EXHIBITOR2012Last week I attended Exhibitor Magazine’s Exhibitor 2012 show in Las Vegas. For those that aren’t familiar, this show consists of two parts: a showcase of products by manufacturers and suppliers to the trade show industry, and educational sessions to aide those with careers centered around trade show and event marketing. I’ll give you some of the key takeaways I had from the sessions that I attended, and then share some trends in the trade show industry.

The Sessions

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working towards my CTSM (Certified Trade Show Marketer) certification. So took six courses that were required for this certification while I was at the show. The biggest overall takeaway, which is no surprise, is that measurement and tracking is HUGE for this industry. Read some of the course titles that I took this year (click for more detail):

-Using Target Audience Profiles to Create Memorable Events that Drive Results

-Using Surveys to Measure Your Performance in Trade Shows and Events

-Basic Project Management and Reporting Skills

-The Nuts and Bolts of Budgeting for Results

-Selecting the Right Shows: The Critical Decision

With the large amount of resources companies are dedicating to trade shows, return on investment and return on objectives need to be justified. And though everyone working on these shows feels the pressure to perform, not many take the time to report the outcome of their efforts, good or bad. These courses are great for showing what and how to measure. They also will provide templates to help you get started if you don’t already have your own system. One thing I’ve noticed through observation, is that it does not matter whether the company you work for generates billions of dollars or it is a low revenue start up, every dollar counts and is counted. Those who measure, track and support thoroughly and accurately will shine.

I’m happy to share what I’ve learned or point you in the direction of the experts if you’d like. Of course, the best thing is to start taking these courses (both live and online are offered).

The Trade Show

I noticed a few overlying trends from walking the show this year:

SEG is everywhere – SEG (Silicon-Edge Graphics) are being utilized by just about every exhibit hardware manufacturer. Now pole-pockets and Velcro are being substituted for a strip of silicon stitched around the perimeter of fabric graphics. This silicon edge is pushed into aluminum framing to create a perfectly tensioned fabric graphic. To learn more about SEG and how to use it, please view this PDF What_Is_SEG.

Lighting is key – LED lights offer clean bright light from small bulbs. This has gotten exhibit manufacturers coming out with many back-lit exhibits, as it is simpler to hide the lights in the extrusion and still get a good throw. When executed properly it does make graphics stand out and exhibits overall more attractive to show attendees.

In addition to back-lighting I also saw traditional down-lighting, up-lighting, side-lighting and color changing lights.

Technology is advancing lead retrieval – The iPad has become commonplace now in exhibits. With that, comes many cool ways to incorporate the iPad within an exhibit, and now, new software to help utilize them at shows. There were a number of suppliers showing how to use an iPad to take badge scanning a step further. Things like, immediately uploading the data into a cloud server, sending an email with relevant attachments and taking notes on that attendee to be able to follow up.

The show and sessions were very informative and I would recommend attending next year if your career has you involved in trade show or event management. If you know you will not be able to attend, talk to your exhibit house. I know that our company utilizes this show to be able to bring back information to our clients on leading edge products, and to pass along the beneficial knowledge we gain from the sessions.

Author: Chase Howells

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