade shows.

Exhibitors can make effective use of trade show displays in trade shows to direct visitors to their main display area. Trade show displays are used to give visitors a better understanding or appreciation of the products or services being marketed. Although exhibitors are only supposed to put their trade show displays within the confines of their designated trade show exhibit area, exhibitors also display items in strategic areas of the fair grounds. Trade show displays often used include banner stands, counters and cabinets, panel display etc. that clearly display the company logo, basic company information and company slogan.

The trade show booth is an important component of the trade show display as it aims to enhance the brand and marketing experience for the visitor. It facilitates valuable direct face-to-face contact between the companies and their prospective customers. The whole booth set-up includes counters kiosks, lighting, flooring, literature racks, banner stands and high impact graphics, with the booth design, the staffing and the handouts the main factors to a successful trade show booth.

Many companies prefer to rent pre-owned trade show exhibits and displays rather than to buy or to create them from scratch to save on the trade show booth construction costs and also on the expense of warehousing the displays after the trade show is over.

Trade shows demand a lot of work and effort, and exhibitors have to plan well in advance so as to make the trade show a success. It is because any successful trade show offers exhibitors with a very valuable opportunity to build relationships face-to-face with their clients and to close lucrative business deals.

The 2017 Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) West Conference brought manufacturing of the future into the present day at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The exhibition and conference took place Feb. 7-9, with more than 30,000 manufacturing technology professionals, engineers, designers and executives engaging with more than 2,000 exhibitors on nearly 400,000 net square feet of exhibit space, the most exhibit space to date for the show. 

“We have seen an increase in net square footage,” said Nina Brown, vice president of events for UBM.

She added, “With an event like this, it’s important that we keep a focus on connecting our show participants together and to deliver an experience that reaches our broad audience base.”

In addition to the increase in exhibit floor space, the show boasted a 35-percent increase in attendance, compared with 2016.

Standout showfloor features included Club Connect, also known as the VIP Lounge, a Center Stage and Tech Theater that provided free live content, and Connection Corner, a dedicated networking area.

One attraction that appealed to many attendees was the keynote speaker, Jamie Hyneman from “Myth Busters,” who currently works with some of the companies exhibiting at the conference.

Hyneman participated in a question and answer session format and seemed very much at home with the conference participants. This standing-room-only session clearly appealed to many attendees and tied in well with the show focus on manufacturing innovation.

“I love to build and I feel entitled to ‘geek out’ to this crowd,” Hyneman said.

Just down the hall from the keynote, a lot of the attendees decided to indulge in the networking lunch.

First-time attendee Kevin Ens, CEO of Tevosol, said he was focused on making quality connections within the industry.

“It has been amazing to walk the showfloor and talk to so many people,” he added. “The diversity of this crowd has made networking easy, and I’m very excited about the connections I’ve made.”

The theme of diversity and quality attendees also was shared among exhibitors. 

Mike Jones, vice president at MicroCare Medical, said he found several attendees who were looking for products that are safe and eco-focused.

“For our client base, we want to be product stewards and help them find cleaners and lubricants that are safe for the user and minimally impact the environment.,” Jones said.

He added, “And with a location like Southern California, this conference helps connect us to those like-minded prospects.”

Both on the showfloor and in the educational sessions there were several common themes, including collaborative robotics, smart manufacturing and machine-to-machine connectivity, which also led some exhibits to showcase predictive modeling for a glimpse of the “factory of the future.”

In the Videojet exhibit, trade show manager Kimberly Johnson highlighted machine-to-machine connectivity as a booth demonstration must for the show.

“Showcasing our software at the show really allows us to highlight our solution and bring this concept into the heart of our exhibit booth,” Johnson said.

She continued, “This optimizing lens transitions easily into predictive analytics, where we are helping our customer base use data to keep lines up and running.”

According to Brown, many exhibitors are using the conference to showcase the technological impact that is taking place in manufacturing.

“This is almost like an industry 4.0 version, looking at the future and how manufacturing is evolving and incorporating technology like never before,” she said.

Speaker and exhibitor Scott Phillips, CEO and founder of Starfish Medical, said he was pleased with what he was experiencing and witnessing at the show.

