Trade shows have been around since medieval times when they were known as trade fairs and merchants and craftsmen rolled into town to display their latest goods and offerings.
These days, most industries have trade shows and they have become a big business. Last week I attended the first of more than a half dozen shows that will occur just in the southern part of Florida before the end of this year. It seems as if every year brings more and more shows with exciting venues and innovative agendas.
I enjoy attending the shows as it gives me a chance to catch up with colleagues, see old friends and clients and naturally, check out what the competition is doing. Still, I wonder how many community association directors and members attend these shows and what factors go into their decision to attend.
When your board is debating whether or not to attend a trade show, which of these factors matter most to you?
- Venue location. Do you like the ritzy locations like resort hotels, casinos, convention centers and the like or would something smaller suit you better?
- -Parking. Some shows require parking in a garage and paying to boot. Is the convenience of parking a consideration?
- Do you find trade shows held during the week more convenient than those on the weekend? What about morning and early afternoon hours vs. an early evening event?
- Educational offerings. Does it matter if classes are offered for board certification and continuing manager education? Some shows have them while others don't.
- Raffles and giveaways at the booths. Be honest, do the goodies get you there?
- The company you keep. Do you want to see the principals of the vendor companies you use, the staff members or the particular manager or lawyer you use behind their booth?
Vendors pay a lot of money both in set-up costs and manpower to attend these shows. From a service provider's perspective, how much time do you spend at shows speaking with your target audience and how much time is spent speaking with fellow service providers? Fellow service providers can also provide some wonderful networking so time spent in those conversations is time well spent in my opinion.
From a board member's perspective, how many of you attend association trade shows and have you ever hired a service provider based upon their booth, materials or presence at a show? Lastly, how many trade shows would your board attend in any given year? Do you love them, hate them or have no feelings one way or the other about them?