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.

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Profit Tips
White Papers
ECEF
Large Show Roundtable

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White Papers Index

W1 - All is Not Well

W2 - Sample of a Memo to Content Partners

W3 - Ten Commandments for Speakers

W4 - 100 Tips in 75 Minutes

W5 - All About E-Newsletters

W6 - The Other Two Legs

W7 - Five Mistakes Associations Make

W8 - 15 Attendance Promotion Tips

W9 - Ten Questions to Ask When Considering a Launch

W10 - 15 Cost-Saving Tips

W11 - 15 E-Marketing Tips

W12 - Strategic Review of a Show

W13 - Launching a New Event

W14 - Avoiding Attrition Penalties

W15 - The Case Against Audits

W16 - Co-location for Fun and Profit

W17 - Improving the Association Show

W18 - International Attendance Promotion

W19 - Helping International Visitors Obtain Visas

W20 - Fixing the Machine

Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum

Large Show Roundtable

 

100 Tips in 75 Minutes

Session given at IAEM Annual Meeting in December, 2002

  1. Saturate your drive-in market to capture "impulse" attendees.
  2. Do frequent surveys especially on hot topics to ensure your perception of your show is in line with that of your attendees and exhibitors.
  3. Don't be boring -- make your show a real event.
  4. Get everything in writing; good will and good intentions net nothing in reality.
  5. Create an Exhibitor Advisory Committee of 10 to 20 of your top exhibitors – include supporters and critics.
  6. Do solicit sponsorships from companies not eligible to exhibit.
  7. Take a risk each year/each show to showcase something new and exciting within your industry.
  8. Have a mascot.
  9. Assume nothing.
  10. Create forums/sessions for your exhibitors to provide their product information directly to attendees.
  11. Never require that a web site registrant obtain a password.
  12. Treat suppliers and contractors fairly.
  13. Wear red hats or another distinguishable component to your show uniforms.
  14. Reward/encourage your entire team before, during and after the event.
  15. Exchange your attendee mailing lists for your exhibitors’ client lists to do co-op attendee promo mailings.
  16. Don’t mail guest passes for exhibitors.
  17. Mistakes are okay – hiding them is not.
  18. Have show management stand at the entrance saying "Welcome" and "Thank you for coming."
  19. Understand, communicate and sell the value of your marketplace, tradeshow and/or meeting to everyone.
  20. Expand services to your international attendees at your show.
  21. Hire effective sales people and teach them the trade show business.
  22. Post top 20 FAQ’s with answers on your show website.
  23. Practice "submission marketing" -- bombard your prospects in every way possible.
  24. Understand the value proposition of your event.
  25. Don’t waste your money on high-priced keynote speakers.
  26. “Pay” qualified attendees to come to your show.
  27. Establish a year-round relationship and communication plan with your exhibitors.
  28. Continue to aggressively market to registered attendees.
  29. Greet every attendee like they are the most important person there.
  30. Increase the value and ROI of exhibitors’ sponsorships.
  31. Compress your show floor – to increase traffic density.
  32. Develop onsite problem/resolution forms and have them signed off by both sides.
  33. Spend whatever you need to make your show stand out -- big name speakers, celebrity entertainers, etc.
  34. Understand the profit model for your event.
  35. Ask your CVBs, decorator and vendors to sponsor your exhibitor reception and/or lounge.
  36. Make only “warm” telemarketing calls.
  37. Don’t badmouth your competition; you never know if and when you will be working together.
  38. “Bribe” the most desirable attendees to come to your show.
  39. Be inclusive, not exclusive, in marketing your event to your industry’s associations and organizations.
  40. Six months out, organize a pre-show exhibitor briefing, site tour and contractor meet-and-greet.
  41. Never use a complicated URL – keep your web site address simple.
  42. Hold conference sessions in small, tight rooms to maintain density so they appear to have SRO.
  43. Give attendees a significant free benefit for registering far in advance.
  44. Do not think you can build it anywhere at anytime and they will come.
  45. Publish your exhibitor target move-in schedule with a color-coded floor plan.
  46. Consider co-locating with another show or conference that also serves your market.
