NSSF Holds First-ever SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy

July 3, 2014
NSSF Holds First-ever SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy alt

You know you are giving your event attendees the type of content they want when no one is in line for the open bar at a meet-and-greet, but instead all are busy clamoring for information. That’s exactly what happened last week in Las Vegas at the very first SHOT (The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show Exhibitor Academy.

Just more than 100 attendees representing SHOT Show exhibiting companies arrived in Las Vegas to spend two days learning how to get more out of their presence at the event, which is owned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“The exhibitor academy was something that ConvExx (show’s management company) mentioned in their presentation to us last year. That kind of creative, value-added experiential exhibitor education makes our customers more successful in the long run, and that helps make for a stronger show,” said Chris Dolnack, senior vice-president and CMO of NSSF.

Companies in attendance were a mix of new and long-time exhibitors, startups and industry stalwarts, small 10x10 exhibitors, and exhibitors with a footprint more than 3,000 square feet.

One long-time exhibitor, Ten-X Ammunition, Inc., a husband-and-wife team, said they thought the Academy was important enough to attend, even though they were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary during the event.

Steve Sanetti, president and CEO of NSSF said, “The SHOT Show Exhibiter Academy was an astoundingly comprehensive resource for all exhibitors, whether they are first-timers or old-timers. The array of topics covered and helpful hints to make each exhibit a must-see event for all attendees was incredible.”

Some of the topics covered in the Academy’s sessions included social media, working with the media, tips on building a booth, navigating the exhibitor resource center, and budgeting. Attendees also had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with key SHOT Show personnel to get answers to their specific questions.

There was an openness and transparency throughout the entire event. SHOT Show organizers did not shy away from any tough questions. During the Academy kick-off, Dolnack told attendees, “Tell us what you think. We’re not hiding.”

One attendee said he appreciated the fact that all members of the SHOT Show team were introduced during the kick-off, so that he could now put a face to the name of the people he had been dealing with, whether they were NSSF employees or ConvExx or Freeman representatives. “They even included names, photos and contacts of everyone in the information they handed out to us.”

Was the event a success? Dolnack thinks so. “Our first SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy was all that we hoped for and, based on feedback, provided information that will benefit exhibitors six months from now at the SHOT Show,” he said.

Dolnack added, “We were very pleased that 97 percent of the attendees said that they would recommend SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy to other exhibitors and that the experience was worth their time.”

Given that satisfaction rating it makes you wonder, why aren’t more shows taking advantage of this type of relationship building with their exhibitors?

Editor’s Note: Traci Browne was one of the presenters at this year’s SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy

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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.