“I have been able to speak to several show attendees and have found I’m making some great connections, and it has been great to see so many interactions take place, both on and off the show floor,” he said.

Brown also commented on the new dynamic of the conference.

“The show still has a traditional manufacturing foundation with an innovation offering, which provides a truly unique experience for those in the industry,” she said.

Brown added, “I love how manufacturing is changing, and our show is changing with it to stay relevant and forward-thinking.”

The 2018 Medical Design and Manufacturing West Exhibition and Conference will return Feb. 6-8. to the Anaheim Convention Center. 

LA Auto Show Hits ‘Refresh’ Button with Huge Success

February 17, 2017
Rachel Wimberly

Rachel Wimberly is president and editor-in-chief of Trade Show News Network. Follow her on Twitter – TSNN_Rachel.

A few years ago, the 110-year-old Los Angeles Auto Show was at a crossroads: it could either keep having the same show it had been holding for a long, long time – or, in a sector that was in desperate need of a change, it could take a chance and switch things up.

Fortunately, the show chose option No. 2, and after bringing on new management in 2012, it has taken big steps since to offer a more dynamic experience to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who attend each year.

The show’s executive vice president and general manager, Terri Toennies, said of the initial step that was taken, “The LA Auto Show decided to outsource and look for a new general manager for the show. The previous manager had been there for 30 years.”

Toennies, who has a background in hotels, special event venues and the House of Blues, came on board along with Lisa Kaz, the show’s president and CEO, and they both started looking at ways to ‘disrupt’ the show.

“For 14 days (at the show), every day is like running a concert event really,” Toennies said.

Attendees are coming to the event expecting to not only see the latest and greatest models of cars, but also they want to be wowed by ‘new’ technology and trends.

As a result, Toennies said, they decided to launch the Connected Car Expo in 2013 to tie in the world of the Internet of Things.

“We had a lot of tech exhibitors mixed with automobile manufacturers,” she added.

The Connected Car Expo evolved into AutoMobility LA, which now includes big-name speakers from companies like Intel, as well as a conference and a technology pavilion.

“The attendance has almost doubled since 2012,” Toennies said as a result of the changes made. “We took something that was on the horizon, and it continues to grow.”

The 2016 LA Auto Show press and trade days, now called AutoMobility LA, drew nearly 25,000 industry professionals and media correspondents, not only from the traditional auto show crowd, but also from a whole new variety of major tech companies, news outlets and startups, such as Facebook, Intel, PolySync and others.

From 3D-printed cars to virtual reality simulators, AutoMobility LA proved to be far different from the traditional auto shows many were used to and a trendsetter in the industry.

Any time a show, especially one with a deep history like theirs, decides to do things differently, it’s important to have all the key stakeholders on board.

“They are your platform, and they’re buy in is important,” Toennies said. Fortunately, brands jumped at the idea and ones like Ford embraced it wholly, even holding a hackathon at the 2014 show challenging people to come up with new technology for their cars.

Adding the technology component to the show, she added, also brought it a whole new energy that included attendees and media that had never been to it before.

“Whatever we are doing is working because we are bringing in a new audience,” Toennies said. Especially, she added, the coveted 18-35 age group.

The auto brands have upped the ante as well, creating more experiential marketing in their booths.

“It’s not just a consumer show, but more of a festival feel,” Toennies said. “In California, car culture is so big.”

The show also has a very collaborative relationship with the companies that exhibit at the show.

“We have 2-3 face-to-face meetings with them a year,” Toennies said. “We ask them what they like or don’t like. They bring their own ideas to the table and what they think could be brought to the show.”

The changes to the show have been worth it, with overall feedback ‘positive,’ according to Toennies.

“We are making people understand that a family of four can come and spend a really long time enjoying the show,” she added.

8 Content Ideas for the Screens in Your Trade Show Booth

February 17, 2017
Samuel J. Smith

Samuel J. Smith, the founder of ]]>SocialPoint]]>, is a thought leader, researcher, speaker and award winning innovator on event technology.

If you are like most exhibitors, you have screens, monitors and tablets in your booth … but you aren’t really sure how to best use this powerful digital tech to create more impact.

