Exhibitor Show: Yeses and No’s

Afterword: For the first time ever in blogging the last 3-plus years, I’m eating some crow with a side of humble pie! I spoke with exhibitors and forgot to fact check. My sincere apologies to The Exhibitor Show who, in fact, don’t have education during show hours except for a “strategic partner day” two-hour period the middle day of the expo.  My thanks to those folks who wrote and corrected me! On the subject of exhibit hall and education hours remaining separate, I remain an advocate. – SS

This week I attended The Exhibitor Show, it’s an expo and conference for exhibitors held annually in Las Vegas. Plenty of great exhibit eye candy and lots of technology, plus seven different tracks of education over five days.

Things I liked:

• They do a great job trying to connect their community. One of my favorites is “Dinner with Strangers.” An electronic board lists eight to 10 restaurants with different cuisines and price points. When an attendee touches a restaurant name, the next screen includes the average cost of dinner plus the names and companies of those who have signed up thus far. You just add your name, show up at the restaurant at the appointed time, have dinner with a bunch of people you don’t know—but share common interests with—and pay your own tab.

Sometimes Exhibitor is on the hook for no-shows, but apparently it doesn’t happen too often. Usually the dinners each night sell out.

What a great idea for those new to your show, as well as those traveling solo!

• Also loved Exhibitor’s Community Square, which included registration, show management office, bookstore (with signings) and a digital new product showcase. Two things of note:

1) A charging station with lockers. You connect your phone or tablet to the correct plug, close the door and lock it with a number combo. Come back in half an hour or so and voila! You didn’t have to stand there watching your device charge, which we all know takes forever.

2) Lounging couches with folding tables and chargers located below each seat. The tables were a great size for your computer or tablet—plus one can charge portable devices while sitting and working, or chatting with others.

Having lots of available charging stations and outlets makes sense in today’s connectivity driven world. Everywhere.

Thing I didn’t like:

• Concurrent sessions while the showfloor was open. As I’ve said before, I think this scenario is a lose-lose. It’s a lose for the exhibitors who feel like they have hardly any traffic, and a lose for the attendees who have to chose between education and seeing cool tools and innovations on the show floor.

Dedicated show hours—and I’m not talking about one hour here, one hour there, that includes a meal being served buffet style on the exhibit floor (beyond lame!)—is key to the success of your exhibitors—who, frankly, pay most of the bill for your event.

Exhibitor isn’t the only show guilty of the concurrent exhibit hours-education nonsense. It happens in both small and large shows, but is far more noticeable in small and medium-sized shows. In fact, my brother was exhibiting at an event (also this week in Las Vegas) at a hotel and he mentioned how much exhibitors hate concurrent sessions-exhibit floor hours and what a rip-off they are to those exhibiting. Don’t make your exhibitors waste their time on the showfloor when no one is there and they could be doing a myriad of other things (working, seeing clients, etc.).

Don’t make your attendees choose education over innovation.

But do make sure you have plenty of connectivity—everywhere.

Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter at @stephselesnick.

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Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter @stephselesnick.  ... View all articles by Stephanie Selesnick →