Helping Small Companies Navigate Exhibiting

June 30, 2012

Karen Romano

Karen Romano, director of sales, Delta Region at GES, has over 20 years experience in the trade show industry encompassing facility, exhibitor and vendor sales.

I’ve always appreciated our industry’s effect on the economy. It’s a fact, whether you work in facility management, show management or as an official services provider, the trade show industry positively impacts the U.S. and world economies.

As long as buyers exist, we’ll continue to have B2B and F2F opportunities – and trade shows are the best option for companies to market themselves and their products.

Unfortunately, many small business owners don’t see the value of investing their resources in trade shows (and a show organizer can tell you it’s one of the toughest sales obstacles to overcome).

Managing through the downward spiral of the U.S. and world economies has become a common necessity for businesses these past few years – especially “Mom and Pops.”

I’ve observed show organizers seeing 20-25 percent annual turnover in their exhibitor base. A majority of these are the 10×10 exhibitors or the “Mom and Pops.” The cost to small business owners to market their services or products isn’t as simple as pulling out the checkbook.

Sometimes, parting with the cost of doing a trade show is an emotional decision and could be the difference of whether or not their books stay in the black.

How can we, as trade show professionals, assist beginners in navigating their way through the financial expectations of exhibiting? It’s not that trade shows can be expensive – they ARE expensive.

Trade show costs, combined with a bad economy are forcing the smaller, 10×10, first-time exhibitors to reassess their participation. Through education, the first-time exhibitor can learn what to expect and how to maximize their investment.

Show organizers and service providers can help them plot a course of action and help them to assess the value of their decision. This creates a “win-win” for everyone. Most importantly, this interaction helps us to understand exhibitors’ concerns and ensure that their investment will pay-off.

Conventions and trade shows will always be one of the most valuable marketing decisions a small company can make.

Nowhere else can small businesses meet thousands of buyers looking to spend money. The fact is, companies who continue to market themselves and their products through tough economic times are the companies that survive.

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Partner Voices

As event professionals, our job is to host people and while we can’t prepare for everything, it’s essential to develop an emergency plan that can be adapted to any situation. In Boston, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority’s (MCCA) Public Safety Team at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) and the Hynes Convention Center, have taken their experiences to develop a comprehensive crisis management training program, starting with crisis communications.