According to a 2015 white paper Tech for Trade Show Exhibitors from Skyline Exhibits and Access Intelligence, most exhibitors are still putting PowerPoint slides or their own websites on the screen.  

That’s probably because they don’t know how easy it is to create content that will go beyond websites and PowerPoint and generate more leads and sales.

So here are 8 better ways that you can use your screens to draw people into the booth and engage them once they are there:

1.     Video

Video tells a story quickly and with visual impact.  You can have short, splashy videos that get people to stop, and more meaty (but still short) videos you use to demo products or tell client stories when talking to attendees.

2.     Custom App

You can tell your story with a custom build presentation that allows for big visuals and intuitive navigation with apps that let you go beyond PowerPoint, and show visuals in a bigger and faster way than your website.

3.     Games & Contests

Games and contests are a great way to draw people into the booth. These games allow you to break the ice with prospects before you start talking to them about your products and services.  And with the games set up on multiple tablets, you get more and more people into your booth, as a crowd draws a crowd.

4.     Leaderboard

Everyone wants to see their name in lights. Everyone.  When you put the best scoring attendees’ names on a game leaderboards, it drives the competitive spirit of attendees so they want to play your game.  The result?  They come into your booth, play, and deepen their relationship with you.  Some even come back again and again.

5.     Touch Screen Voting

You can feature the best social media images and comments that are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram about the trade show on a touch screen in your booth, and let attendees vote for their favorites.  It’s a visual feast of people and ideas they care about that pulls them in, plus it starts a conversation and creates engagement.

6.     Social Media Wall

Even if attendees don’t vote on their favorite social media of the show, just seeing the most popular images and messages in a big, colorful, constantly moving format pulls them into your trade show booth.  And it makes your company look more tech savvy.

7.     Virtual Prize Wheel

Virtual prize wheels on digital screens are very popular for many reasons:  People like to get gifts, they like to play games, and they are attracted to movement and excitement.   You can offer several different prizes to give people more reasons to play. Best of all? You capture their lead contact data when they start the game.  Talk about win/win!

8.     Demo

For many companies, their products include software and applications that can be demoed on your digital screens.  Guided tours of your product show attendees you can do exactly what you said you can do.  Just consider going with larger screens, so when you demo for one person, more people can see the demo, too.

No matter which of these 8 you choose, we always recommend that our clients make sure that content is BIG and bold.  Stop putting your website (or a PPT presentation) on the screens.  Striking visuals – such as our leaderboard graphics – can pull traffic into your booth from the aisles.  Also, resist the urge to put anything that you can’t read from 10 feet away. People in the aisles can’t see all of that small copy.

Use these digital content ideas to make sure you get the most of the screens in your booth!

German Exhibition Industry: Digitalisation and Data Protection

February 16, 2017
Marco Spinger

Marco Spinger is Director of Global Markets & IT Division of the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA)

Digitalization is nothing yet to come. We are all living in the age of digitalization. We are already embedded, but it should not be considered as an end in itself. The question is: What’s in it for the customers or what’s in it for your own organization?

Digitalization: an important step of development in our industry

As one major economic trend, the influence of digitalization could change and/or create business models, of course also within the trade fair industry. That’s why I would like to address some highlights from the German perspective for an approach to this issue.

When dealing with economic developments, the legal framework is always a regulating factor. Politics usually have the opportunity to influence and set up guard railings. That’s why I don’t want to skip the most important legal aspects absolutely. Anyway, digitalization will be seen as an important step of development in our industry. 

Let me start with an overview of the current digital agenda of most of the AUMA members, those they created already or are working on:

·      websites (in responsive design for mobile use), blogs, social media and newsletters to reach different communities

And apps:

·      digital floor plans

·      digital/flexible signage (on mobile devices and other screens)

·      congress programs

·      online matchmaking

·      exhibitor databases

·      permanent online platforms for industries (so-called product pilot, virtual marketplace)

·      online booking, stand configuration and invoicing for exhibitors

·      online registration and ticketing for visitors

·      tailored press information

·      and more

Exhibitors are testing new technologies, too. For example, with the beacon technology, they send positioning and pushing marketing information to visitors or promoting virtual visits to their production sites. This is all in starting phase and used by early adopters, but we will hear more about that soon.

