Weekly News & Insights: Trailblazing Shows Lead the Way

Photo: Freeimages.com/Thoursie

Photo: Freeimages.com/Thoursie

In any industry, there are companies and individuals who aren’t willing to do things “the way we’ve always done them.” In the trade show world however, it often seems there’s a steeper climb to break out of the same-old, same-old. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are a few shows that are looking beyond what’s always worked to find ways to innovate at recent events:

  • The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show took the New Products Showcase idea to a whole new level with three areas specifically for first-time and featured exhibitors at various locations throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center. Upon entering the Showcase area, attendees get a free scanner so they can scan all the products that interest them. When they return the scanner, they get a printout of product information and how to find the exhibitors they’re interested in. For exhibitors, the first product registered is free, so everyone has a fair shot of being showcased. As a bonus, the area gets lots of media attention and there’s the opportunity to receive a New Product Award.

Is this idea complicated? No. Revolutionary? Not really … it simply takes a long-standing traditional feature and makes it more interactive and useful. Could other shows add this feature? Absolutely!

  • It’s no surprise that the National Association of Broadcasters has a live news studio broadcasting from the show floor. But how they’ve changed it up is that NAB Show Studio 1 is actually in the lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to two live shows per day, there are also recorded clips from the show floor that are broadcast to various “Arcades” around the show. These Arcade areas offer attendees a place to relax and recharge — both themselves and their devices. So what was once a tiny corner of the show floor is a truly multi-purpose area: studio, lounge and charging stations all in one which becomes a destination for attendees. Check out a video tour of the studio and control room on YouTube.

Can every show afford to have a full-blown news studio and control room onsite? Probably not. But virtually any show can find a way to create more engaging lounge areas in locations around the convention center. (Hint: Sponsorship dollars!)

So should every show organizer contact Samsung or some other manufacturer for a sponsorship of tablets for attendees? No. But there’s no reason that companies within your industry couldn’t sponsor the purchase of devices. (Although keep in mind that at some point soon there will be saturation on tablets within your audience, so if you want to implement this idea, now is the time.)

Could any show, in any city make this work? Absolutely! While there are logistics to be considered, the basic concept isn’t that complex.

For more trailblazing ideas, check out this post.

Bottom line: Blazing trails isn’t that difficult. There are many ways to innovate and create engagement, memories, and positive feelings about your show.

Want to learn more about trailblazing shows and their secrets for success? Watch for an upcoming series profiling some of the most successful trade shows and how they got to where they are.

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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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