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The Tradeshow Triangle

CDS makes each group it serves a priority

The Tradeshow Triangle
The Tradeshow Triangle

At the Heart of Everything

Think of a tradeshow as an equilateral triangle, with the registration and lead retrieval services provider operating at its core. From this central position, it’s the responsibility of the registration company to deliver the same high-level service to the parties at each of the triangle’s three points – A, B and C.

Before the show floor opens, the show producer rests at the highest peak of the triangle (At different points throughout the show, priority could shift to either attendees or exhibitors.) The show producer usually contracts the registration provider to create a good customer experience for exhibitors and attendees as well as improve its technology, capture data and help with its bottom line.

Sharing the ground level of the triangle are the attendees at point B and the exhibitors at point C. It’s fitting these two groups are within reach of each other: Their need for face-to-face interaction is constant, and it is the duty of the official registration and lead retrieval services company to provide technology that makes this back and forth as seamless as possible.

For more than 200 annual tradeshows, Convention Data Services (CDS) has operated at the heart of this triangle, including during Digital Signage Expo (DSE) 2015 at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 10-13.

Onsite Exhibitor Services Manager Kevin Zacaula provides training.
Onsite Exhibitor Services Manager Kevin Zacaula provides training.

A: The Show Producer

Before partnering with CDS, Digital Signage Expo producer Exponation worked with two other registration companies that used barcode badging systems. During that time, attendees used tickets to gain entry into education sessions.

Swapping to QR Codes after CDS came on the scene four years ago changed how the show operates, according to Exponation President and COO Chris Gibbs.

He explained that QR Codes allow exhibitors to buy additional licenses for CDS’ lead retrieval mobile app, X-Press Connect, which is used complementary to and subsequently at a lower cost than CDS’ handheld device, X-Press Connect Plus.

“A lot of people can have the apps on their phone, but it goes to the same database,” stated Becky Hansen, executive vice president of event services, CDS. “The QR Code only holds a small amount of information: name, badge number and company name. The added information goes to a cloud, so exhibitors won’t get all of the information unless they purchase access to this cloud. This protects show managers, making sure that not just anyone with a QR Code scanner could take this information, especially if someone loses their badge or chooses to recycle it.”

QR Codes on attendee badges also allowed Exponation to track data about DSE in real-time. Using the CDS mobile app or desktop version, the show producer could view registration numbers, such as the moment when DSE 2015 set a new record with close to 4,100 attendees.

Gibbs added that he used the CDS desktop version to track the attendance of education sessions and to gauge the level of attrition.

“We chose CDS due to ease of working with them from beginning to end, their customer service and we wanted to get attendees quickly through the system,” added Gibbs. “It’s more about seeing people happy onsite.”

Jane Wedin provides assistance at registration.
Jane Wedin provides assistance at registration.

B: The Attendees

From the exterior of North Hall at Las Vegas Convention Center to the registration area inside, DSE 2015 was designed to quickly check-in attendees.

Color-coded separate registration desks for different types of attendees (pre-registered, foreign nationals and new registration) and exhibitors awaited visitors as soon as the doors opened. Pre-show emails instructed attendees about which color station to use.

Attendees stopped at registration desks to pick up their badges, which were hot off the press, folded by CDS employees and in the badge holder waiting for them, according to Jane Wedin, senior onsite services manager at CDS.

This was made possible with CDS’ Onsite Wireless Will Call system, which saved an estimated 30 seconds per person, according to Hansen.

Using the system, 12 CDS employees stationed outside the venue greeted attendees and scanned their badges after they exited shuttles. Overall, CDS staff said they printed 436 of 5,798 badges with Onsite Wireless Will Call.

Attendees also self-scanned at registration desks set-up with 16 computers-scanners.

“We put through thousands of people with no line,” said Wedin.

Depending on the volume of people, Wedin added that CDS always tries to give the best customer service that is realistic at the time.

With their badges in place, attendees traversed the 83,000 square-foot show floor and spoke with more than 200 exhibitors.

Doug Bannister shows why "context is king."
Doug Bannister shows why “context is king.”

C. The Exhibitors

CDS provided the 136 exhibitors who rented its lead retrieval devices and the more than 60 who purchased its mobile app licenses with pre-show and onsite training. Many of these exhibitors simultaneously used the apps and handheld devices, which contributed to overlapping data.

Prior to the show, exhibitors viewed webinars and chatted with CDS exhibitor services account managers during conference calls.

Ron Carey, president of Studio Squared, added that he downloaded the CDS app in advance to test it, so he knew what to expect prior to exhibiting.

A common issue seen onsite, according to Kevin Zacaula, onsite exhibitor services manager for CDS, is the person who pre-trained with CDS isn’t always the one staffing the booth. Zacaula has trained exhibitors at 26 events a year to solve this problem.

“Ninety percent of exhibitors are trained onsite,” added Zacaula. “This is because they receive training when coming to the lead retrieval desk to pick up their equipment. The other 10 percent is due to people downloading the app on their smartphones, so they may not ask for training.”

CDS’ technology helped exhibitors organize, access and secure their leads, according to exhibitors from NoviSign Ltd. and Installation Service Technologies.

Before and during the show, CDS also assisted Omnivex Corp. with a task no client had previously requested — using CDS’ Application Programming Interface (API) to highlight data that was relevant to each attendee.

“Everyone says content is king, but context is king,” added Doug Bannister, CEO, Omnivex Corp.

Each time an attendee’s badge was scanned at the Omnivex booth, their name, location and local news appeared on a flat screen monitor.

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