One more hint: Regarding social media, some experts advise that you have to create the feeling that the trade fair is listening and talking to the exhibitors and visitors. It’s not a traditional one-way channel to promote.

What are challenges and expectations of clients?

The experiences of exhibitors and visitors by using B2C or private online applications cause high expectations regarding availability and quick response. They transfer these experiences into the B2B world with high expectations, although they are aware that these channels often have less traffic and up to now, often less profitability than B2C. The growing digitalization also leads to new customer needs such as broadband and mobile internet for increasing mobile data transfer, for example, for live streaming from trade fairs or other events. If this can be free of charge depends on the different business models in Germany. For these expectations and the before-mentioned trade fair related services, we will have huge data traffic.

The German Government started an initiative with the aim of nationwide availability of broadband infrastructure until 2018. AUMA appreciates any initiative that enables the trade fair industry to supply the new services, but that is not a specific issue for the trade fair industry. It is a question of economic development in general. But measures have already been taken. Working groups or new departments have been installed to find solutions for the new working structures and cultures. For example, mobile flexible working places, especially for teams working worldwide, have been created, which can generate more efficiency in the workflows. AUMA members will work on this more and more.

Legal regulations and data protection in Germany

Of course, the new business models, especially regarding online matchmaking services, have to comply with the European and German regulations. And when it comes to personal data of visitors and exhibitors, which are the valuable data, we have a high standard of protection. Basic rules are the need of so-called explicit consent, which means that exhibitors and visitors agree upon the collection, the use, and storage of their data, and they have the right to withdraw it. 

Besides a lot of formalities, the management of storing a large number of consents can be a challenge. And this even more, since we have to take into account that the databases have to be unlimited in time and number of consents. But the clarifying of legal and technical questions can be worthwhile. The following questions should serve as a guidance:

1.     What kind of data do you have?

2.     How is the quality of your data?

3.     How can you analyze the data and what potential applications or business models are you able to create?

Making the data accessible to different user groups, not only technical specialists, opens up the opportunity for them to identify their hot leads. Thus, the marketing department could spend its budget more target-oriented or the IT department could more analytically optimize the data quality. So, this is what it could mean to make the big data concept useful for the trade show industry.

For our international business, the advantages of the worldwide web are very useful. Sometimes we want to send information on customers or potential customers to our subsidies and representatives overseas. Or we would like to use U.S.-based IT firms to analyze or to store data that was collected in the EU. But this is regulated. In general, it is forbidden. That is why the European Commission tried to solve this problem by declaring the U.S. as a “safe harbor” for personal data.

Meanwhile, the European Court of Justice decided that the U.S. does not have a sufficient level of data protection, so the Commission negotiated with the U.S. a new “privacy shield agreement.” The EU decided in July 2016 that the regulations ensure an adequate level of data protection for data transfer with the US. Arguments were establishing an ombudsman to handle complaints and defining criteria for governmental access to data. Nevertheless, some U.S. companies already built up server capacities within the European Union under the EU law to avoid legal uncertainties.

We have the advantage that we have one level playing field regarding personal data protection within the EU, and at the same time, we have the disadvantage that we don’t have one level playing field for the most important economic partners outside the EU, for example, China and Russia.

Good news: face-to-face is gaining importance

After all these challenges and formalities, I would like to end with a good message: More and more companies that started their businesses online have been convinced by the advantages of face-to-face. If selling glasses, sportswear, or muesli, you can see in our city centers famous online brands marketing their products in real stores, so there seems to be some truth in the quality of face-to-face contacts. The combination of online and offline is another trend, which should be mentioned in the discussion of digitalization.

As a trade show and IT professional put it: “Face-to-face will remain important if not increase as trust will be the main driver for doing business. However, face-to-face will be supported by


I truly believe that trade fairs and online media are not polar opposites, and there remain functions of trade fairs where online media have their limits. For example:

·      The physical show floor enables a real three-dimensional experience.

