From July 19-22, approximately 150 exhibit industry professionals, including exhibit marketers, vendors and suppliers, gathered at Boston Marriott Quincy for education and collaboration during Exhibit and Event Marketers Association’s (E2MA) Red Diamond Congress.
Themed “engagement,” conference delegates collaborated on ways to improve connections between exhibitors and attendees on the show floor.
E2MA Executive Director Jim Wurm emphasized that engagement is the process of getting customers to become devoted, dedicated and energized about the industry. He added that it is a quantifiable value to both the organization and the industry at large as a concept and a theme that could further improve the industry.
Beginning with the Boston Randy Smith Memorial Golf outing, the organization paid homage to the late George Wurm with a White Rose Ceremony, the organization’s past Director of EAC Registration and Jim Wurm’s brother. The E2MA Foundation, EDPA Foundation and E2MA New England Chapter invited attendees to participate to Rally at the Red Diamond to benefit George’s family after passing suddenly on April 30 from congestive heart failure. Held at Ponkapoag Golf Course, golfers concluded their charity golf event with a VIP reception sponsored by Sho-Link and Group Delphi.
The day’s winners were:
Jay Britt, Corporate Communications
Francesca Lendrum, Ever Epic
Chuck Texeira, Willwork
Dave Brown, Optima Graphics
Lew Shomer, SISO
David DuBois, IAEE
Jim Wurm, E2MA
Mike Metzger, Zenith LaborNet
Chris Lake, Zenith LaborNet
Opening up the first day of education was Keynote Speaker Jack Myers of MyersBizNet who discussed how to prepare for the future of business in the exhibits and events landscape.
Two panels were brought together to address “burning issues” affecting the exhibition industry. Jack Myers of MyersBizNet, a business-to-business media and marketing company; Susanne Skinner, senior event marketing manager at Kaseya; and Rick Rogers of Sapphire spoke on the topic of reaching attendees before and during a tradeshow.
Myers advised that consumers are becoming the communicators. Companies ought to use online communication channels as a platform to push out the same fundamental content with a focus on younger generations through special tracks.
Skinner stated that events are much more hands-on with onsite product demonstrations. Exhibitors should also be mindful of their brand perception through media channels.
“You’re either on the road or in the steamroller when it comes to keeping up with changes in the industry,” said Skinner.
Rogers explained that exhibitors are able to increase ROI by focusing on creating emotional attachments with known attendees. Attendees complete their research on exhibitors prior to attending while exhibitors can typically access registration lists prior to the start of the show.
“Sixty percent of purchase decisions are made before any connection is made,” Rogers asserted.
During a panel with the leaders of several trade associations, the topics of engagement and technology were brought forth. EDPA Executive Director Jeff Provost, IAEE President and CEO David Dubois, MPI COO Michael Woody, SISO Executive Director Lew Shomer and SMG Global Senior Vice President Convention Centers Bob McClintock chaired the panel discussion.
Shomer believed technology to be a good opportunity but not yet a solution to increasing engagement, stating approximately 25-30 percent of attendees actually makes use of event apps. The organization has gone so far as to host an Event Tech Battlefield to newly emerging technology. To educate future generations on the industry’s impact, SISO commissioned videos and case studies on face-to-face marketing to be added to university curricula.
With a shift toward experiential experiences, Provost shared that technology is often incorporated into both the core of the EDPA association as well as directly into booth design to increase engagement with attendees.
McClintock concluded with facilities’ use of technology to enhance the exhibitor experience through apps, capture data, and ultimately to turn Wi-Fi from a utility into a built-in function at SMG-managed buildings.
Big Data is a term often heard, but seldom understood in the tradeshow industry. Prof. Jeff Tanner Jr. of Old Dominion University and David Andrews of Epsilon explained the significance of the term – a label for a larger movement meant to help exhibitors better market to their target audience. By accounting for the “counterfactual,” or the data that is unknown, exhibitors can outmaneuver competitors by learning trends and appealing to attendees’ tastes.
Examining the scientific definition of “engagement,” conference attendees learned that the verb is the act of sharing in the activities in a group. Keynote Speakers insightXM CEO Leonora Valvo and Chief Neuroscience Officer Joseph Carrabis introduced the Experiential Trilogy – attention, engagement and trust. The two suggested exhibitors engage attendees by providing experiences that blend the existing with new possibilities along with integration of the digital and physical experiences.
The success of a collection bargaining agreement negotiation in San Francisco was shared by Shannon Scherer, vice president and general manager, Nth Degree in one of the learning sessions. A coalition formed by the representatives of several general contractors and exhibitor-appointed contractors in the Bay area led to a mutually agreed-upon contract. Having the proactive representation and open lines of communication enabled the entire group to work as a unit – a point heavily emphasized by Scherer.
Once again hosting Dinner with Strangers, RDC attendees enjoyed an evening at Hingham Shipyard at Boston staples such as Alma Nove, Beer Works and Wahlburgers.