It Takes A Village…Wait…Where?

Village Road-Warriors!

Village Road-Warriors!

The world of shows has taken off! There are more shows than ever, as the streamlining of the “one-size-fits-all” type of show has branched out into many different market segments and technologies with their own events. The changes have set organizations into, ‘It’s Go Time!’ This requires a village of company teams to manage a show schedule effectively.

No matter what area of industry people are working in, from Medical to Wearable Technology products; shows and events have changed and added several new elements to the “just exhibiting at a show”! (Which those words are an understatement, in the word “Just”…way more to it than implied).

Technology has quite a bit to do with how shows and events have changed, because marketing has had a redesign, at least 500 times over in the past 10 years! Technology has driven the need of having many touch points to make an impact. Having immediate posting and video during real-time live events, with the availability to carry information at literally “warp” speed; companies have had to extend their physical reach to accommodate the competitive aspects of technology’s fast-paced immediate access. Watching the competition is just as important, to what is being said, or not said, to get the competitive edge. During shows this is immediate!

Making your mark in shows means an all-out blast of participation to maximize your return-of-investment. This can certainly be a strain on your resources and physical hours in a day!  Especially if your village consists of only you and family members and friends you can talk into helping you as a startup! Sometimes you just need an extra set of hands, someone who can tweet while you speak at an event, someone who can take pictures of your booth with customers in it to post in your tweets, take care of logistics and vendors, numerous how-to’s and do’s. Maybe you can use a little consulting or contracting help, ask TSG!

Extra effort in larger companies to make sure everyone is tweeting, blogging, posting and speaking done with little incentives can help. Generating show buzz and visibility where you are during events can bring in attendees you may miss with an email.

With all of this going on, getting a booth on the show floor brings it all together. This is where your home base is going to payoff. This is where your customers can see and experience your product/service, where you provide your differentiator and your value, where you make that face-to-face contact that you need to make the deal! This is where you can get media to get the in-depth view of what you are doing to get into articles/blogs in your industry with post-show ROI. The sales aspect is where your team takes on the competition and makes the “pitch” for your products/services with real-time information. This is where sales can shine instead of looking for the nearest chair! Energy matters! Put your feet in the attendees’ shoes, ooowiee! So make them want to stop and maybe have a place for them to take a load off for a few minutes, NO CAMPING!

Deciding on what sponsorship options may get the most visibility and attention is a huge decision. Many groups say, “whatever” pick something. This can pay off if you take the time to look at your option and find out if the napkins at the reception are really a big deal or if having a banner hanging from the stairs is the best option. This all depends on the show size and what kind of graphic you use to garner attention.

Tip: Getting the little cocktail napkins with your logo at the reception? Why not add more than your logo on the printing. Like a Notes List with numbers and lines on the napkin. Instead of all of them going in the waste bin, many will walk off with your logo/website and business notes. Add fun pens to the tables (Note: make sure your pens write on your napkin! Do a Test run.)

Hanging Banner – Get more than your Logo on it! Visual learners make up 65% of the population! Create visual graphics that people remember. How many banner signs do your remember? What did they have on them? What would you remember? I know many corporations have certain limitations to meet corporate guidelines, but if you are investing thousands of dollars on a sign, make it something ROI worthy! Get it going on Social Media by making it interesting enough to get pictures taken with or of it, and then it goes viral! Extra ROI with more marketing reach.

I cannot stress enough that it takes a village to make your money off of a show. Gathering leads and cards is not your show value; lead gen is web focused and financially tied to revenue generation. So the village needs to reach out with, pre-during-post promotion! Your organizers have a general view of attendee base, but your group has the direct line to who they want to see and who they want to see them! Send invites – notices – save the dates – meet-ups! Get a giveaway-raffle going, or special gift for people who come in with a code or an invite. Gather the invites that came in and get an automated thank you set up for after the show. Every touch-point counts.

All of the details of events can be overlooked and the results come back that the “show sucked”! Exact words I have heard, and said myself. But in retrospect of course, you get what you put effort into. Granted one person has only so many options, but knowing how to maximize what you have and what the options are can really make a big difference.