·      The multi-sensory factor is a real advantage for consumer shows and also for investment goods shows. Because seeing, touching, and smelling is essential for a food show and even for a construction machines fair, it really makes sense for the buyer to grasp the dimensions of the vehicle in reality. At the end of the day, all buyers are human beings.

·      The mentioned aspects also touch the factor of product testing and brand experience. Last but not least, only personal negotiations can create trust and trade fairs are a very good starting point for personal negotiations.

Good old news for trade show business! This does not mean that the trade fair industry should slow down on their digitalization efforts. Online and offline communication are two sides of the same medal: creating business opportunities.

Success in the Digital Revolution: Lessons from PCMA Convening Leaders

February 16, 2017
Wendi Sabo

As VP, AV Brand Marketing, Wendi Sabo is responsible for providing the oversight, vision, and direction for the Freeman audio visual brands. For more brand experience insights, visit ]]>]]>


Continuing the digital education, virtual reality officially arrived at the event industry at Convening Leaders. At the already bustling TechCentral, crowds eagerly awaited their turn to wear virtual reality headsets.

A picture may say a thousand words, but the looks on participants’ faces after a virtual reality demo told a thousand experiences. When applied to brand experiences, virtual reality will allow planners to take simulated tours of a site or explore how various design approaches look in a specific space. Marketers can employ the technology to show how their product or service works in the home or workplace, as well as create memorable experiences on an expo floor. 

Other cool tech on display included interactive holograms and the next generation of LED walls, touch screens, and signage, as well as leading-edge tracking and measuring tech like beacons. And let’s not forget the exhibition of the latest event apps, software, and niche social media. 

Experience before brand is the new normal

Another prevailing theme at Convening Leaders? People are more interested in an experience than an event. The age of the experience has begun.

At the “Predictions Event Professionals Need to Know” panel, Freeman CEO Joe Popolo talked about the reality that marketers are defunding everything but digital and live events. Successful event professionals will meet their audiences in that happy and customized middle of digital and live events. Popolo called this new paradigm “face-to-face marketing 2.0.”

That concept was illustrated by Freeman speaker and AV guru Mike Wohlitz during a session on budgeting, highlighting the 30 percent higher retention of information when mobile devices are part of a presentation. Gone are the days when participants are asked to turn off their mobile devices; now, marketers should encourage the use of mobile devices for social broadcasting, recording, interacting, or anything they want.

Beyond the innovative ideas and technologies on display, Convening Leaders was brimming with useful sessions on all topics in the brand experience category — from rebranding to maximizing ROI, show floor strategy to attracting talent, and everything in between. This comprised several dozens of labs, workshops, and even wellness sessions and a walking competition. In fact, corridors were often filled with meditating and stretching attendees, a Zen counterpoint to the digital integration people experience daily.

Highlighting the importance of extending the experience after hours, the event offered a number of entertaining special events for attendees outside the informative and educational sessions. Many social gatherings were held throughout the Austin Convention Center and beyond. And without a doubt, the closing party at the nearby Austin American-Statesman, an old newspaper warehouse-turned-venue, was unforgettable — complete with an outdoor performance by the timeless Texan Willie Nelson. 

Creating spaces for maximum engagement

It’s well known that PCMA truly understands the power of experience design and how spaces best suit audiences in brand experiences of all sizes and scopes. Therefore, Convening Leaders was a living case study of tapping into space for best attendee engagement, a supercharged event feng hui if you will.

A prime example was at the opening sessions, where the staging and seating were diagonal to the auditorium, creating more access points and a unique feel to the event. This effect was accentuated by lighted trusses that arched from the stage and ended at the back rows; and also drew attention to the speakers while generating a sense of intimacy. Add to this design three large, mobile LED screens and four projection screens behind the stage, always populated with content, and the crowds were captivated and relaxed at the same time during sessions.

Convening Leaders would continue to play with space throughout the conference, taking advantage of the immense Austin Convention Center. At locations like the Design Lab, Experience Insights Lab, or TechCentral, sessions started alongside product displays or casual seating areas. But this didn’t disrupt presentations at all since wireless headphones were available for audiences. In other sessions, a variety of tables, chairs, and couches were set in between stages and seat rows, allowing attendees a personalized choice of how they would interact with a speaker.

