7 Reasons to Host a Hospitality Event During a Trade Show

November 12, 2019

Mike Duseberg

Mike Duseberg is the founder of TradeShowFunnel.comDedicated to helping exhibitors connect with more qualified prospects, Mike is fascinated by measurable, accountable and profitable trade show marketing.

Trade shows are the best face-to-face sales and marketing venues in the world. Thousands of current clients and future prospects are gathered in one place, and they’re all focused on industry-wide problems that your company solves. The sales and marketing activity doesn’t have to stop when the show floor closes, however.  

Hospitality suites and customer events represent a largely untapped opportunity. Everyone is going to eat dinner, go out for drinks and probably seek some kind of entertainment – why shouldn’t your best clients and prospects do that with your sales team?

Whether you’re hosting a huge party for a thousand guests or a simple, off-site dinner for your closest clients, here are seven reasons you should do some kind of a hospitality event during your next trade show:

Building Rapport

People buy from people they know, like and trust. The biggest advantage you can give your salespeople is the opportunity to build real rapport with your clients, so they can cross the threshold from “salesperson” to “friend and trusted advisor.” That’s hard to do in a sales call or on the trade show floor, where everything revolves around a “buyer/seller” mentality. At the hospitality, we’re here to have fun and relax together, which lets your sales team connect with your prospects as friends.

Convert Your Competitor’s Customers

Successful hospitality events introduce guests to new venues, new food and drink, and new experiences. Research shows these events are “mind opening” – when we try new things and enter new worlds, we see ourselves differently and open ourselves to trying even more new things. By inviting your competitor’s clients to these special events, you open their minds to new perspectives about your industry, your products and your company. This can help your sales people “get their foot in the door” with clients who would normally be firmly committed to your competitor.

Drive Traffic to the Trade Show Booth

Clients need a good reason to stop and engage with your trade show booth staff. By displaying your equipment in the hospitality, mentioning the problems it solves in the welcome speech and on signage, and even integrating these messages into your entertainment, you can help your prospects make a plan to visit your booth and learn more.

Set Appointments

In casual conversation at a hospitality suite, your sales team can ask a few casual questions about your customer’s business, identify some pain points and then schedule an on-site meeting, a phone call or another “next step.”


There is no greater referral tool than a hospitality suite. When your best clients bring their friends and colleagues to your hospitality space, they are literally introducing these people to your company, your products and your sales people. It doesn’t get any smoother than that.

Make Offers

You could offer a special deal for guests attending the hospitality or trade show, but you can also use your event to offer free white papers and research, complimentary test-drives of software and portal websites, and complimentary need analyses. This could be done as part of a speech or explained on a card or one-sheet in a gift bag. Using opt-in forms, you can tell which of your prospects took advantage of the offer, so you know who your sales team should follow up with and what they should talk about.

Show Appreciation

Of course, people do like to feel appreciated. Don’t forget to thank your current customers for their business (while you commit them to a next step).

Hospitality events are a tremendous opportunity to connect with your ideal clients. Creating a memorable event that connects your sales team to your prospects, positions your sales team for effective follow up, and really drives bottom-line results, takes strategy and forethought.  

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.