Trade Show Crowd Control
What stops you from attending trade shows?
I’m writing this page after just returning from PAACE, the big automotive trade show in Mexico City. It is truly the liveliest show I have attended in my more than 20 years in this industry. I have been to SEMA and AAPEX, tool shows, tire shows, program group shows, regional shows and national shows. This show has energy to spare.
What makes a show successful in the eyes of the exhibitor is quality traffic. This means there must be visits by the larger distribution groups, parts store owners, major retailers, and shop owners and technicians like you. While a lot of dynamics factor into getting show traffic, most shows do pretty well at getting the suits from the distribution groups and retailers, but fail at getting the guys who work in the shops and stores every day to leave their job and go to the show.
The PAACE show had a nice mix of the right people. To get the right mix you need a lot — and I mean a lot — of shop owners, technicians, counterpeople and students in automotive programs. These are the people who crowd the aisles, ask the good questions, touch and feel the new products, take the trinkets and show genuine interest in the exhibited products if they think they’re good. If they don’t like them, they will walk on by. This is where the trade show turns into a live human research project, where the all-important, one-on-one communication with attendees can build the foundation for brand loyalty.
The PAACE show got the right mix because the show hours are from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. As the day went on, the crowd grew as more and more workers got off early and came to see what was new in their industry. While the show ran from Tuesday through Friday, the show hours were set to make it more convenient for the people they really wanted and needed to attend. And, the energy and excitement in and around the booths kept them there until closing hours.
The AAPEX and SEMA shows that take place in Las Vegas (this year they start on October 30) offer a look at all the new products, tools and equipment from around the globe, in addition to training and seminars. You will get your fill of racing celebrities, custom cars and every auto accessory you can imagine. You should try and make an effort to attend, and I’m sure you can find something to do in Las Vegas at night.
Maybe the industry should consider scheduling the show over the weekend to make it more convenient for you to leave your shop and see what’s new. Would this help to get you to attend? Let me know at [email protected]