Why you should attend the trade shows you plan

Whether you’re an independent event planner or a trade show manager for a company, here are 10 reasons why you should attend at least some of the trade shows you plan – especially the big ones.

  1. To ensure consistency in your client company’s overall trade show participation you need to be on-site to make sure what you expect to happen actually happens.
  2. For larger, more important shows, to ensure the success by being there to monitor labor, your vendors and your client’s own exhibit staff.
  3. To take care of any issues (and there are always issues) quickly and efficiently using the experience and expertise that you bring to your role and that would not be there if you were not there.
  4. You do not need to be at every show, especially all of the small table-tops and 10x10s but you should drop in on at least a few of those per year to make sure the trade show “kit” you send out is working the way you expect it to.
  5. Your ability to evaluate and improve your client’s entire trade show program is dependent upon you being on-site a fair amount of the time. No amount of phone calls, emails, or surveys from your client’s exhibit staffs and your trade show vendors are as unfiltered as you being there observing and evaluating so you can tweak the program to make it better.
  6. Relationships matter and being on-site will allow you to build even better relationships with your client’s own people (your exhibit staff), the on-site vendors, show management, other exhibitors and even some of the attendees.
  7. By being on-site and talking with other event and trade show managers, you can exchange ideas on best practices, obtain referrals for vendors, and discover new and effective exhibit designs, messaging, activities, etc.
  8. Being on-site will help ensure the best performance out of the exhibit staffs. You know that some of them slack off when no one from the office is in attendance. And the staff’s performance is the most important factor in the success of the shows. The exhibit staff doesn’t work for you, but you need their cooperation. Being on-site with them and working with them will help them understand their role and huge impact they can make.
  9. Managing your client’s trade shows is your job. To just hope that everything goes as planned means you almost have to entirely rely on other people who are on-site. And anyone who know anything about trade shows knows that anything can go wrong and knowing how to fix it, or work around it, or implement your Plan B or Plan C, can best be done by you when you’re on-site. To think that your client’s evaluation of your performance is going to be judged by the success of the trade shows and you don’t even get to be there is not fair and not reasonable.
  10. Wanting to be on-site for key trade shows and a few of the smaller ones is what I have seen to be standard practice from my hundreds of clients over the past 25 years. Most companies want the trade show manager to be on-site. Trade shows are the public face of your client and should be treated with the respect they deserve. That includes the person with the knowledge and experience to be there to make the your company is represented as best as possible. Build the expense for being on-site into your contracts.

Matt Hill

Matt Hill has been speaking and training since 1983. He specializes in making his clients more effective with their face-to-face interpersonal skills. He has trained over 50,000 people in the U.S. and around the world. Matt lives in San Jose, CA with his wife, Lynn. They have three children; a daughter living in Boston, a son in grad school at CalPoly San Luis Obispo, and another daughter in at Chico St. University. If you’re ever in San Jose and want to take a mountain bike ride or play some tennis, call him.

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