Weekly News & Insights: More Trailblazer Ideas & How to Become One

Photo: Freeimages.com/Thoursie

Photo: Freeimages.com/Thoursie

Recently I shared ideas from several trailblazing shows that truly understand how to innovate for the benefit of both exhibitors and attendees. This week we’re spotlighting even more shows and giving you resources to guide your show to become a trailblazer as well.

  • At the SIA Snow Show, organizers recognized that there were a lot of smaller brands who couldn’t afford to have a booth of their own. So they created a special section on the show floor to highlight emerging “boutique” brands. Twelve brands were allowed to each display a couple of their products in one large space, called CRAFT @SIA. The spotlighted companies received a lot of support from show management and garnered media attention. Participating companies were very pleased with the results, with most choosing to sign on again and a few upgrading to a full booth of their own.

This idea seems so basic, it’s amazing that more shows aren’t offering a similar option. It doesn’t take up a lot of floor space, yet offers the opportunity to build relationships with up-and-coming brands and shows attendees that your show is on the cutting edge of who’s who in your industry.

  • The National Hardware Show is seeing so much growth that they’re looking to expand next year. Part of that success is due to innovations like hosting daily opening ceremonies which feature a different category of exhibitors each day. In addition, there’s a product review area on the show floor where manufacturers can receive feedback from attendees on new products. They also overhauled their show app with a new GPS feature to help attendees find their way around the show floor and receive special deals when they approach certain exhibits.

This should serve as an example that innovation doesn’t always have to be revolutionary – simply listen to what attendees want and find ways to connect them to the exhibitors who have what they want.

And speaking of show apps … for those who attend lots of shows each year, it may be hard to believe but a new survey shows that 42 percent of conferences and trade shows have never used an app for their event. Not only are they missing out on a great opportunity for the week of the event, but also for continued conversations, since 78 percent of those surveyed use the app after the show closes.

Every show has two audiences – exhibitors and attendees – and both need to find their needs met in order to come back year after year. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has released a report that examines reasons why attendees decide not to attend an event. Top reasons include inconvenient location, expense, and inconvenient days of the event. While these may at first appear to be circumstances that can’t be overcome for every attendee, it should serve as a lesson to pay attention when the objections become common. At the recent Exhibition & Convention Executives Forum in Washington, D.C., Greg Topalian from Reed Exhibitions spoke on how to turn attendees into fans and turn “disrupters” into opportunities. By comparing trade shows to the recent downfall of Blockbuster Video stores over late fee charges, he challenged show producers to rethink the exhibitor experience and how it can be improved. For more insights from the Forum, check out this article on TSNN.

And if you want ideas for creating more customized and engaging experiences, FreemanXP has a free report you can download, along with the Freeman Connections Index, an assessment tool you can use for your events.

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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