Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel

Let's say you have an outstanding booth presentation and your booth personnel are dressed appropriately for the message you are trying to convey, can you still lose out on potential business? The short answer is yes. Here are a few things your booth personnel should never do:

  • Don't sit - it gives the impression that you are lazy or don't care
  • Don't read - leave the book and magazine in your hotel room
  • No eating or drinking
  • Don't ignore attendees - if you're busy with another customer at a minimum acknowledge their presence or include them in your conversation
  • Stay off the telephone
  • Try not to just hand out free literature. Half of it winds up in the trash. Gather email addresses and contact information and forward the literature that way. Plus they will appreciate not having to carry reams of brochures and papers.
An often-overlooked area for trade show exhibitors in the travel industry is the pre-show promotion. I attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conventions in Las Vegas each year. Weeks before CES and NAB, I am bombarded with emails from exhibitors looking to get my attention. They share product information and the location of their booth on the trade show floor.

When attending large trade shows it helps me narrow my focus on those booths that have something I want to see. Research proves most people pre-plan which booths they plan to visit.

My advice to you, get the ball rolling early and be creative. Larger exhibitors often have mixers open only to those who respond in advance. Others have special giveaways for those who respond to their emails and other advanced forms of marketing and promotion - of course you must show up at the booth to claim the prize.

Gathering those email addresses from previous conventions is a good place to start your marketing campaign. If a particular show shares email addresses with exhibitors, get the list and use it. Other ways to get a little pre-promotion is to place an ad in trade journals and magazines such as (i)Black Meeting and Tourism(ei). If a particular show has a program it might be worth it to place an ad in the program with your booth number and a special offer.

Issue a press release announcing a new product or service. If you have a good-sized budget, hire a celebrity spokesperson for a few hours to push that product or service. Maybe you can even get a local celebrity who is recognized outside your community to attend for free in exchange for a free hotel stay, travel and other perks. Some celebrities will endorse a product because they believe in the product.

Mail out cards redeemable for a gift at the exhibit and/or make telephone calls to key clients just before the show.

Lastly, everyone should have a pre-show, at-the-show and post-show promotion plan. Most organizations put all the efforts into pre-show and at-the-show plans and forget post-show follow up. You've spent thousands of dollars flying people in, creating materials, paying for exhibitor space and you walk away with no contacts. At the very least collect business cards and do follow ups. Hot leads are often pushed back for days as trade show exhibitors return to the office and back to business as usual, not following up for weeks, if ever. What's the point?