  47. Provide show partners with branding throughout the show and recognize them for the content and attendees they bring.
  48. Charge more for booth space at the front of the hall.
  49. Stay alert to competitive moves and be open and flexible to new ideas and ways of doing business.
  50. Court your industry’s trade publishers and involve them in your show.
  51. Never give up on a sales prospect – exhibitors are holding out till the very last minute.
  52. Use the pre-registered media list to set appointments in advance of the show.
  53. Always give early renewal opportunities and discounts to exhibitors.
  54. Set performance measures for your event, evaluate performance and plan for the next day or next show.
  55. Bundle your association’s membership dues with your exhibit space rates and make every exhibitor become a member.
  56. Have excellent relations with all the movers and shakers in your market (associations, trade magazines, gurus, etc.).
  57. Use media to moderate conference sessions; this will ensure they attend the show.
  58. Never talk about a specific booth assignment with an exhibitor until you receive the paperwork with payment.
  59. Create unique benefits about your event and sell them over and over again.
  60. Give your show a new theme each year to tie in with your pre-show and on-site marketing, materials and decorations.
  61. Keep your database “rich” and up to date.
  62. Create a buzz campaign to highlight other exciting things going on in and around your show dates.
  63. Make it easy for your exhibitors to bring lots of people to the show.
  64. Develop a co-location business model for your event.
  65. Distribute free guest passes not only to exhibitors but also to the dealers, distributors and VARs.
  66. Have your attendance figures certified.
  67. If you have an international audience, keep their needs and cultural standards in mind in developing signage, brochures, and receptions.
  68. Invent deadlines to create more opportunities to contact potential exhibitors.
  69. Develop strategic alliances with partners in your industry to enhance and expand your strengths and presence in the marketplace.
  70. Stand behind your show’s value and don’t discount your exhibit space.
  71. Encourage non-members to attend your convention.
  72. Translate your home page on the web into several languages.
  73. Change your show dates and locations frequently and without notice.
  74. Work with your strategic alliance partners to create brand extensions for your core product.
  75. Don’t sign hotel attrition contracts.
  76. Sell flexibly: odd booth sizes, unique sponsorships, meeting rooms, intimate key buyer receptions, etc.
  77. Good, clear directional signage equals happy customers!
  78. Develop an Emergency Plan for your show.
  79. If you have a virtual trade show, be realistic about your virtual presence. Are you a 24/7 – 365 days marketplace or a driver for on-line registration?
  80. Provide more block hotel info on your website to facilitate web-based reservations.
  81. Publish your actual pre-registration attendance list three weeks out.
  82. Don’t allow tip jars at any show receptions.
  83. Be a pest to convention bureaus and convention centers around the country.
  84. Be conservative in blocking hotel rooms.
  85. Insert discount coupons to your show store in attendee’s registration confirmation badge mailers.
  86. Reinvent yourself on a regular basis.
  87. Negotiate hotel contracts with attrition on profits only.
  88. Always track the results of your attendee and exhibitor marketing efforts.
  89. Add an audit of rooms to hotel contacts to improve performance and avoid attrition.
  90. Create a bimonthly exhibitor e-mail news bulletin with show updates beginning six months prior to your show.
  91. Spend your promotion budget primarily on those most likely to attend.
  92. Ask for the keys of hotel rooms you’re paying for so that they cannot be resold.
  93. Never tell a lie and don't ever burn your bridges.
  94. If you sign multi-year hotel contracts, provide for an annual review of blocks.
  95. Send holiday cards to your exhibitors and thank them for their business.
  96. Be sure you are the one true “celebration of your industry.”
  97. Declare victory after your show or conference; you can set the tone!
  98. Be paranoid -- never take your eye off the competition and other potential threats.
  99. Be nice and play fair.
  100. Reward repeat attendees with access to special VIP services at your show.


Michael Hough is an industry consultant and author of The Profitable Trade Show. He welcomes discussion on this topic at mhough@ntplx.net.