Trade Show Tip Thursday: 5 Must haves for your Conference & Trade Show

1: Easy to navigate website:  I cannot stress this enough. Attending 700+ trade events per year gives us a little bit of knowledge on this topic.

Website’s Front page:

  1. 1. Big Honking Registration button
  2. 2. Search feature (try google’s – it’s free)
  3. 3. Brief UPDATED description of what your current show offers. No one cares that in 2013 40K people attended – save that for your exhibitor’s page.
  4. 4. Link to What’s new for 20xx (pick a year this advice is timeless)
  5. 5. Clear navigation tools

2. PR in Advance- aka Social Media: Set up your twitter # (hashtag)  at least 3 months in advance & put it in your twitter description. Make it simple like #ShowNameYear Set up your 4Sq – I cannot tell you how many shows overlook this tool. It is invaluable to finding who else is attending that might be a good cross match to both your attendees & exhibitors. Same with Instagram. If you don’t have a trade show account, get one then encourage all your exhibitors and attendees to post their photos with the present up # (that is the SAME as your twitter one- can’t believe i have to write that)

3.  Badge Pick up vs Onsite Registration:  The advantage of registering prior to the show is to make it faster from the badge pick up to the show/conference floor. It should not include having to show 30 pieces of ID in order to retrieve your badge. It’s like voter registration: less than 1% of people will be fraudulently trying to to attend your show. Make it easy for those who do. (I’m looking at you #CONExpo – 2 hour wait, lines back up to the street – not a good start) Speaking of badges. Even the most technical show should have a trade show only options. Especially if you are in a large market venue like Orlando, New York or Las Vegas. If it’s a medical conference – sometimes the staff of a practice can benefit from just attending the trade show but not at 1K per head. Or maybe someone is thinking of getting into a career in aviation. What better way to find out what opportunities are available than attending the trade show.

4. New Product Showcase:  How hard is it to carve a space out on your trade show floor, upcharge your exhibitors a set amount and post a list of participants with new products on your website? Not hard at all and worth it to both attendees who are looking to expand or upgrade their lines and for exhibitors looking for new clients. Win-Win. And event management looks like a champ!

5.  Social Meetup:  No matter what your business is, there is always a need for personal engagement. Sometimes a conference and trade show are the only interaction many companies have with their peers. Sure everyone has a group breakfast or dinner but it always includes a speaker and/or presentations/awards. Not much time to meet & greet. So why not offer a ‘tweet-up‘ on the show floor. Like the new product showcase, you can carve out 100 feet – put a couple of chairs there and at 4pm or 10am or 2pm have a daily “Tweet & meet.” One of the best peer to peer engagements we’ve ever seen or been to is at the annual Exhibitor’s Expo. they have a big white board called Dinner with Strangers. Every night they have a dozen or so restaurants & a facilitator who coordinates the dinner. It’s usually limited to 6-10 diners. there is a set menu of $25-35 – and you have dinner with people you don’t know. Its a great way to expand interactions among attendees/vendors and for those who are the sole person from their company or they are new to the industry they don’t have to dine alone.  At the NAB show, TWIT-Tv sponsors a photo walk down the strip. they limit it to 100 participants but every year they pick a different section and stroll along  snapping pictures with their cameras, cell phones & tablets. afterwards they meet up for cocktails and share their adventures.

It is no longer just booking conference space & having a trade show. It’s about engagement pre-during-post show.  Most of these should be intuitive but it is surprising how many conference planners forget they are in the service business and attendees/exhibitors are their customers.

