July 23, 2024 8:55 AM
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Talk on the Tradeshow Floor: A Town Hall Meeting & a Survey to ‘Reimagine’

by Jeanne Brei

The buzz on the tradeshow floor this week is mixed between talk about last week’s EXHIBITORLIVE in Louisville, Kentucky, and shows that are back meeting live and in person all over the country. Pictures abound on Facebook of booths being set up and dismantled at the Craft Brewers Conference & BreExpo America (runs May 7-10 at Music City Center | Nashville), Channel Partners Conference & Expo (ran May 1-4 at the Venetian in Las Vegas), MicroStrategy World 2023, (ran May 1-4 in Orlando at the Signia by Hilton & Waldorf Astoria at Bonnet Creek).

The 2023 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) (ran May 1-4 at NRG Park in Houston), the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) International 2023 (ran April 24-29 at the Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium in  Indianapolis), American Academy of Neurology (AAN) (ran April 22-27 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center) and many more, including EXHIBITORLIVE 2023, which ran April 23-26 at the KICC in Louisville.

Vibe on the Tradeshow Floor

booths collage ExhibitorLive 2023ExhibitorLive 2023’s location in Louisville was a big hit with many attendees and exhibitors enjoying its more central U.S. location and many appreciating the opportunity to visit a convention center and city that was new to them. The vibe on the tradeshow floor was upbeat and positive as exhibitors talked about how they’re busier now than they were before the lockdowns (pictured right, clockwise, are the Nth Degree booth, UniGroup Logistics silkscreening T-shirts, Invisible Industry Tour’s 49-foot QuadX Triune trailer with Don Svehla, Dan Cantor, Rebecca Thompson, Bruce Deckel and Jeanne Brei, and Classic Exhibit’s booth).

The Connection Zone

But after 30+ years in Las Vegas, the show is being “re-imagined” and a Town Hall was held on Tuesday, April 25, in the Connection Zone after the EXHIBITORLIVE awards program, to get exhibitors and attendees feedback for future editions of the show. For this edition, they redrew the show floor to provide more high-traffic floor space and EXHIBITORLIVE was turned into an acronym where LIVE stands for Learn, Interact, View and Explore—to make it easier to explain what the show is all about. The show floor was laid out in those four quadrants with flash sessions in the Learn quadrant, a fun game called Roll-A-Derby in the Interact quadrant, the New Product Showcase in the View quadrant and Second Stride, a nonprofit providing retraining and placement for retired race horses, in the Explore quadrant.

The Official Bugler

Bets the horse with Sarah Thompson from Condit Exhibits at ExhibitorLive 2023Steve Buttleman, the official bugler for the Kentucky Derby, kicked off the show on Monday and Bets, a retired thoroughbred horse (pictured right with Sarah Thompson from Condit Exhibits), spent Tuesday on the show floor at the Second Stage booth. Complimentary headshots were taken, complimentary EE-WDF booth staff at ExhibitorLive 2023T-shirts were silk-screened and an opportunity to take your photo and be on the Exhibitor magazine cover (pictured left with the booth staff from the Invisible Industry Tour) were all available on the show floor. There were live musicians in the center of the floor during the show (as well as live musicians in the Hamilton booth); there were several selfie photo booths as well as some interactive games, including cornhole and the Claw. Prior to the show, there was a blanket party at Thunder Over Louisville for the air show and fireworks display and there was also a CEO roundtable at Churchill Downs, with about 30 leaders discussing the biggest issues facing the industry.

The Town Hall Meeting Recap

Dan Raynak at ExhibitorLive 2023But the buzz after the Town Hall meeting was that it’s ill-advised to hand microphones to people without knowing what they’re going to say ahead of time. After all, several long-time major exhibitors (including Freeman, MC2 and others) didn’t exhibit at the show—choosing to wait and see how the show would be after the show’s parent company (Exhibitor Media Group) was sold last year to Star Groupe. A few exhibitors expressed that they felt that the number of qualified leads had dropped but President and CEO of Exhibitor Group Dan Raynak (pictured right at the Town Hall meeting) assured them that overall attendance was up.

