Trade Show Tips

ELITeXPO Asset Management

Treatment, Vaccine, Trade Shows Restarting – Are We Ready?

From: David Mihalik

President – ELITeXPO

Everyone has heard enough of all the bad news and conflicting information from station to station. Me, I’m looking for the good news. You already know the background news and noise. You don’t need more of it from me. What’s accurate anyway? You stand a better chance of figuring out the National algorithm for Drayage. The stuff hit the proverbial trade show fan in early March. It’s only been 4 months, 16 weeks, but it feels like that feeling when you’ve been waiting on empties from the bone yard well past happy hour and dinner plans. That long!

You’ll be hard pressed to find an industry that’s been as negatively affected as those who work to provide products and services for events with large gatherings of people. Some have alternatives and options, but our business relies on the operation of live face to face events. You remember that, right? We’re the anti-Zoom crowd. To borrow the buzz words of the day, we will change the narrative and pivot to alternative means of opportunity and revenue. We here at ELITeXPO are familiar with the concept. After the Great Recession in 08/09 we made the decision that our best opportunities would come from our existing customers.  We decided to offer full scale trade show property asset management as a means to offer customers and prospective customers a turnkey one stop source for all of their live event planning annually. We invested in software to allow remote ordering and management of inventory. We purchased a 2nd warehouse to manage our growing inventory. We hired a skilled manager and added experienced warehouse personnel. As a result of that expansion our customers asked us to become involved with set up and tear down labor, graphics, flooring, exhibit rentals and sales and design. Full service now meant so much more.

Recall that back during 9/11, everyone’s trade show properties came back for storage while shows shut down for that short period of time. Today, we have much the same except that everything is back into storage and it will be for a longer period of time. Normally a percentage of inventory is always in motion, but with most shows cancelled or postponed, the warehouse is bursting at the seams. Fortunately, our Asset Management program continues to provide some work and revenue, but it also largely relies on subsequent services such as freight, pick and pulls, refurbishments, updates, etc. We greatly miss that residual work which makes the asset management successful. While we are getting closer to seeing shows operating soon, we simply don’t have an exact time frame.

As we approach the 4th quarter, there is a growing concern that there will be a big rush to pull exhibit properties to prepare for the next event, or to create new experiential events for that first big trade show when face to face marketing returns. Being proactive in preparing for your next event when it does operate will allow you ample time to assure that you will be able to be ready once the timelines for that show are finalized. It assures time to get necessary parts, or needed graphics ordered for new products or markets you wish to serve. Imagine that most all exhibitors’ properties are sitting in storage somewhere now and many of them will be coming out when shows resume. Suppliers will be stressed with handling the rush of needed parts and orders for everyone who will be looking to get back into the game. Also, this much needed and appreciated work is something that we are asking our valued customers to consider doing now, while we are slower and have ample time to prepare your requests. As a primary trade show company, we are looking forward to the time when we can get back to work, full time. We would very much appreciate the opportunity to get to work for you now, during this down time while we all await the return of shows. If you have work that has been budgeted for in 2020 and is currently in your plans for upcoming events, we are asking that you consider, working with us now in these summer months to assist you. This is work that our company would greatly appreciate and would assist us in so many ways and your company will be ready and prepared to exhibit for those first shows that you will exhibit at. So, take a moment and ask yourself… Are You Ready? If not, don’t wait. Let’s keep working now and together we will be ready to exhibit soon!


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The New Landscape Where Scalability = Flexibility

A few weeks ago I jotted down some thoughts on COVID-19, it’s potential impact on the tradeshow floor and how we might coexist – see https://www.elitexpo.com/ts/home/blog/.

Since I shared that blog there have been other thoughts/ideas shared from my peers within the industry. For example, wider aisles on the show floor, signage directing traffic flow and/or the addition of buffer zones between exhibits to name a few.

Today, I thought I would take a moment to address the reality that as we plan for shows going forward, we will probably need to reconsider the size of the exhibit we will be taking to the event. I say this because recently there has been talk that in an effort to address social distancing requirements, we might very well see a reduction in the size of the individual booth space permitted on the show floor.

For some, this might be perceived as a problematic situation where your investment in a smaller booth has limited use with no future applications for growth. Well I am here to tell you that this is not the case. Yes, you can start small and still have the flexibility to expand to a larger footprint when restrictions are relaxed and the opportunity for large exhibits one again presents itself. Today’s modular exhibits afford you scalability and flexibility. And with trade shows facing a variety of restrictions, now more than ever, exhibitors are going to need to be flexible in order to adapt.

They say a picture is worth 1000 words, so I thought I would share two examples of how a modular system can be very versatile when size options are a priority.

