I thought of one of Mike’s passages as I listened to the back-and-forth outside the exhibit hall of a tradeshow I attended last week. He wrote, paraphrasing the report, “The stark disparity between attendee and exhibitor profiles, between the users and makers of a product, is notable.”
He added, “While exhibitors prepare…by stocking their booths with sales teams (38 percent), upper management (30 percent) and exhibit management (18 percent), not enough, if any, provide access to the creators and developers working with the product or service on a daily basis.”
I thought of this last week as I overheard some of the exhibit booth staffs complaining because of the light aisle traffic and some of the attendees suggesting there was “nothing interesting to see” on the showfloor anyway.
Of course, both sides blamed show management for whatever they weren’t seeing that they wanted.
My thought, which is not an original idea: Sometimes it really is the exhibitor’s responsibility to do something…anything!
For generations, it seems like, show managers have been gently suggesting to exhibitors they do something about the booth staff who are lounging at the back of the booth absorbed by their smartphones (or whatever distraction they had before the advent of mobile technology).
And for decades now, show managers have been gently suggesting to their exhibitors that they—and this is brilliant!—get in touch with some of their best customers in advance and invite them to the show.
As one operations staff member told me the other day, “The ones who really need this kind of advice don’t pay any attention to it.”
So, in some ways this is a discussion in the tradeshow press that is never going to end. Years from now, editors will be talking to exhibitors who complain about aisle traffic and attendees who are bored with exhibit booths.
Still, I think it is more incumbent than ever on the exhibitors to clean up their acts. As I pointed out in a blog post last week, if you want to engage “digital natives,” you’ve got to do work a little harder to do it.
And the time to start doing that is now.
Michael Hart is executive editor of EXPO Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.