Is going to a trade show like going to the dentist?

04 March 2014

Well to me it is! You don’t really want to go to but feel that you should, at least once a year (hopefully twice when relating to the Dentist). I have always found trade shows to be very unfriendly and a bit too much of a hard sell from an exhibitor point of view, it costs thousands and does it really reflect your brand to the customer?

Exhibitors always stick to the ‘exhibition’ commandments:

* Make sure you stand at the front of the stand

* Eye contact, stare at their breast to see if they are “worth” talking to (look at the name badge)

* Ask open ended questions (what are we trying to trap them into buying?)

* Zap them or god forbid get their business card for a chance to win a bottle of Champagne, original!

It it time for a new format?

I have just signed up for The London Christmas Party show, the first show Merlin Events have done in four years. I am hoping that the show will be badge free and more of a ‘lets chat and find out who you are’ type of event.

I hope the exhibitors will not have guard dogs biting at your heels making you head down the centre of the aisle and ignore all the great things that you wanted to look at but couldn’t because you felt pestered and harassed.

Perhaps the exhibitors will relax and take a seat at their stand, with free food and drink flowing down the aisles.

The show also poses a new location, Banking Hall in Bank funnily enough, a far better spot for an event to attract people. For someone who lives on Greenwich Peninsula, a journey to Olympia takes me about 50 minutes on a good day and let’s face it how many wasted hours have we spent waiting at Earls Court for the Olympia shuttle?

So what’s my wish list when trying a new show?

* No brochures please, just a good app with links to promoter’s web sites and the main contacts LinkedIn profiles so I can find them easily afterwards

* No carrier bags (I mean gift bags) with bits of paper for me to leave in the pub (none of that expensive collateral ever gets back to an office unless you have an old school boss that wants proof you have been to the show) . Let’s be honest If we are trying to entice people to a show with gift bags are they really going to spend on large events?

* WIFI that can cope with every exhibitor and guest in the room

* Some new sexy technology that reaches beyond a twitter wall, please that’s so 2010

* An opportunity to see some entertainment at lunchtime

* Some great food and a relaxing environment

* A chance to really chat with guests and have fun (it’s not all about the badge zapping, you may as well have bought a mailing list for £300 if that’s your strategy)

A small friendly show is maybe what the industry needs and I am willing to give it a chance after not exhibiting for a number of years.

I am keen to know what exhibitors and guests want from a show and do you agree or disagree with my comments?

This blog was written on Tuesday 4th March 2014 by Michael Aldridge