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Monday, April 4, 2016

A Unique Perspective on Exhibitor Live 2016

All the hubbub from Exhibitor Live 2016 is starting to die down thankfully.   You may be wondering, what is Exhibitor Live?  Just like every major industry there are trade shows.  This is the trade show for the trade show industry.  Imagine all the exhibit providers, designers, graphic providers, trinket providers, video, av and more in one place.  It can be very overwhelming.

Industry veterans love going to connect with their partners, their clients and to research and seek out trends in the industry.  We go every year for those very reasons and we always enjoy it.   We don't exhibit at this event.  We are actually a prospect or customer for many of the exhibitors.  We are a competitor of some.

A large majority of the attendees are actually in the trade show industry as a provider of some sort.

Now before I get into the orange tags, a few facts.   I actually grumble about going every year.  I don't want to take the time away from family and from our business.  I don't want to spend the money (I am frugal, not cheap), but every year I go and many great things happen.  This year we built a relationship with a new provider about which are very excited.  We are about to become a distributor for a brand new product in the United States.  Unbelievably excited about this.  We had dinner with some of our favorite people, drinks with many others and got to see friends and partners that we have known for many years.  This is not an opening for anyone to say, "I told you so."

Now we get to the coveted orange name tags.  I say coveted because every exhibitor is watching for those orange tags.  An orange name tag indicates that the attendee is an exhibit buyer.  So these are end users that are interested in learning more and are possibly looking to buy an exhibit, services or other accessories that the exhibitors at this show provide.  I actually just read a blog post from someone that had been to Exhibitor Live for 23 years.  She ran into someone in an elevator with an orange tag that she chatted with and they became a prospect.  Not a criticism, just an observation.  Nearly everyone at Exhibitor Live that doesn't have an orange tag is looking for the orange tags!

Many years we have brought clients to this show and walked the show with them, looked for ideas, introduced them to our strategic partners and spent time with them.

This year we had the unique opportunity to walk the show with a prospect.  This company is making a decision in the next month on a large custom island booth with audio visual.   They have not yet selected us to build their booth.  Maybe my perspective was different this year.  Maybe that made the dance different.

There were some unique things that really surprised me this year while walking the show with this prospect.
  • One of our competitors for this prospect registered the company for the show under the exhibit house name.  So they had the coveted orange tag but they had a well known exhibit house listed as a company name.
Let's talk about this one a bit.  Interesting concept right?  If they are scanned, they don't get scanned with their actual company name.  Could this exhibit house be afraid of other display houses talking to what they consider as their prospect?  I am not afraid of competition.  You can't win every deal but if you fear you competition you will lose more frequently.  But that is a discussion for another post.
  • While walking the show floor with them I was amazed (appalled) at the vultures.  I mean seriously people almost tripped our prospect to get to them.   Even if we were in the aisle having a conversation with them, people would approach our prospect quite aggressively.  Of course the ultimate prize was to scan them.  
Image result for vultures attacking
But I guess the joke was on them when the company name was actually another exhibit house.  I am surprised by the aggressiveness of the exhibitors.  I thought we were supposed to be the professionals in this industry, the leaders, the role models?
  • One of our suppliers had a booth directly across the aisle from a competitor.   After booth set up was complete our supplier left the show floor.  When he returned to their booth he found the competitor had taken some graphics off the back of their frame and they were looking at the frame.  
Just an interesting bit of trivia.  The same company that registered a prospect with their exhibit house name is the same company that was taking apart a competitors booth.   Please do not guess who it was as a comment on this post.  I won't disparage a competitor like that.

Am I the only one that finds these behaviors disturbing?

If you have read any of my posts, I believe in business with integrity and honesty.  We may get beat by someone that is dishonest but I can guarantee they won't keep that relationship for 25 years like we have with many of our clients.

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Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years.  She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients.  Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David.  They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers.  If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com.  Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/

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