So gypsies, you are doing a phenomenal job and your businesses are working hard to keep up with the changes. See you out on the road – be happy, healthy, and remember something’s are out of our control (shipping) and we are the willow…we will bend not break! Watch out for that forklift!

Look out for what is happening here at Tradeshowgypsy (TSG)! The Business…




Tradeshow Gypsy on the MOVE…wait… Where?


Yes, I have been missing in action without a minute to even catch up my tradeshow gypsy blog! Good grief, what is a gypsy to do when the encampment decides to move states and sell their wagon lock stock and barrel in 2 weeks.  Well, panic that is it…no wagon to go to and packing everything up in a variety of boxes, suitcases,  loading up the Budget truck in a few days and moving into a condo while a NEW WAGON is BEING BUILT!

Meanwhile, there is that little thing called work going on as well. The spring show season is on, and although active kind of quiet on the reviews.  The year started out on such a high with CES going full speed ahead and kicking off the year in high gear.  Planning for the fall season, the activity in inquiries is very exciting.  My guess is that spring is going strong and business is going well but everyone is too busy to do show reviews!

Making your show dollars count and taking time to review is important as a whole and will be a win-win for All!  Your show organizer will improve their shows based on your feedback, and for your partners/customers that can give them information they need to participate in the future and give them an idea of what your business is doing and what is new if they missed the show. So take a few minutes to post on Social Media sites or show website.

Well back to the major move for this gypsy! I am looking forward to the adventure and the new wagon!

MIA Marketing….wait…Where?

Marketing $$ where are you?

Yes, gypsies in all the mayhem of traveling from show to show while packing and unpacking, did you remember your marketing? So many times we all get so caught up with the actual logistics and sales leads that the marketing gets left unaccounted for.  How do I know, you say? The crystal ball of course 🙂

Crystal ball used for seeing like a magnifying glass at this point from all the marks on the marketing budget spreadsheet! If your marketing is missing in action better let out the hound, finding all of those pieces, he will be on the hunt for a while!

So, all of those dollars spent on a show divided by however many leads = ROI, right? WRONG – you have to factor in all the marketing that was done pre/post show both on the cost and return. How many touches were done per customer? Did you email blast your group and new product to the moon (it could happen there are many agencies that do work in that industry)! Did you send thank you for attending or see you next time to the new leads and the mass email blast? Was there a press release involved? All of this needs to go into the number of times your company brand came across the desk of a potential/existing customer. Did your sales team have a miraculous discovery of where the initial contact point was made to lead to the sale?

How many ads did you place both in print and online? No way to know how many print hands saw your ad, unless it is catchy enough to have someone actually say, “I saw your ad in… pub”, but we are humans and humans can be a very tangible spices that will remember what they see and touch way before what they hear. The market has thinned in the printed pubs no doubt so people are seeing and touching fewer, that means they are paying more attention to the print even if it is to get to the website for detailed info – touching them twice. So you gather the number of the publication distribution – and say 15% actually hit the hands and eyes of your customer base – that can still be a good number.

Online trackers can help you out with how many times you had hits on the specific pages dedicated to your product release/press release/show code or more detailed reporting if your site is database driven.

All of these numbers can give you an idea on budgeting for next year how many touches per customer do you want to expend those marketing $$ on and where was the biggest focus (product/market) for the prior year? Do you want to stay there? Are things changing on the ole organizational goals and objectives plan? So many questions to consider and if you have some back up internal research to look at that can really make a positive difference as to how the organization makes the decisions for the next year and improve on the return.

Your new and challenging social media sites as well are a new venue that is not easily tracked other than establishing good following group and getting quality followers – not an easy task but necessary! Once again depending on your organization getting the price estimated early on is crucial to assure that all your marketing for shows and campaigns are well accounted for so that decisions can be made with more than just an “I think we should do” plan.  Also, planning ahead can save a fortune!

GOLD COINS –gotta love em!  Doing all of these things in the “slower” months of the holidays  – can pay off extensively throughout the following year.

