Here are some suggestions on how to manage your renewal selling process. First, establish a clear definition so you can measure your results. Define "renewal" as re-signing this year's exhibitors within 60 days of the show (after that it becomes "retention"). And be sure that re-sign requires a signed contract plus a deposit (25 to 50%).
The renewal cycle seems to be starting earlier and earlier. One very large show starts 16 months out and has most booth assignments completed by this year's show. More tips:
Track statistics for both NSF and number of companies. Also, measure sub categories such as key accounts and first-year exhibitors.
Consider not offering a discount for renewals. One show phased this out and no one noticed.
Most priority point systems credit number of years and size of booth. Some are starting to factor in sponsorships, ads and participation in other sister shows during the year.
Finally, in these economic times consider being flexible with exhibitors who may be having temporary financial difficulties. For example, many shows are not being hard-nosed if an exhibitor drops out for a year—they do not lose their priority points.
Thanks to Claire Kilcoyne and Eileen Oswald who mentioned many of these points at the 2001 SISO Executive Conference.