Want to Maximize Your Trade Show Experience? Go Mobile

September 26, 2019

This is the first article in a two-part series.

Trade shows continue to be good places to build buzz and impress decision-makers. But do all trade show appearances generate the returns needed to make the trip worthwhile?

The Consumer Electronics Show works because it’s an “in” place for seeing products and being seen. Its success is due partly to serving such a niche audience (and the fact that it’s held in Las Vegas doesn’t hurt). Decision-makers and influencers attend CES to raise their brand’s profile and share their prophetic vision of the market’s future needs.

CES continues to impress as grand stampedes of influencers and buyers flood the show year after year. The 2019 iteration was not only massive but also remarkably well-attended. This year’s organizers predicted 180,000 visitors from 155 countries, and the event featured 4,500 exhibitors.

However, not all industry trade shows boast this panache, and the market doesn’t seem to notice when the convention center floors are empty. Because many decision-makers don’t travel as much as they did two decades ago, quality attendance has waned at events. Only a handful of attendees are there to buy.

This means that pure attendance — the staple metric of marketers trying to prove return on investment here — might not be as useful as it seems. Just over 20% of marketers quantified event and exhibition ROI not by sales generated but by the number of attendees. Isn’t having people buy products the ideal?

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Let’s put the lack of quality attendance at trade shows aside. There are other factors working against your efforts if you settle into the comfort and ease of a trade show-only experiential routine.

First, you’ll be surrounded by competitors. Decision-makers meander from one booth to the next and visitors are typically browsing, not buying. After a long day of networking and conversations, your odds of being remembered aren’t always terrific. Besides this, visitors might not be in an impressionable frame of mind, and many are just taking in all the information they can. Converting prospects means separating them from the crowd. That can be tricky.

Second, you might have room to grow. A client recently told me that he knows he won’t get business from trade show appearances — but that he and his team still make their yearly trips because they’ve always done marketing that way. I was stunned. Following a routine isn’t leadership behavior and settling into the status quo isn’t exactly helpful if it’s not driving conversions.

Research shows that most companies don’t follow up on trade show leads once the show is over. The daily grind resumes when exhibitors land back at the office and leads are pushed toward the back burner. Consider the typical budget for a trade show appearance. Yours might differ, but you can get an estimate by multiplying the cost of a booth space by three. Bring a bag of marshmallows to your next appearance — you’ll be burning money if it doesn’t generate sales.

Despite the potential for lost revenue, though, there’s a solution that allows you to exhibit your product and ensure a succession of benefits — and it involves taking your brand on a good old fashioned road trip. A mobile roadshow allows you to not only meet current and potential customers where they are (literally), but also to provide a truly immersive experience without the added challenge of competition.

For more insight into how mobile roadshows could transform your brand strategy, excite prospects and customers, and bring impressive overall returns, stay tuned for the second article in this series.


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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact