New format for trade shows

New format for trade shows

I just returned from the Central Veterinary Conference (CVC) hosted by Advanstar publishing in Kansas City.

I’ve been attending this conference for many years and had grown accustomed to the floor plan and where our clients and prospects were traditionally located.  Last year, Terry Reilly of Advanstar announced to me they were going to re-format the show by grouping like exhibitors within common areas on the floor.  Terry explained how many trade show organizers were beginning to employ this strategy in recent years, and how this was the first attempt in the animal health industry.  I was intrigued and looked forward to this year’s event.

Being the creatures of habit (and resistors to change) we are, I anticipated a few grumblings about the new floor plan from exhibitors and attendees alike and I wasn’t disappointed. I do understand how some exhibitors would rather be located apart from their direct competitors, and how some attendees would prefer not to be “caught” comparison shopping between manufacturers.

The stronger position to be taken by exhibitors would be to invite direct comparisons and shopping by visitors to their booth – which is exactly what I discovered with a handful of the manufacturers and distributors there.  Attendees should also be willing to raise questions regarding competitive products and seek sales people who provide direct answers.

After all, prospective customers will visit multiple exhibits within each category anyway, regardless of exhibit hall floor plan, so why not encourage them to seek out a competitor?  The stronger – and more confident – companies and sales professionals want prospective customers to review competitive products in order to reinforce their own superior product features and benefits.

So, was the new CVC exhibit hall format a success in the eyes of exhibitors or attendees?  Only time will tell.  My belief is the new format is here to stay, and that all parties involved in trade show marketing will come to view such a change as positive and helpful to commerce within their industry.

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