June 18, 2024 5:54 AM
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Speaking Out at ExhibitorLive

by Bob McGlincy

The Exhibitor show this year had stunning exhibits and excellent educational sessions. I spoke with a number of industry executives, and here’s what some of them had to say:

“Post pandemic, what changes are you seeing?

Herb Besaw, CEO & President, SPOON Events.

“After two years of an industry shut down for COVID “break”, we have experienced a rejuvenation of live event activity, with shows coming back slowly at first in 2022, to coming back to almost a “normal” schedule of events in 2023.  In spite of the higher costs due to supply chain and labor issues, clients have embraced the return to Live Events in full force. Upper levels of management, who questioned the return on live event marketing, pre-COVID, have seen the value of face-to-face marketing and worked to put their companies back at full event schedule levels. The biggest changes and challenges have been to come up to speed quickly with talented skilled labor, in all areas of the events space, to meet the growing demand for solutions and services. SPOON is committed to ensure our clients received the same or better service as they did pre-COVID with a dedicated, talented, and strong team. Post-COVID has also shown us how critical it is to have a talented and accountable partner network to offer complete and successful event services to all our clients. Partners are more important than ever to the overall success of event projects.”

Jim Kelley. Vice President, Marketing & Industry Relations. Fern.

As we look ahead, I believe we are in an inspiring time for trade shows and live events.  The absence of live events certainly validated the need for and importance of live events. As things turn back on, one of the key focuses we are seeing is a prioritization around the attendees’ needs and experience and what they are looking to walk away from as a result of the event experience.  While the tools and methods that are being utilized might be more ‘technology based’ than years ago, the principles are rooted in keeping the focus on the attendee and creating a meaningful engagement for them at the event.   We know that when the overall attendee experience is positive, there is a direct correlation between the experience and return for exhibitors as well.”


Michael McMahon. President & CEO.  Hill & Partners.

It is beginning to feel like “Post” post pandemic, as we enter our third full year since the near extinction event for our industry in 2020. We’re better and stronger as an organization than our extremely successful conclusion to 2019.  We plan on thriving in a future where the key challenge for all businesses will be acquiring and training highly productive people and teams. We believe that experienced professionals within the experiential economy are well suited to the variety of challenges we will face in the coming years. The future is bright!

New and Exciting for Hill & Partners is our brand-new facility in Orlando.  30K plus square feet dedicated to our inoffice team in Orlando, along with the necessary space to fulfill most of our projects in the southeast. We’re at eight full time team members there since opening on January 2nd.


Brian Walters. Chief Creative Officer. Communication Exhibits, Inc.

As we climb back out of a very dark time brought on by the pandemic, things seem a little rusty at getting started again.  The good news is companies and attendees are anxious to get going and are happy to meet in person. We have experienced some of the busiest times in our company’s history in the last six to nine months.  Each event that I have attended since the fall of 2021 has gotten more at ease with doing business as before. The down side I have witnessed, is the shortage of experienced labor professionals and those who operate forklifts. We have noticed a significant increase in exhibit material damages.  All in all, it is great to see the endurance and the fortitude of those involved in our industry to affirm tradeshows are an essential part of our economy with the inherent exchange of ideas and business opportunities unlike any other forum.

“What’s New and Exciting?”


Chris Dunn. Vice President Sales & Business Development.  BlueHive Exhibits.

From my perspective, it’s not so much about the structure or booth design…when answering the question, what’s new and exciting on the show floor. But rather, more companies that are focusing on engagement and experiential in their booth space. Neither is brand new, but we do see more and more exhibitors wanting to create more outside the box experiences…even in smaller spaces. It’s not enough to just show up with a pretty booth design…you need to create the interest, draw them in, and engage…so that they leave with a wonderful memory of how your brand made them feel.


Laura Palker, Founder/President of the Exhibitions and Events Workforce Development Federation.
 “It became evident during the lockdowns that we needed to be visible. We needed to represent ourselves as an industry. And yet we needed to recognize that our autonomy is our strength.  We are so highly skilled and have independent individual needs at every single job classification. I think that focused us on becoming a federation so that we could address these overarching concerns together and yet create programs that were independently run by each facet of the live events industry.”

Formerly the National Trade Show Alliance, the “Federation” was founded as a result of the pandemic with a mission to connect the industry’s workforce in order to advocate, support and develop the Live Events industry.

Dave Sterne. Founder & CEO. The Inside Track.

Industry designers have asked for some alternatives to plank rollable vinyl, so The Inside Track has added our new elegant line as a stock offering. These 7 eye catching designs are available exclusively to exhibit builders, and include Herringbone, white marble and a colorful coin pattern, which can communicate a variety of experiential themes. Seamless texture maps for these and other styles are on their website, which makes dropping them into your rendering a breeze.

A final observation:  The mood on the show floor was upbeat and positive, with myriad companies stating they are busier now than before the pandemic.  Challenges abound, but business is boomi

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