What’s more, the convention center was teeming with casual lounges of different décor and atmosphere, including the always-packed Braindates lounge where like-minded attendees could meet up. The Overflow Lounge streamed content for any overcapacity sessions, while live streaming was available to remote audiences as far away as Asia. No one interested would be left out at Convening Leaders.

The key to good content

Content fuels the internet as much as it fuels experiences. Using the right content for the right audiences was another prevalent theme at many sessions. One of the most engrossing sessions on content came from Sourabh Kothari, founder and CEO of He explained that content is defined as the heart of what a brand experience is trying to convey. The event is just the packaging. Thus, experiences need to be designed for content, and not vice versa.

How do you create good content? Per Kothari, it’s simple: imagine the audience owns the content. Marketers are just there to package and deliver the content. Content stops working when the audience stops owning it.

Several thought leaders emphasized that all event professionals should consider themselves as content producers, not just at events but throughout the year.

Embracing the future with the tools of today

This year’s Convening Leaders ended with a touching presentation by former child actor, Supreme Court clerk, and entrepreneur Isaac Lidsky. He shared his story of overcoming blindness as a teen and becoming a unique success story in business and community. One of his main points was that we must never replace the unknown with fear, or we will live in an inner darkness. Instead of worrying about the future, we must do what we can today with the tools available to us to move forward.

As highlighted at Convening Leaders, the tools to do what’s best for attendees — and the brand experience category — are within reach today. You could almost hear the voice of Matthew McConaughey throughout the conference saying, “Alright, alright, alright.”

Association of Equipment Manufacturers Teams with Massive National Farm Machinery Show

February 15, 2017
Rachel Wimberly

Rachel Wimberly is president and editor-in-chief of Trade Show News Network. Follow her on Twitter – TSNN_Rachel.

In a joint announcement on the showfloor of the 52nd annual National Farm Machinery Show, Kentucky State Fair Board CEO Jason Rittenberry and Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater, shared with exhibitors and attendees that the two organizations have a verbal agreement on a future collaboration.

NFMS currently is running Feb. 15-18 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

Beginning with the 2018 show, AEM will assist with management and co-production of the show, as well as have an equity position in the future growth of the show. 

“Every year, hundreds of exhibitors are wait-listed for America’s largest indoor farm show,” said Kentucky State Fair Board President and CEO Jason Rittenberry.  

He added, “This partnership will bring new opportunities for current and future exhibitors, and expand the experience for our attendees.”

NFMS contributes $20.1 million in economic impact to the Commonwealth each year, and is owned and produced by the Kentucky State Fair Board.

“This is a first step in a partnership that will benefit all the stakeholders in the National Farm Machinery Show and the Ag industry,” said Dennis Slater, president of AEM.

He added, “AEM’s commitment to its core services like public policy and our success in leading tradeshows, naturally lends itself to our new partnership with the Kentucky Fair Board and the National Farm Machinery Show.”

The NFMS brings manufacturers and their customers face-to-face to connect, talk shop, share ideas and join voices on the issues that affect everyone in the agriculture industry.

Slater noted that this endeavor will allow more facets of the Ag industry to more easily work together to advance and strengthen the agriculture sector for the benefit of all.

AEM holds ICUEE – The Intl. Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition at the Kentucky Exposition Center, which draws nearly 11,000 attendees to a 1.2 million net square foot showfloor.

UFI Announces 2017 Next Generation Leadership Grant Program

February 14, 2017

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has launched its 2017 Next Generation Leadership (NGL) grant and is inviting talented events professionals from around the world to apply.

UFI will award grants to up to five future leaders who have shown exceptional initiative in driving change and innovation in their area of the exhibition industry.

Together, the winners will investigate the future of exhibitions, working closely with the team at UFI headquarters in Paris. They will present their findings in a special session at the 84th UFI Global Congress in Johannesburg (South Africa) – the world exhibition industry’s leading annual global event.

“UFI’s NGL grant is all about promoting the talent we have in the exhibition industry – and giving our best rising professionals the international recognition and opportunities they deserve,” said UFI Managing Director Kai Hattendorf.