If the company thinks they can scrimp and cut any of these elements to the marketing program – they will feel the pinch! (OUCH!)  Whether a self-employed gypsy or huge organization – everyone is now having to play in the same mediums in order to reach their customers – there are so many different individual preferences – “Old-Boomer-X-Y Baby Gens” involved in business that there is no one full-proof invest my marketing dollars in this medium and poof marketing done! We are after all a society of options = double-mocha skinny-light-whip – vente coffee please 🙂  What is that? Or you online guru’s how many apps on that iPAD or Smart Phone? Watch out for that Guerrilla – that marketing ape is serious when it comes to creative ways to do marketing, which can go amuck if it gets too creative and appeal to some but can backfire on others!  Guerrilla Marketing – innovative/creative-low-cost marketing in the more with less world!

So shake that crystal ball again gypsies, and take another look, are you missing your marketing?

Gypsy Fun…wait…Where?

Bring it on…let the games begin!

It was in here, I know it was…the fun, who didn’t pack the fun? Now that fall show season is in the throes of getting old and the gypsy Frisian horse can see the barn door (your office and time off the road!) – try to keep focused but light-hearted.

You have had those show’s that everything that could go wrong sends you over the edge; the staff that is cranky from being at several shows and still nursing achy feet; and the boss that is getting the figures on the show actuals with that frightening look and a post-it note that says – “blood pressure pills – bottom drawer!”– Yeah, all of this can put the wet blanket on the last shows for the year. But, you have to step up to the stage gypsy!  Time to break out the tambourine and mandolin and start dancing and smiling!  Those end-of-year leads are critical and the industry shows for planning are still important – you can’t let things fizzle!

Time for the magic powder that works better than a Margarita on Cinco de Mayo – extra potent fun in the booth – granted things can go amuck quickly as everyone is pretty slap happy at this point so just know that you could lose control and may have to do some “we won’t do it again bows” at the end.

EXAMPLE #1: one year we had the sticky head guys as a promo item…”Dart Man” – nice hanging banner sign designating aisles up above our booth had a great graphic — a TARGET!  Needless to say there was a line down the aisle launching the darts at the sign – thank goodness people didn’t notice until the last day of the show and we were not excommunicated from the show! (FYI – DartMan’s sticky top makes a great lint grabber for those table cloths!)

EXAMPLE #2: Defense Show –  Incoming…yup the pop rocket nurf things – pretty soon there was a full-blown “and the rockets red glare” going above the booths – though the glare was just from the amount of rockets that were synchronized to go off by a variety of staff in every booth on the show floor at the reception!! Looked like nurf confetti!

EXAMPLE #3: Booth had stuffed animals the kind that people kill for on the show floor for their kid(s).  The company that brought them was from Asia and they brought a “mascot” outfit of a huge Panda Bear – all good until they put it on and it appeared to be so top-heavy that it made the mascot look tipsy and he was handing out the coveted animals and trying to gather the leads – people were literally chasing him down the aisles and trying to steady him so he could hand them an animal – the greatest thing was he gave up on the hand-held scanner and was having people drop their business card down the pants of the costume in exchange for the animal – you gotta want it is all I can say!

Don’t be afraid to have some fun on the show floor – add a game – you see golf standard games out there to win the putter – add in something extra, harder shots through your booth – I always thought a moving hole would be great, but have not been able to figure out how to make it happen maybe a robotics show could help with that – something fun…get the medical robot chasing people for an autograph or add voice!  Have a photo-op with a variety of cardboard cutouts or a model if the budget allows – something…add some fun – there is only so much “official business” people can take, and this is the time for some light-hearted ideas!

Yeah…the image…let me know how that gypsy booth soccer game goes – 🙂




Watch out for those flying fork lifts and wheeled show cases! This is high-fall-show-event season! Yes, there is never a dull moment with whizzing of wheels rolling and beep-beep-beep of various vehicles dashing around the show floor!

For gosh sakes be careful during set-up/tear down – Look down and ahead when walking as there are cords that have not yet been covered, carpet that has not been tacked down and trash with those slippery plastic backings all over the floor.  This is no time to be texting and running! I know you are looking for that precious shipment of irreplaceable cargo (show graphics); but take a deep breath, well maybe not too deep, there are those intoxicating fumes from those various machines in the show hall…or maybe just toxic fumes…not sure, but fumes none the less.