Nashville: American Bus Marketplace – ABA Gallery of Pictures

ABA Nashville

ABA Nashville


1. Buses Inside
2. Opening Ceremony
3. Scavenger Hunt Tour
4. Is that a banana in your pocket? YES!
5. NY Provides Popcorn
6. Booths 101









ABA Nashville

ABA Nashville


7. Atlantic City Booth
8. I LOVE NY Booth
9. Mississippi Blues
10. South Dakota Booth
11. NY Party
12. Speed Networking

Nashville: American Bus Marketplace – ABA

ABA Nashville: ABA Welcome Signs in BNA

ABA Nashville: ABA Welcome Signs in BNA

ABA is the American Bus Association, and they came to Nashville for the American Bus Marketplace. As 331 sponsors were glad to hear, 3500 people attended the show, a new record.  933 motorcoach and tour operators were in attendance, 322 motorcoach and tour operator companies took appointments during the week, fifty more than the previous year.  30 appointments on average were scheduled for each seller, and 2 dozen partners held meetings for their membership or attended Marketplace in recognition of its status as the leading industry show at which to conduct people-transportation-related business.  The networking floor offered 12 motorcoaches and 138 exhibitors.  $41,500 was raised for charity Thistle Farms.  ‘Nuff numbers for you, bus people?  No?  That’s all the numbers we got right now.  Okay, all together now: “I’ll stay on the bus, forget about us…”  #ABANashville

ABA Nashville: Lining Up for Expo

ABA Nashville: Lining Up for Expo


Rosemont: Chicago Travel & Adventure Show

The Chicago Travel & Adventure Show is billed as the Mid-West’s largest travel show, with “thousands of vacation options under one roof”.  If you were the type to “explore your cultural side” and enjoy “top chef demos and dance performances that transport you to distant lands”, this was the show for you.  Keynoter Rick Steves gave a glimpse into “Europe Through The Back Door”, showing delegates all the latest on stretching the travel dollar, avoiding crowds, packing smart, and eating and sleeping well.  Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the Frommer Guides, was another keynoter offering “money-saving methods of travel, less usual destinations and ways to tailor your vacation so that it fits your personality”.  Tahiti Tourism North America was there to tell us about “an island paradise just eight hour from Los Angeles but seemingly a world away — closer than you think and easier to travel to then you might imagine”.  Hey, does my butt look big in this grass skirt…?

Miami: ASTA Global

Sept. 16-19, 2013. The ASTA Global Convention brings together all walks of travel professionals for a conference talking to the most influential buyers in the industry. As the leading advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public, ASTA and its members represent 80% of all travel sold by travel agencies in the United States. Retail travel selling, we heard, is undergoing a revolution. The impact is set to be bigger than elimination of commissions, and as important as automation itself. Airlines have been leading the way in changing the way travel is sold, and cruise lines and hotels are beginning to follow.  The traveling public’s ability to shop anonymously and to compare base prices and services will be challenged by this approach. Delegates to ASTAGlobal needed to understand firsthand what is coming and how it will affect the travel industry and its clients.  Hillary Rodham Clinton thought this was important enough to justify turning up to speak…c

Las Vegas: FTE

September 4-6 2013. FTE?  It stands for Future Travel Experience, and it’s a global affair.  This independent global forum for the travel industry focused on the end-to-end travel process from the passenger point of view – from the moment of booking through to the collection of baggage at the arrival destination – and assessed how every aspect of the passenger experience on the ground can be improved. Hosted by McCarran International Airport, one of the most progressive airport authorities in the world, the event delivered a learning and networking platform through workshops, conferences, airport tours, social events, an awards ceremony and a full exhibition program.  Said program was neatly divided into an “On The Ground” section (focused on the latest passenger-facing tech) and an “Up In The Air” section (looking in detail at The Passenger Experience).  Watch out, apparently there’s a new beast up there called the “Me-Centric Passenger”….

San Diego: GBTA

August 4-6, 2013. GBTA is the Global Business Travel Association, and it’s the world’s premier business travel and meetings organization. The Association wields serious spending power: GBTA’s 5,000-plus members manage over $340 billion (yes billion) of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA serves a network of 21,000 business and government travel and meetings managers, as well as the travel service providers who serve them. Breakout sessions were an education, from contract negotiation and financial modeling to safety and sustainability. Other topics discussed ranged from the, well, global — Fundamentals of Business Travel Management — to the particular, for instance a session on Preparing Female Travelers for Safe Trips.  Speaking of females… females were speaking:  the big names included former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, not to mention the acclaimed singer-songwriter Jewel.  When business travel is concerned, you’d be amazed who can turn up in the seat next to you…