This Just In
  • Freeman takes a giant step into the burgeoning realm of augmented reality and virtual reality with its acquisition of San Francisco-based
  • Helios Interactive.
  • Charlotte is moving forward with plans to renovate and add new meeting space to the city’s convention center. Work begins in 2019.
  • The $110 million project includes new pre-function space and 26,000 sf of meeting space. A new skyway will connect to the Westin hotel.
  • Diversified Communications announced the acquisition of Luxperience, an Australian hosted buyer event focused on luxury travel.
  • It is one of Diversified’s first forays into the hosted buyer segment. The move is expected to complement the company’s
  • British Tourism & Travel brand.
  • Hong Kong’s exhibition industry urged support for an expansion of the city’s convention center. The HKECIA said it will meet future demand.
  • The proposal would raze three buildings near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and add about 23,000 sm of connected space.

Old School is Sometimes the New School

Stephanie Selesnick
, TSE Blogger
April 26, 2016
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Stephanie SalesnickI was recently reminded of a longstanding fable: During the height of the Space Race in the 1960s, NASA scientists realized that pens could not function in space – and spent years and millions to develop a pen that worked in zero gravity. The legend continues that the Russians solved the problem by giving their cosmonauts pencils. 

What I adore about this story is that common sense trumped technology. In today’s lingo: Old School was New School.

There’s a message here for the exhibition industry. We’ve got our technology on! Our CRM systems are linked to floor plan management, which are linked to accounting software. We’ve got automated marketing. We’ve got “big data” on our customers – both exhibitors and visitors alike. We’ve got apps trying to take the place of printed show programs. We’re digitally connected in a myriad of ways. 

We also have social media – the connector to end all connectors – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. 

And…after that huge spend in equipment and training, what works the best to get quality attendees into our exhibitions? Exhibitors’ direct, personalized invitations to customers and prospects. Not social media invites. Not the annoying, canned, “branded” emails provided by show management. Not brochures or postcards or (gasp) faxes. Personal invites. Issuing one-on-one invitations illustrates Old School outperforming New School. 

Another area where Old School should be New School is personal visitation with clients. We, in the face-to-face, business-to-business world communicate primarily via digital sources. Rare phone calls. No face time. Communication with most clients – even our largest, most important ones  – is solely via email and social media. 

Think of the goodwill if a VP, president, or executive director from your organization accompanies the salesperson to see major clients – in their offices – and brings breakfast or lunch? Our suppliers do a much better job of this than we do.

What does that face-to-face encounter do? What will the result be? Your clients will feel honored. They’ll feel special. They’ll feel like they matter, and are not just another related to your bottom line.

You may think, “It’s too expensive.” What’s more expensive? Visiting a bellwether, or losing one? Getting a new sponsorship and solidifying the client relationship, or leaving money on the table?

I’ve also heard, “We don’t have the time out of the office.” If those who run the company and show cannot make time to visit important clients – get a “boots on the ground” feel for what’s happening in the industry, and help make a sale (or upsell), then don’t say you’re surprised when those important clients go elsewhere or shrink their footprint in your show.

There are a lot of great tools we use on a daily basis to run our shows better and deliver a better customer experience. Not always. Sometimes the pencil is mightier (and less expensive) than the pen. Old School can and sometimes should be New School.

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