As booths go up, they come down so be aware if you are standing under someone hanging a header from the ceiling or in-between ladders and those standing – leaning booth walls – yeah they move they are not put together yet.

Also, try not to come all dolled up to the show floor – very distracting everyone is thrashed and working and not only do you make us all look bad, seeing anyone that looks really nice in that area is like a peacock in the middle of the dump – very distracting! Besides you wouldn’t want to ruin those nice shoes with the gooey sticky messes left after lunch or break on the show floor…would you?

Ok gypsies, pack your first-aid kits too – everything – tweezers – Neosporin – Advil – aspirin, Band-aides all sizes, and if you can an ace bandage just in case a foot, wrist, or hand goes bad but not so bad that you need a Dr. The exhibit hall always has a medical facility of some kind; as does the show decorator.

Plus you have your fellow gypsies to always watch over you! Take care out there gypsies – nothing like starting a show in a cast or head bandage!

Is that CANDY I see?…wait…Where?

So many choices!!!

That’s it, that sound you hear when the doors open to the show floor! The chatter and rustling of show guides or maps to see where exhibitors are on the show floor, getting the lay-of-the-land so to speak. Then there are the others that just begin to wander on the visual plan-of-action, looking up at the hanging signs with the names they recognize. As the groups begin to form as to what booth to go to next, after visiting the most prominent next to the entrance, the sound escalates with presentations being given, coffee bars buzzing, and excited staff and attendees making that connection.  AAAAH! Life is Good! People are going about their BUSINESS! A tradeshowgypsy’s dream~ 🙂

Most general attendees see the exhibits that are the big companies with the sensory plan in place; being coaxed in with the shiny new whizbang product or service and smiling model hired to get attendees into presentations. Mesmerizing these crafty gypsies are…

The method to the madness of shows is different for everyone, how they strategize their navigation around the show floor; how the masterful organizers have segmented the various business segments; and then the “kids in the candy store” that just want to see everything! There are those that say, oh you have to have a plan “meat and potatoes”, don’t waste time! In some cases I can see this, as some shows are huge and there is no way to get to everyone in the amount of time you may be limited to, however, there is something to be said for the candy store method as well, discovering those start-ups or mid-size organizations that have new releases or services that may be extremely beneficial to your organization.

Following the organizational segmentations can be helpful and that is the kind of mid-range way of defining who you will visit on the show floor.  Large shows with several show floors can be extremely difficult to navigate without the “plan” method in place, so take the time before you get to the show to go on the website and see if you can get a walking plan in place.  Just from a physical stand point, show floor walking can be exhausting and frustrating if you are seeking that one booth that may be in building A, rows 1045-1060, booth 1058; when it is clearly noted in the program building A, booth 1058!  Not to be confused with Building A of the West Conference Center rather than Building A of the East Conference Center.  It gets even better when you do large shows internationally!

For medium to smaller shows, your “plan” can still be effective but if you have the time, do a little candy store shopping and find out what new companies are coming in that might just take a bite out of your bottom-line (Ouch!); or might add a few dollars to your revenue!

The other point I’d like to make about candy shopping are those valuable connections! People change companies, like socks sometimes and usually not by their choice these days, so don’t neglect that possible really great connection that may have changed companies and might just be in that new role that may be of significant interest to you.

This gypsy likes to send out emails or social network announcements to contacts before the show to see if there is a possibility to meet at some point; or just to let everyone know that I will be attending; I often get questions or requests about a show such as; let me know if you see the whatcheehoozit from whatchamacallit company; or if you see Point A person tell them that I Point B person said hello and to call me!  Or the best one…I knew nothing about that show, let me see what I can do to get there!

So, get out there gypsies, the candy store is open and you are going shopping!

When the Winds of Change really do hit…wait…Where?

Weather Gear – Yikes!

Well the winds are whipping around the east coast and strange goings on with the earthquake the other day.  This type of mother-nature –in-charge
activity can cause a gypsy to batten down the shutters on the wagon and hitch the pony up and head for the hills to another camp!

Sometimes, this is the best you can do! But most times you  are stuck and need not worry about the “booth”! There I said, it!