He added, “When UFI set up the NGL scheme last year it generated enormous global interest. It is exciting to drive this project forward as it facilitates the dialogue between the generations.

Last year’s inaugural NGL competition attracted applications from 16 countries. Chaired by UFI President Sergey Alexeev, the international jury selected five winners: Adeline Larroque Desages, Qatar Tourism Authority (Qatar); Jennifer Feeney, Freeman XP (US); Vineet Mahajan, Reed India (India); Farokh Shahabi Nezhad, Eventbox (Iran); and Matthias Pollmann, Koelnmesse (Germany).

In a  session at the UFI Global Congress in Shanghai in November, all five 2016 NGL winners set out their visions for the future, drawing an audience of more than 400 high-ranking exhibition professionals.

The 2017 NGL grant is open to anyone who works full-time in the exhibition industry, and has done so for no more than 10 years.

The grant includes:

• global recognition among exhibition professionals before, during and after the UFI Global Congress;

• opportunity to enhance network with peers and industry leaders worldwide;

• interviews in exhibition industry media;

• expert guidance throughout the project.

The grant covers travel and accommodation to take part in the UFI European Conference in Cologne (Germany) May 10-12 and the UFI Global Congress Nov. 1-4. 

Applications are open until 26 March 2017. More information is ]]>available online]]>.

Largest Anime Streaming Service Crunchyroll Gears Up to Launch First Convention

February 13, 2017
Lisa Plummer Savas

Lisa Plummer Savas is Content & Marketing Editor for TSNN. 

As the leading global destination and online streaming platform for Japanese anime and East Asian media, Crunchyroll is about to take its first foray into the event world with the launch of Crunchyroll Expo.

Scheduled Aug. 25-27 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif., the new event will offer everything ardent fans have come to expect from the popular brand wrapped into three jam-packed days of anime, manga, games and cosplay, as well as unique exhibits, immersive activations and guest appearances by some of the biggest personalities in Japan and the U.S.

Crunchyroll Expo also will feature a host of special events, premieres and interactive features focused around anime pop culture, including the latest content coming out of Japan and ways for fans to connect and share their passion for anime.

In addition to anime, the event will bring together key partners, exhibitors and influencers from the video game, manga and cosplay worlds. 

“Crunchyroll has always invested in anime conventions,” said Dallas Middaugh, head of events at Crunchyroll. “It’s the best way to interact with our biggest fans, and with Crunchyroll Expo, we’re taking the best aspects of con-life and going next-level.”

He continued, “Crunchyroll has a special relationship with our fans and we’re uniquely positioned to give back to those fans with an incredible experience.”

With more than 1 million paid subscribers, 20 million registered users and 800 titles, Crunchyroll is the largest online provider of Japanese anime and Asian media, with fans spending billions of minutes per month on the platform viewing anime content, enjoying manga, participating in discussions and catching up on the latest Japanese pop culture news.

Crunchyroll has tapped LeftField Media to produce and manage the show, which plans to take full advantage of the SCCC’s 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, as well as its conference facilities for panels, premieres, screenings and special events.

“Our team has built pop culture events around the world and our goal with all of them is to create an environment where fans can be themselves and bond with others over shared enthusiasm,” said Greg Topalian, president and founder of LeftField Media, which is owned by Topalian and Clarion Events.

He continued, “We bring this same goal to what we’re helping to create at Crunchyroll Expo. By combining our planning expertise with Crunchyroll’s anime knowledge, we know we’ll create something anime fans will be excited about for years to come.”

LeftField’s growing portfolio of contemporary culture-themed events include Play Fair, a family-focused celebration of toys and play built with the Toy Industry Association; Awesome Con, Washington D.C.’s Comic Con; Anime NYC, a Japanese pop culture festival presented by Crunchyroll; AXPONA, a hi-fi audio convention in partnership with JD Events; The Classic Auto Show, a classic and vintage auto show launched in Los Angeles; Rose City Comic Con, Portland, Oregon’s premier pop-culture event, and Five Points Festival, a designer toy, comic and counterculture convention held annually in New York City.