Flexibility from the ExpoDisplays MultiQuad System
ExpoDisplays MultiQuad System
Scalability from the Classic Exhibits MODUL System
Classic Exhibits MODUL System

As you can see in the above examples, when changing booth size, you can still have a consistent look and feel to your exhibit(s) and your overall brand presence on the show floor. In addition, in most situations you are able to re-purpose the same graphics for the different configurations. Also, it is important to note that this strategy applies to both purchase and/or rental properties.

So, as we all continue to navigate through these uncharted COVID-19 waters, keep this strategy in mind. As show organizers explore implementing a variety of social distancing practices and depending on the venue, you might find yourself having to rethink the size of your exhibit. Know that you have scalable options that will afford you the ability to adapt to different footprints and get more out of your exhibit.

Stay safe!

Chuck Michel

VP Trade Show Services
ELITeXPO
D: 847-324-3840
C: 314-667-3225
E: chuckm@elitexpo.com

COVID-19 and Face to Face Marketing. Can they coexist and are we looking at a ‘new’ normal?

As I type the above headline, I am sure many wonder about the reality of this horrific virus that is so stealthy and one that thrives on social activity, coexisting with an industry that is based totally on social interaction. Now keeping in mind that I am a firm believer that for the next 8 weeks we should indeed be diligent in our social distancing efforts, there will be a time when we need to relax the practice, albeit slowly. At that point, I feel our industry will start to come out of this forced hibernation and we can breathe life back into what I have always believed to be the paramount platform for both b2b and b2c marketing. Let me say it right now… COVID-19 is not going to eliminate face to face marketing, be it tradeshows, be it events. While dormant now, it will be back… although with a slightly different landscape!

So, what does the future hold for us? How will both exhibitors and attendees re-acclimate to what will be the new normal for us? Here are some of my thoughts on what I feel we can expect to see, and what I think might help us get back to firing on all 8 cylinders.

1) Show Attendance – Let’s face it, we all want the show floor to be buzzing with traffic. Exhibitors go to meet both existing clients, new prospects and visit with industry peers. Now the reality is that beyond the designated aisles that are in place to control flow of people, it really is a free for all when it comes to traffic patterns and where people go and when they go.  Which leads me to some “what ifs”  that I think might help our cause:

  • What if we developed a registration system that determined the number of people that could attend each day? In other words, once you registered there would be a lotto system in place that designated you to one particular day that you could attend. For example; we have a four day show that runs Mon- Thurs, once you register you are allotted on specific day to attend. If that particular day does not work, you request a new day, much akin to having a timed-entry pass to get into Disney World. If needed, we can even drill down further and only allow am vs. pm attendance. This I feel will even out the days people attend, eliminate the crazy crowds on the 1st day and balance out the attendance on the last day where attendance is typically very light. Yes, this will be somewhat of an inconvenience to start, but let’s face it, we all need to adjust here. I personally think this could work in the short term. And if need be, we stay with this lotto system until we have a vaccine in place.
  • What if we limit the number of attendees from a particular company that can register? Just send the key buyers that are responsible for making the decision. And I would say that this applies to any size company. Again, another way to control the number of people.

2) Footprints– While many subscribe to the mantra “Go Big Or Go Home”, this too warrants some rethinking and reconfiguring.

  • What if we consider cutting the size of the footprints down on the show floor? What if we don’t allow footprints larger than an inline 10’ x 30’. Yes, I realize for some this will be a big adjustment and honestly as a booth provider I am not excited about saying goodbye to island footprints. But again, we really need do think out of the box and consider this new floor plan as a possible option for the short term. This will also cut down on staff needed which will help the cause in an effort to control crowd size.

3) Rentals- This could be the new norm for a while and one that isn’t driven by the usual considerations when choosing between rental or purchase.

  • What if this now becomes the preferred option? It falls in line with my comments above regarding the need to consider scaling down our footprints. In reality, many exhibitors don’t have a booth that might fit this new paradigm and therefore will need to look at new inline booths. While we don’t have a crystal ball that can tell us how long we will be living with social distancing and related crowd control, this too could be a short-term solution as we plan for Q3 and QW4 tradeshows in 2020.

While I realize that my “what ifs” are a bit out of the box, for some might seem a very far-fetched and an inconvenience, truth be told for now (and the foreseeable future) I only ask that we all need to be open minded.

Stay healthy and safe and I look forward to the day when we can once again all say “Have A Good Show”!

Cheers…Chuck

Chuck Michel

VP Tradeshow Services

ELITeXPO, Inc.

chuckm@elitexpo.com

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