“What you see is what you get”. This is especially true with regard to exhibitor behavior at both public and industry trade shows. It’s easy to tell immediately which companies put obvious time and effort into their exhibiting strategy. The company’s exhibit will offer a welcoming feel and booth staff will positively interact with visitors, taking the time to ask questions and provide answers.
The flipside of the “what-you-see” truism is, “What you don’t see is also what you get”. This is referring to all those exhibitors who just have to get a head start on tear down and be the first out the door towards the end of the show.
When an exhibitor leaves early, they are still showing… but what?
Disregard for neighboring exhibitors. It is very difficult to engage a potential client in serious discussion when your neighbor is dismantling their exhibit.
Disrespect for visitors trying to navigate the aisles. Early tear down leaves a poor impression of the show in the minds of visitors. It is also potentially dangerous to have people milling around unsecured booth parts and equipment.
Disdain for show management. An exhibitor may think he or she is sending a message to management that the show wasn’t successful. Instead, this individual looks unprofessional, disrespectful and risks the chance of not being invited to future events. Most show managers discourage, and in some cases prohibit, leaving early. There are often severe penalties for breaking this part of the exhibitor agreement including loss of priority points or poor location for future shows. Yet there are always a few exhibitors who think the rules were written for everyone else.
Unfortunately, exhibitors who tear down early don’t realize whom they are hurting most… themselves!
To neighboring exhibitors, show visitors, and show management, tearing down early is usually just an annoyance that will soon vanish, but these exhibitors run the risk of doing serious long-term harm to their companies. These people are not only missing sales on the show floor, but also future sales from missed opportunities with potential clients.
Research has shown that 30% of all show floor sales are consummated during the final two hours of exhibit time. Many buyers use the first segments of a show to preview products and develop specifications for purchases. The actual purchase is made at the end of the show. It’s not uncommon to see a visitor walk away angry when he or she returns to a particular booth to do business only to learn that the exhibitor has “left early”.
It is difficult to understand why a company would spend money for show space, an exhibit, staff travel and lodging expenses to come to an event where clients and potential clients pay to visit them, and then leave potential dollars for the competition!
The next time you are tempted to leave a show early, remember that patience and perseverance are as necessary to success as an exciting booth and well-trained staff. Waiting (and working) for every client at a trade show is what separates winners who care about their customers from losers who give them the “bum’s rush”.
SOURCE: Jim Lynn, ShowSell.com