February 2002: Volume 44, Number 2
From the Floor to the Podium -- Getting Inside the Trade Show
by Ronald Y. Pérez, WC&P Managing Editor
Seeing as it’s the trade show issue, I felt it might be apropos to hit some of the sites that cover such rituals. These -- the events -- are often held in hangar-like venues that can hold thousands attending a single exhibition, usually over a few days. They often serve as the point of annual revelry for a particular industry/institution. Las Vegas has made a good chunk of change through such gatherings over the years. If you don’t believe me, try booking a major convention hall there without a year’s notice.
Whether as a visitor or an exhibitor, almost all of you have been privy to these functions. As water treatment dealers, you probably attend the Water Quality Association (WQA) national show and perhaps one or two regional shows. Through it all, I’m sure you’ve come across some exhibits that blew you away and some others that just blew… hot air. Maybe you got a brainstorm for your own booth from walking up and down the wide aisles at these shows.
So, in whatever capacity you choose to attend trade shows, we’ve included a website that should suit your interest.
As with many general websites of this nature, the Trade Show News Network version contains a home page that caters to all industries. But that’s why they have search functions. Located near the middle and top of the page (ideal placement), the search allows you two avenues for the desired information. One, you can select by industry. Two, you can enter a word or two of the actual show’s title. Since “Water” is already provided among the choices under industry, this one’s a no-brainer. (FYI, you can also search by city, state or country.)
Once “Water” has been selected, a lovely thing happens. You’re inundated with a long list of water-related shows. One drawback, however, is the lack of a chronological listing. (If you notice, this magazine runs “Upcoming Events” chronologically. Why? Because it’s almost universal in its simplicity). Oh well, some of us enjoy being difficult. Nevertheless, the listings are thorough and complete. For instance, the title of the show is listed first with a hyperlink. Next, it categorizes the show on whether it’s a public show, trade show or a trade show with conference. This is good to know. Next, the listing provides the location of the event as well as the city. Lastly, the dates for the show are listed.
With regard to the hyper-links, they further enhance the site by allowing you to contact the show’s organizer(s) directly. It also gives a physical address. This comes in handy when you’re trying to find the venue for the Aqua Tech show at the Izmir fair. Quick, bonus points if you can tell me where Izmir is located. Time’s up. For those of you who answered Turkey, congratulations, you’ve earned yourself 0.1 CPD toward your WC&P subscription renewal.
Shifting gears from a strictly informational source to a website that assists trade show exhibitors with the latest in services and products. The Trade Group offers a potpourri of “exhibits, graphics, design, digital graphics, point-of-purchase displays, lobby displays, pop-up displays, modular displays, kiosks, permanent displays, creative services, exhibitor staff training seminars and show services.” Other than that, they probably can’t help you. This information is found under one of the main headings -- About The Trade Group -- with the others being Products & Services, Visit Our Showroom, Exhibit Resources, Employment and Contact Us.
The Trade Group is an outfit based out of Carrollton, Texas (a suburb of Dallas…what isn’t?), which gives a close-up view of some of their “booth” setups at Visit Our Showroom. Actually, “booths” doesn’t even begin to describe some of these state-of-the-art designs. Instead, they’re called “exhibits.” Very nice, indeed. Some look like they belong in your local television news studio. Have no fear, renting is also an option.
Under Exhibit Resources, the site provides more practical information that can be used while at the show. Some of these include “Exhibiting Tips,” “Education and Training” seminars, “Trade Show Directories” and “Meeting Industry Publications & Sites.” The tips themselves are broken down in two sub-groups -- pre-show preparation and “during the show.” Some of them are obvious, but it still serves as a good resource. For instance, “Dress for success. Consider an integrated look (with all staffers dressing similarly) possibly in conjunction with your booth.” Think Alamo Water. The site claims the training and seminars are free. I click for more information, and I get nothing. Bad luck, I guess.
Let’s see, we’ve covered finding the shows and making your exhibit look all nice and professional. So, what’s left? Well, if you’re like me, you’re hoping the keynote speaker at the welcome luncheon/dinner is a quick whip. Perhaps he or she will make you laugh once or twice. OK, if you’re still present and awake at the end, the speaker has done their job. Kinda like your high school graduation speech. Does anyone remember what was said there? Anthony Quinn spoke at mine and I still have no idea what he talked about. But I was motivated!
The home page declares that the list of people found at this site contains “the world’s best professional speakers.” So, where’s the first place you naturally go? Pass the list, maestro. I see Dave Barry (funny), William Blades (oh my, he’s written for us… thank me for the plug later, Bill), Zig Ziglar (just like the name), something called the Water Coolers (apparently, some type of comedy/singing troupe) and my personal favorite, The Passing Zone. What’s that? Think two guys juggling chainsaws in Robin Hood gear. Now we’re talking. But I wonder what they’re saying during this slight distraction. It doesn’t matter. That’s enough to keep me tuned in and away from the dessert tray.
In addition, the search function also breaks down speakers via fee ranges
(A-F… I’m not sure if A is more expensive than F or vice versa). This would be good to know when selecting between chainsaw-wielding jugglers or a barbershop quartet, for example. Under world-wide clients, the site boasts some of its more recognizable clientele. Allstate, Dillard’s, GTE, Office Depot… very impressive. And then, the International Association of Auditorium Managers. Huh? It makes me wonder what kind of speaker you line up for them. Luckily, that’s not my job.
As we can see from this brief review of sites, putting on a trade show and succeeding at one, as either an exhibitor or presenter, is more complicated than we might think. A lot of time and effort are given to see that the experience was well worth it so people will come back. Just one more thing to think about as we stroll down the various aisles and sit down at some of the seminars in New Orleans and other venues across the globe. For those of you in the Big Easy, I hope to see you in the French Quarter. Be careful on Bourbon Street.
Making the Most of It
OK, so some of the water-related shows are about boats and slightly peripheral things. Big deal. You have to love a site that could have stopped after a large listing, yet went the extra mile by providing contact information and miscellaneous stuff.
Ever wondered what it means to bring a professional presentation to the biggest show of the year and make a splash at the same time? This site can help. The seminars may be free but the top-flight eye candy is going to cost you.
You know the jokes but don’t know the name of the guy who spoke at last year’s funfest? Let this site help out in your search. Each speaker comes with a photo and a description of the act. Let me know what Mr. Barry charges an hour.