Others voiced their concern that they didn’t know when or where the next show would be in 2024 and they wanted to be able to make plans. Raynak replied that they’re more than 95 percent sure that it will be held in Nashville in 2024 and that he will confirm the dates once the contracts are signed. The Denver convention center was also in the running for 2024 and Raynak was asking for feedback on where people would like to see the show be held in the future. Nashville and Denver both received more applause than Las Vegas in the Town Hall meeting.

EVOLIO Marketing Survey to Follow Up After Show

Wisely, Exhibitor Group retained EVOLIO Marketing, an independent research agency, to conduct a survey to obtain honest (and anonymous) feedback about the event sent to exhibitors early this week. They not only offered a $10 gift card to the first 100 responders, they promised that every “response is extremely important to help shape future EXHIBITORLIVE events, education, and activities, and to help ensure you and your company get the most out of the event.”

In the EVOLIO marketing survey, one of the questions asked is: “How appealing would it be to you if EXHIBITORLIVE were to be held two to three times throughout the year in conjunction with other major tradeshows, instead of being a standalone event? For example, if EXHIBITORLIVE had a smaller exhibit hall and education/CTSM program sessions and was held before or after major tradeshows like CES?”

Networking Events, Parties & Classes Were All Home Runs

Jeanne Brei at Louisville Slugger MuseumAs always, the networking events, parties and educational classes (100 sessions available on seven different tracks with 33 new sessions) hit the balls out of the park. Highlights included Classic Exhibit’s wonderful Otis Nixon at Louisville Slugger Museumparty at the Louisville Slugger Museum with major leaguer Otis Nixon (pictured left with Classic Exhibit’s Harold Mintz) sharing his memories, tours of the museum, baseball batting cages, a great buffet and open bar. The EDPA Future Leaders met at the Omni Louisville Hotel on Sunday and went to TopGolf on Tuesday. EDPA Engage was at the Copper & Kings Distillery on Sunday night and EDPA All Chapters Collide was held on Monday on the rooftop of the 8Up Elevated Drinkery & Jim Wurm and Don Svehla EACA 25thKitchen.

The Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association (EACA) honored its past presidents and companies that have been members since its founding at its 25th Anniversary celebration on Monday afternoon (pictured right, Jim Wurm and Women in Exhibitions ExhibitorLive 2023Don Svehla) and the Women In Exhibitions breakfast event (pictured left) on Tuesday morning with personal finance expert Lisa Brown was well-attended in the Connection Zone. IAEE’s Membership Engagement Committee hosted a meetup for IAEE members and friends at the Galt House 3rd Floor Conservatory on Tuesday as well.

The 2023 Best of Show finalists and winners 

Exhibitus Best Booth Staff collagePrior to the Town Hall meeting, the 2023 Best of Show finalists and winners were announced and received their awards. The Best Booth Staff award went to Exhibitus (pictured right) (finalists included Agam Group, Interactive Entertainment Group, iCapture and Aardvark Mobile Tours). The Best New Exhibitor award went to Creative Visual Solutions | Wondermakr  (finalists included Aardvark Mobile Tours, Yaham Recience Technology Co., ltd., Rockway Exhibits + Events and Warehouse Twenty One Inc.).

Hamilton Exhibit ExhibitorLive 2023The Best of Show – Large Booth award went to Hamilton for their gorgeous booth of hanging silver ornaments, live musicians, and hospitality (pictured left), (finalists included Deckel & Moneypenny, Spiro, part of the GES Collective, Impact XM and Creative Visual Solutions | Wondermakr). The Best of Show – Small Booth award went to Highway 85 Creative’s fabulous Willy Wonka theme complete with candy bars and skateboards being given away daily (pictured right). Other small booth finalists included Rockway Exhibits + Events, Hill & Partners, Classic Highway 85 Creative ExhibitorLive 2023Exhibits Inc. and TRU Service Group.

The Buyer’s Choice Awards Winners were:

  • HoleHog Brackets – Top Shelf Exhibits Inc.
  • Fast Clamp – beMatrix USA 
  • TimeTracker 2.0 – ExhibitForce
  • FlexBox – Aluvision Inc.
  • Flexdeck – Aluvision Inc. 
  • beConstruct – beMatrix USA 
  • Superior Logistics

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