Yes, you can make yourself crazy over something that is completely out of your or anyone else’s control.  My particular incident was a flood in California that hit our convention center after setup of course.  Luckily it wasn’t a violent flood, just significant rain in a short amount of time and an overflowing stream that turned into a river by the end of it.

Best advice I can give to you gypsies is make sure you know if your company has insurance, because often it is a huge tangle of “who-done-it”? or rather “who-pay-it”?  The facility looks to the organizer who looks to your company and get out your camera, everything will need pictures with a date and time for the claims folks.

If you have to pack and ship ruined items, do it, even if you have to go out and invest in a temporary crate or container.  I was lucky in that my exhibit house had a contact close to the show and they had an older crate they sold me for $200.00 and I packed the pieces in even though they were not salvageable, and I was glad I did; when the auditor came out the first thing he asked was, did I even try to salvage the pieces. When he saw it was a total loss he worked much better with us. I had to go through my organizations insurance company and they battled it out with the other two but it took months and tons of paperwork to get it all resolved.  The larger the
organization the more difficult you can expect the process to be; so find out
before you set foot out of that wagon so you know what to expect should
mother-nature decide to shift her weight and cause the variety of natural disasters.

Keep safe out there gypsies, get out of the storm(s)/quakes and stop worrying about your LCD, literature, or booth! I know how you are-those are the things that are supposed to be under your control.  Not this time chickadees… head for the hills, run for cover, and take those sales gypsies with you!

San Francisco…arresting hotel. wait…Where?


Pick a hotel...fortune says...

This gypsy definitely has an affinity for a great hotel
room! There is nothing like going through all the whoooharah! (gypsy term) of getting to the airport, checking/paying for bags, security, and the stress of
on-time vs delayed or missed connections, shuttle/rental car/taxi, parking,  bag drag, and finally that great big smile that says, you may just survive this day in your clean, quiet, hotel room.

I definitely have my favorites around the U.S., Europe, and one really outstanding hotel in Singapore that I will never forget! Having a great facility along with customer service, you cannot beat it for the hard-working gypsy that has tolerated everything from lost luggage, lost driver, lost enthusiasm and ultimately lost patience! Never a good sign, as the gypsy curses that take place at that point are very severe!

All can be forgotten in the voice of a customer service agent with a sincere welcome to the…hotel; if there is anything I can do to make your stay better, here is my card (and mean it!).

I once stayed in a hotel in San Francisco that was a name brand hotel, was beautiful, and pricey.  I went to bed about 10:00 pm facing a very busy schedule the following day. I could hear a couple next door arrive with extremely loud discussions and really bad language.  I called the front desk and asked them if they would call the room and ask them to please be a little quieter or something. They said they would, but the phone never rang and the couple finally left the room about midnight. At 2:00 am the yelling came down the hall, slamming the door to their room. Laughing ensued as did the expletives and conversation about the mini-bar that was still empty.  Slamming the adjoining door to my room sounding as though they would be in my room at any moment, I got up and placed a chair next to the door.

The next thing I heard was a huge crash, more bad language and a serious argument with someone being hit. I called the front desk and was put off with another we will call the room!  I sat quietly while the fight continued; with my heart racing, the magic words came from the guy; “I’m going to kill you … “. I called security immediately and was hoping they would come quickly after what I had conveyed. Nope, it took 4 calls as the fighting escalated and more crashes around the room. I could hear people out in the hall but they were fearful as to what was going on in the room and so no one got involved. This was a high-end expensive hotel!

Finally when security came to my room as I was the one that called; they said, they needed to listen from my room before they could demand their way into the other room. 4:00 am…security in my room listening as it got very quiet; I was sure someone was at least unconscious if not dead; nope just resting for round 2, same crash and here we go again, finally security radioed the police and went in and took the couple out through my room as they had blocked their door to their room with broken furniture.  I couldn’t believe this couple! They were dressed to the Nine’s and beat to heck! The police responded faster than security. The officers hauled the couple out in cuffs, bleeding, and still trying to get at each other! They looked like a couple you would have seen at a charity ball, with money based on the level of clothing, that is until they got caught in the shredder!

