The first edition of The Profitable Trade Show by Michael Hough ...
is now sold out. But we are working on the next edition which we hope to publish in late 2004. Meanwhile, this web site provides practical, "how-to" information for all who produce face to face events such as exhibitions, trade shows and conferences.

Profit Tips
White Papers
Large Show Roundtable

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Also Available

White Papers
White papers are more in-depth discussions of topics such as "Avoiding Attrition Penalties" and "Improving the Association Show." Click here for a complete list of White Papers.

Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum

Large Show Roundtable


See the Profit Tips and White Papers as described on this page. You may use any of this material gratis, provided the item is appropriately sourced to Michael Hough at and it is not used for commercial purposes.

Also, be sure to use the links to the web sites for our two events: Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ECEF) and Large Show Roundtable (LSR).

Profit Tips

We have a total of 138 pithy, thought provoking and bottom-line Tips that cover all facets of producing a profitable trade show including marketing, sales, operations and more. Click here to access all the Profit Tips.

Sample Profit Tip

Improving Cash Flow

Cash flow in our business did not used to be a problem— it was always one of the major perks of producing a trade show. Now some shows are having problems keeping incoming revenue ahead of outgoing expenses. That is because many exhibitors are taking advantage of the market downturn -- and holding back on making those advance payments.

To keep your cash flow positive, the overall goal is to speed up collections and slow down payments. Here are some tips:

  • Never assume a yes is a yes. Continue selling the benefits of the show till you get the first payment (and a signed contract).
  • A signed contract is critical because it allows you to enforce your payment policy. And one clause must be —you sign the contract, you owe the booth fee even if you cancel.
  • Have a no exception rule that exhibitors must be current with your payment schedule to be allowed to order onsite services. And be sure your contractors know who is delinquent.
  • Really push early bird conference registrations—such as a 50% discount four months out.
  • Negotiate better payment terms with the venue—such as 10% 12 months out, then 30% eight months out, another 30% four months out and the final 30% 30 days out. Do the same with your contractors.

P.S. If you offer a discount for early booth payment, word it this way: "Amount due $2800. Deduct $200 if paid by September 1." Do not say, "$2600 if paid by September 1." In the latter case, the exhibitor will fixate on "$2600" and that is all you will get even if the check arrives in January.

About Michael Hough

Michael HoughMichael Hough is a consultant who specializes in advising on the strategy and tactics of organizing profitable trade shows. He co-founded the A/E/C SYSTEMS show and was recently Senior Managing Director with Penton Media, Inc. He is a founding member of the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and has lectured and written extensively on the various aspects of producing shows.

Along with his partner Sam Lippman, Mike is producing two events that have proved to be very popular with the key people in our industry:

Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ECEF) held each May in Washington, DC. ECEF brings together top level event producing executives to discuss strategic issues. Click here to access.
Large Show Roundtable (LSR) held in various cities throughout the year. LSR is an invitation-only peer level, free form discussion for show managers of Top 200 shows. Click here to access.

Permission granted to use any of this material as long as it is for non commercial purposes (that is, no money is charged for it) and provided it is credited to Michael Hough at

Copyright © 2003 MRH Associates Inc. All rights reserved.