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Guest Opinion: What Sets a Successful Trade Event Apart?

1 Dec, 2013 By: Craig Handley, Listen Up Español Response

Recently, I was in the middle of a conversation at an industry conference — in the conference’s official area — when someone from security told me I had to leave. I wasn’t streaking — not even halfway naked or drunk!

I was an exhibitor at this event, and I had my badge proudly displayed on my shirt. The problem, it seems, was that I wasn’t wearing the correct lanyard. I wasn’t happy. As a matter of fact, I think it was perhaps the worst treatment I’ve ever received at an event that I paid to attend. That negative experience got me thinking about some of the things I’ve enjoyed about conferences and trade shows — and why some seem to be more successful than others.

I’ve been to trade shows and conferences all over the world during the past 16 years, in a number of industries — Internet marketing, growth summits, fortune, industry, retail, telemarketing, etc. I spent a week on Necker Island with Richard Branson and 24 other entrepreneurs. I had a weekend meeting where the climax was jumping out of an airplane at 32,000 feet, and others that took place in exotic locations like Costa Rica, Hawaii, Cancun and Bali. I’ve sat in the front row enjoying speeches by Steve Covey, the Dalai Lama, Chip Conley, Magic Johnson and many others who shared their wisdom.

In the end, I think we all look for three things in attending these types of events — we want to make more money, have more fun, and give more back.

Make More Money

  • Knowledge/Value. Growing brain cells is a core value I appreciate and having a better connection to understand what’s going on in my business, or to see what I need to be doing to grow my business in the next three to five years, is what I look forward to learning. “Wow” me with a speaker I can’t miss — someone with a name in business that equates to a Hollywood movie star.
  • Networking. I want to spend time with the people I’ve met in the past and have ample opportunity to meet new people.
  • Execution. Help me to execute my growth plan — whether that’s obtaining a client, helping an existing client grow, or getting information to help develop a new idea.

Have More Fun

  • Location. I work hard. I’d like to be someplace I’ve always wanted to go. Sure, Vegas is great, but is that the best you can do?
  • Convenience. Convenience goes hand-in-hand with location. I want free Internet and my room to be near the show floor. I want to be near the action outside the show and the opportunity to stay at a less-expensive option near the event, as well, in case I’m on a budget.
  • Happiness. A lot of research suggests that being a part of a community makes us happy. One of the reasons I love life is all of the communities I’m a part of. I play basketball each week with the same group and I enjoy their company. Likewise, each trade show or conference should bring us back into those communities.
  • Adventure/Fun. I want to do something different — to change my thought process for a few days, break open new ideas and new ways of executing.

Give More Back

  • Sharing. I want to share my new ideas: what’s working and what’s not? How can I help you grow your business?
  • Charity. Coming together to support a local charity is something that I’ve enjoyed. The events I enjoy the most bring in a representative from a local charity who speaks about their business and asks for help from the audience. We raise money at these events through our payment to attend, and many times we’ve gone beyond that to give back.

Finally, going back to my most recent experience — treat me with respect. I am your customer. Go out of your way to make sure my needs are met. Make sure I can make more money, have more fun, and give me the opportunity to give more back. ■

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