6:30 am! This gypsy was not in good humor!  8:00 am, when I met with my team for setup they were very shocked to see me in such a bad way but we had a lot of work to do and it was a long day! When I got back to the hotel and stopped by the front desk, they said, “well, there is nothing we can really do” and asked me if I
would like to move rooms? WHAT? No, I don’t want to pay for the night of no
sleep and several phone calls to get this issue taken care of over several
hours!  I changed hotels and wrote their corporate office. I was reimbursed after the documented incident but they lost a customer, one that is in the show/event industry.

The show floor can take the life out of a person; talking all day and being “on” often from very early in the morning into the evening. Having the sensory overload of booth presenters, entertainers, and general interaction is an exciting carnival, but when the gypsy has been dancing all day, it is time for some peace and QUIET! Having a hotel that is well-built and that has great customer service reassures the traveler that they will indeed be safe and have peace and quiet.  My job depends on my being able to be “ on” during the long hours of a show and having a hotel that understands the business traveler is a true jewel in the velvet bag!

Now I can reveal my favorite hotel in San Francisco – tambourine shake – drum beat…

The W Hotel – the best service and those glorious smiling faces that can really make everything right with the world! Great food, fresh flowers, with soft music and lest I forget the Heavenly Bed! With the training and the skills to take care of the traveler and the crisis that can occur on the road, the staff I have encountered at that hotel have been exceptional! The W Hotel is truly this gypsy’s dream after a long day on the show floor in San Francisco!

The encampment, aka Hotel!…wait Where?

Hotels vs Show Organizers

Back in the day the show hotels were the way to go, they always had much better negotiated room rates for the event, along with the added convenience of being close to the event. In the past few years with the travel industry suffering, and travel budgets being slashed; the deals that the external multi-vendors (Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, etc.) are getting is much lower than the negotiated show rate. Worse yet, it can happen in the 11th hour when it is too late to renegotiate with the hotel.

This has caused many a show organizer to pull their hair out by not meeting their commitments for overnight stays which are always negotiated sometimes up to a year in advance or several months at the very least to secure the venue. Often, the lack of bookings carries a very large penalty and can critically impact an event or the hotel. This has caused some real issues with hotels and show organizers battling it out come payment time.

In the hotel’s defense, they need to have their rooms filled in order to cover their costs and employees etc., so not meeting that commitment leaves them in a bad way as well. The individual hotels often do not have a say-so when “Corporate” decides to give these larger multi-vendors a sale price. This makes it just as difficult for hotel staff to negotiate a firm rate on your 200 rooms, if they have 600 to fill! There is also the issue of the competitors located in the vicinity having a sale or better rate.

So with that all that said, organizers need to be very careful about putting in large room commitments. These days it is better to be on the shy side and absorb some of the other fees that may have been comp’d. There also needs to be a clause that can protect both organizer and hotel if neighboring hotels drop their price or have a, “take your attendee’s” sale at the same time your show starts.

Generally, hotels (even competitors) do what is best for the area and work together to garner attendees and establish long-term events in their city. However, for medium to small shows, that rule may go out the window and there you have the issue. In some cases it may be necessary to negotiate out the hotel night quotas and get a straight out conference area rental rates to accommodate both parties if the hotel competition is significant.

I attended a show where I booked a neighboring (nice) hotel for $80 less per night than the show hotel across the street that was not as nice. The entire hotel was filled with attendees; alas the show hotel never touched their room commitment. The organizers were beside themselves and the hotel was just as angry, causing a riff between long-standing partners and the show was moved to a different venue the next year, causing both parties to lose!

This is truly a dilemma that needs a clear thought process and working closely together to get the best solution for everyone is imperative to the entire industry. Extensive communication and a genuine meeting of the minds must to be done when negotiating a site selection with continued follow-up BEFORE the event. In these times of change we are all caught in that whirlwind of ups and downs in economic travel trends and we need to rise above all the whooha (technical term), and get on with our business,  after all, there is work to be done!

Keeping partnerships together will only benefit everyone involved, so put the gloves down and go for the daisies! There is a solution if the industry groups work together.