I think I found one!….wait What?

I think there’s one over here!

During this time of year everyone is super busy in the show gypsy gig!With budgets being put in place by potential speakers/sponsors;  organizers are in the trenches figuring out schedules and working with hotels/convention/conference venues!

The show organizer dance of trying not to collide with other events can be a huge challenge; more large organizations are hosting their own events as well as a variety of new organizers hosting vertical events. The key is to know your market segments and figure out if there are east and west coast events in the U.S.; spring or fall show season; and if you add in International shows that throws in a whole different perspective of attendee base vs conference speakers/exhibitor resources and money available.  Organizers have to know all of this to determine if the event they want to host will be cost-effective and still meet the needs of Sponsors/Attendees.

With so many variables, securing dates early is critical to getting your event set so others are dancing around your event.  There seems to be a number of events that are going in more vertical directions to draw those sponsorship organizations that are moving business objectives into more vertical products/services.
Sponsors/exhibitors are doing less of the multi-purpose events that target entire market segments. This does allow for quite a bit of cross over with more events popping up that target a variety of verticals with small differentiators thus going after the same sponsors for more events, even though they may be smaller.

The competition is quite active and venues are struggling as well, having to manage more events instead of the week long events of days gone by that would fill hotels to the brim and allow for less bookings!  Negotiations are quite a bit of work to secure meeting the needs of everyone involved:  a venue at a price organizers can afford; hotels that need to meet a quota and still make money; conference centers/convention centers can pay for their facility maintenance and insurance costs that go up every year.  Organizers have to be extremely savvy in negotiations in order to keep costs down for the event and be able to pay for the costs associated and still keep in business. Not an easy task!

So enough gloom and doom – there are ways to succeed for the organizer dancing through the swamp lands with the various critters lurking, disguise of the quicksand, and voodoo mysteries going on in the background!  (Almost Halloween after all)!

Supplies: Shot gun (Pen), rope (Calculator), and gypsy protection dust (same)! (I’m sure there is something like that in those trade show boxes at this point) J

  1. Get schedules set early
  2. Negotiate immediately once the decision is made to host the event
  3. Find a venue that will work with you on attrition rates and book conservatively – these days much better to error on the short side than the over book/catering
  4. Team – with so many small events look for synergy between shows and team even if there is just a turn-over of the show hall for events – or if once a show finishes the other one starts in another part of the venue or close to it; and then work on co marketing efforts!
  5. Get your bid into your sponsors NOW – this is budget season and Sponsors need time to get a review of your event and determine their financials
  6. Secure support vendors/contractors as well – there are fewer and they are busier with more events as well.
  7. Find your differentiator – whether it is your Sponsors/Speakers or venue, marketing, make your event stand out and promote early

Yes, the key word through all of this is EARLY – money is tight and the lean and mean machines are out in full-force thus cutting resources to support events in all manners.

No doubt we all have hopes that the economic picture will look up and hiring will commence once again as burnout is at an all-time high for people with jobs and they really could use a few more staff to keep their sanity and their health! A show is a very good way to give staff some relief by meeting with their peers and regenerating enthusiasm to innovate. However, travel funds are being tightened also, so make sure your events have more than just the normal speakers…get some training or dynamic speakers into your events to make it worth it for attendees.

Value-add has to be justified at all levels and organizers have to work on negotiations and venue to keep audiences/sponsors/exhibitors engaged and make your event the one to support/attend.

Get that dousing stick out – we need to find a great venue, sponsor group, exhibitor, speaker, attendee, and oh yeah… MONEY!

I know you can do it – you are a trade show gypsy after all!


When the time comes…wait…When?

Time to Choose!

There is a whole schematic that goes down when organizers are finding just the right date and venue to host an event.

There is the ever prominent dart throw on the calendar, who else is hosting something at that time tact, and the availability dates at the chosen venue. Basically, all three are done initially to get the ball rolling. Having events set up 1 to 2 years in advance is such a luxury these days, as many of the venues are running pretty lean as are many show organizations.

Once the date, venue, and subject of the year are selected, the promotion begins and the speakers are solicited as are the exhibitors/sponsors for events. Unless it is an internal event and there is not a bag of gold coins required from anyone; let’s just say let the games begin.

What I call the booth haggle begins, trying to secure that perfect booth space for the best price with of course as much marketing as you can get! But, the haggle has now become less common in the past 3 years.

There are many shows that have firm/fixed pricing because they have secured their venue, priced their operational costs for marketing, staff, services, catering, decorator, AV provider, etc. etc. etc., and trust me the list does go on! With firm/fixed priced shows it is a good way to really give a clean number for your budget estimates; it basically is what it is!

With the haggle shows there usually is a little leeway usually about $500 more or less, that sales people can play with, however this has become a much smaller margin with the “lean, mean, economic machine” eating us all alive! So be aware that what was the norm of the past 5-3 years is now a whole different ball game, they really may be limited to the fixed rate or not more than $100.

Should you stop doing shows because they are so costly? NO!! NO!!! NO!!!

If you are organizing – just plan better, get your venue selection to work with you to get those fixed costs set so you know what you are dealing with right away and avoid those last-minute (VERY COSTLY) add ons!

For both organizers and exhibitors – make your graphics last longer, send fewer staff or keep the travel down to fewer non-local staff, keep those printed materials to a minimum (shipping is so crazy right now) don’t send pounds of literature, send smaller cards with a website, send a dedicated laptop with LCD and have them register to get the materials sent to them right out of your booth if you have internet, if you don’t have email access, set up a form to register and have one of the office gypsies send out the requested literature by email the next day!

Make the smaller cards fun or graphically memorable but keep your costs down in shipping and printing, but don’t miss out on the Branding opportunities.

Out-of-Sight-Out-of-Mind!!! IT IS SO TRUE!!! And people at shows have nothing to do but talk and if you are missing, they will be more than happy to give out scenarios as to why you are NOT there and why they are!

The job markets, company layoffs, and acquisitions have had people popping into new logo shirts like the Mad Hatter, so you have to keep up with everyone and where they are and what position they now hold! Critical to maintaining your CRM and assuring your data does not become obsolete.

Industry people talk, they are a captive audience and that is what they are there to do, communicate, sell, and BRAND!

Keep your company visible and actively engaged in your respective industries, don’t fall through the cracks and lose ground. Organizers, hang in there, we need you!