A “different” Parking Event

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A “different” Parking Event

I was playing golf Saturday in Edmonton prior to the Canadian Parking Association’s Annual meeting and one of the members of the foursome, who shall remain nameless, was talking about trade shows, and the cost to exhibitors.

He told me that with more and more shows, both national and regional, the exhibitors are being forced to make some difficult choices.  There are four major national events (IPI, NPA, PIE, and CPA) plus a myriad of regional shows (like California, New York, MAPA, New Jersey, Florida, Texas and the like.)

The big shows consume companies for at least 10 days what with preparation, shipping of equipment, set up, the show itself, and then getting back to normal afterwards.  The smaller shows can take up to a week.  If the company plans to attend four major shows and four smaller ones, up to THREE MONTHS can be consumed with parking shows.  That’s time that is not focused on what these companies are supposed to do.  This distraction, he said, is the real problem, not the money these events cost.

One of the major issues is the fact that they have to have the large flashy booths, and send so many people to run them.  What would happen, he said, if his company elected to take only a small booth at these shows? Would people think they were "downsizing" or "going out of business".

As we talked I began to wonder at the efficacy of these events. 

First, all the organizations struggle to get speakers. Lets face it, there are only so many good speakers around.  Second the event is a major fund raiser for the organization;.  They need the money. Third, the exhibitors are becoming increasingly restless.  I hear the words at every show:  "Why can’t we combine all this into one big event". 

My response to the last one:  "I tried to talk to the NPA and IPI about this and was politely, but firmly rebuffed. The money is just too great, and the egos too strong.  Oh it may happen, but I think its going to require some pressure from the exhibitors to make it so.:

As for the money for the smaller events – why not have their ‘shows’ but not have exhibits.  Have sponsors.  The exhibiting companies could send money, and maybe one representative to network, but no shipping, no displays, other than maybe a table with brochures, little time out of the field.  The orgs would have their funding, the companies would be able to network and meet their clients, and everyone would be happy.

As for the major events, I would set up a giant trade event every other year combining the four major shows.  Move it geographically around. It would be a Giant event.  You would get twice the attendance you get at any other show.  The exhibitors could use it to showcase new products.  They would be happy to pay considerably more for the event if they didn’t have to go to four every year.  The money would be available for the organizations, and everyone would be happy.  Of course that means that the four groups would have to work together, bury the hatchet, show some respect for each other, and begin to understand that they are each part of a larger industry.

Oh, the smaller booths.  I told him I thought it would be a good start — however, he should feature something his company does that no one else does.  Sell the differences.  Make the single booth, in his case, a high tech spot where people would be attracted for the special "whatever it is" that they only have.  Lets face it, the trade show is about getting someone’s interest, and then expanding the conversation later.  Few actually buy at the show, although the process is started there.  If you get a person to think about what you have, and then go to see them with all your sales tools, it would seem to me to be a better thing than just trying to impress them with elephants and dancing girls.

Just my opinion…

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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