GES Closes Out 2017 with 8-percent Revenue Uptick

February 12, 2017
Rachel Wimberly

Rachel Wimberly is president and editor-in-chief of Trade Show News Network. Follow her on Twitter – TSNN_Rachel.

Global Experience Specialists had a good 2017, with the division of the parent company Viad closing out the year with $1,054.7 billion in revenues, compared with $976.9 million in 2015 – an 8-percent uptick.

Fourth-quarter revenues also saw a slight increase, up to $246.2 million from $244.5 million during the same time period in 2015, a 0.7-percent increase.

“GES delivered solid fourth quarter results to finish the year in line with our prior guidance,” said Steve Moster, Viad president and CEO.

He added, “For the full year, positive show rotation, continued underlying business strength and the acquisition of leading audio-visual services provider ON Services helped to drive top-line growth of 8.0 percent and margin expansion of 200 basis points.”

As a result of several acquisition in the past few years, including ON Services, Moster said GES now is able to cross sell multiple services, such as general service contracting, AV, housing and registration.

The recent SIA Snow Show, he added, was a “great example of a full-service offering.” For the first time at the January show, it utilized GES as a GSC, as well for AV, housing and registration.

Moster said a lot of GES’ clients wanted to have a single provider across multiple platforms.

“They also are looking for data and analytics,” he added. Having a single provider streamlines the data process, since all if it is collected and then funnelled in seamlessly.

Moster said the company is looking to expand even further, especially in the AV and event technology spaces.

“We are very interested in event technologies or AV technologies that really enhance the experience,” he added. “We are looking for things that draw people in and get them engaged with content.”

Moster said they were “thrilled” with the acquisition of On Services. “We are playing in a $2 billion market,” he added.

For 2017, On Services is forecasted to bring in between $76-79 million, meaning there is a lot of room for even more growth in the future, Moster said.

This year’s show schedule is starting off strong as well, with the No. 1 trade show on the TSNN Top 250 in years that it runs, CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE, taking over the Las Vegas Convention Center in March.

In addition, the International Paris Air Show will hit the skies June 19-25 and SIBOS will be opening in Toronto Oct. 16-19.

“I am very proud of the team’s accomplishments in 2016 and we enter 2017 with a healthy sales pipeline and favorable industry conditions, which position us for continued growth,” Moster said.

He added, “We’re firing on all cylinders, and we’re very excited about it. We’ve got more to come.”

IAEE’s Expo! Expo! Will Head to Louisville in 2020

February 10, 2017

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the association for the exhibitions and events industry, has chosen Louisville as its host destination in December of 2020.

This will be the first time this large industry event is held in Louisville and will utilize the expanded convention center and downtown hotel properties.

IAEE’s annual meeting and exhibition, Expo! Expo!, is considered “a trade show for trade show professionals.”

This annual event brings upwards of 2,500 exhibition professionals together – 60 percent exhibition organizers and 40 percent suppliers – to exchange information and products regarding the latest industry trends and technology.

“We are extremely pleased to bring Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to Louisville in 2020. There is much growth and excitement in this region for our industry as reflected by the formation of IAEE’s newest chapter, the Mid-South Chapter, which encompasses Kentucky, Ohio, parts of Indiana and parts of Tennessee,” said IAEE president and CEO, David DuBois, CMP, CAE, CTA, FASAE.

He added, “Being able to explore the new convention center, as well as all the other incentives being developed by the Louisville CVB, is something IAEE members can look forward to and Expo! Expo! is the perfect opportunity for it.”

The show will take place at the Kentucky International Convention Center and will have the Omni Louisville (opening in 2018) and Louisville Marriott Downtown as host hotels.

The Expo! Expo! is projected to have an economic impact of $2.5 million throughout the city of Louisville.

“We are honored to be chosen for IAEE’s Expo! Expo! in 2020 and we would not be able to do this without the immense transformation going on in our downtown. We will truly be able to show this group of exhibition professionals the best our city has to offer,” said Karen Williams, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The expansion of the Kentucky International Convention Center will feature 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 40,000 square foot ballroom, increasing the city’s meeting and convention possibilities by 25 percent.

Prior to Louisville, Expo! Expo! will be hosted in San Antonio, Las Vegas and New Orleans.