10 Steps to Having a Successful Show

  Buyers will walk by your booth unless they feel engaged. There are thousands of exhibitors at the Show and only four days to try to visit them all, so get in front of potential buyers as they walk by your booth to capture their attention.

The SEMA Show Exhibitor Summit took place in May and offered participants valuable information, techniques and skills designed to guarantee a profitable and successful SEMA Show experience. The Summit featured key staff and trade show industry experts leading a series of programs created to ensure exhibitors get the most out of the industry’s annual trade event.

Weren’t able to attend the Summit? Not a problem. The valuable educational seminars were recorded and will be presented here in SEMA eNews.

This week’s SEMA Exhibitor Summit installment is based on the “Making a Show Plan” seminar led by Jeff Pressman, CEM, executive vice president and COO, SEMA Show Management.

Click here to watch the video presentation in its entirety.

A different seminar will be highlighted each week in the SEMA eNews. To view other Summit videos click here.

Step 1: Choosing a Booth

There are three types of booths to choose from: linear, peninsula and island. The size of your booth should depend on your budget, amount of equipment and number employees you plan to bring. Make sure you choose the right Show section; for instance if you specialize in racing and performance, choose to display in the Racing & Performance section. Be aware of where your competitors are located. Ask yourself whether your booth size and location will help you to achieve your objectives.

Step 2: Building Your Booth

When designing a booth, think about the weight of your materials because by utilizing lighter materials, you could save thousands of dollars in building and shipping costs.

Make signage interchangeable so you can reuse your booth in case the following year you decide to change branding or the name of a product. Hanging signs should be no more than 8 feet in height and signs facing a neighbor must be located at least 10 feet from their exhibit. Oftentimes, booths are too cluttered and people try to fit too much equipment in too small of a space.

To save costs, if possible, build the sign while you’re in Las Vegas and have Freeman hang it for you, but give them specific instructions as to what height to hang the sign. However, build the booth before bringing it to Vegas and take a photo of it for reference. Devise a backup plan if you end up having missing parts or if your booth gets lost in transit. Have a cell phone number of someone you can reach 24/7 if there are any issues.

Submit notifications as early as possible. Plans for double-decker booths with a covered area greater than 200 sq-ft. must be submitted to the fire marshal. If you plan to have people on the second level, you will need stamped architectural drawings sent in advance.

Plan early and ship your booth far enough in advance so if any problems arise, you can correct them before the Show. Pay attention to deadlines found in the weekly SEMA eNews.

Step 3: Confirm All Your Booth Services Early

The Exhibitor Services Manual
is your guide should you have any questions. Use it to your advantage for both labor and hotel rates and order your services early for advance rates. Speak with contractors to verify your order has been submitted properly and fully and confirm all your booth elements, including electrical and data service.

If you ship less than 1,000 lbs. of freight, Freeman, the general services contractor for the Show, will unload the vehicle, deliver equipment to the booth and return it to your vehicle following the Show closing [does not include booth installation]. Freight must arrive in a privately owned or rental vehicle (i.e. car, minivan, U-Haul, trailer or rig driven by an employee). Submit to Show management the Exhibit Space Design Notification and Hanging Sign Design Notification beforehand to make sure there will be no issues.

If you have a vehicle to display, wait until the carpet is down before putting it in your booth, and register early because Mothers offers free vehicle wipe-down service every day of the Show for the first 200 applicants.

Step 4: Take Advantage of the Opportunities Provided

There are unlimited programs and opportunities to get your products out there and connect with buyers besides on the Show floor, including the New Products Showcase, online matchmaking program, SEMA Show Banquet and Media Center press releases, just to name a few, so sign up early for them.

Step 5: Book Your Travel Early

Book your hotel early. There are hotels that start at $39 per night. There’s no reason why your employees have to stay in a room that costs $200 per night. Resort fees are new in Las Vegas so be aware of them. Click here to see which hotels charge resort fees. SEMA has been able to negotiate with most of the hotels in its block to waive resort fees for Show attendees. If you’re flying, book your airline early to get the best rate.

Step 6: Preparing Your Marketing Materials

Have your staff promote your participation. Everyone should put in their e-mail signature lines to visit them at their booth at the SEMA Show. Put it on your company’s website and social media sites. Create a direct link to your exact booth location. Prepare onsite marketing materials in advance and create press releases for the Media Center. Bring a backup of your materials in case you run out

Step 7: Getting Your Staff Ready

Schedule your staff for the run of the Show, from move-in to move-out. Your employees should know what their objective is prior to their arrival in Las Vegas. The Show floor opens two hours early for exhibitors (7:00 a.m.) and it's a good idea to be there early to protect your belongings. At the end of the day, have wrap-up meetings with your employees. Determine what went wrong, what went right and plan for the next day. Also, plan for lunch breaks. Aramark has a new program this year where they will deliver food to your booth at no extra fee.

This one's a no-brainer, but make sure your staff practices good hygiene. No one wants to walk into a booth and be greeted by an offensive stench. Bring extra shirts in case of excessive sweating.

Step 8: You Are Here, Now What?

There are many options when it comes to transportation. Shuttle buses from SEMA partner hotels are free. They start at 7:00 a.m. and go until 6:00 p.m. and run every 20 minutes. The monorail costs money but you don’t have to deal with traffic. Limos cost about as much as taxis in Vegas, so if you have a group of people with a lot of stuff, take a limo. Keep in mind, Vegas is full of temptations, and it’s a direct reflection on your company if someone on your staff gets into trouble.

Step 9: It’s Showtime! Remember…What’s Your Objective?

Don’t pass up an opportunity to get a buyer’s information, but don’t be a scanning nut. Follow-up will still be key. Take your leads with you at the end of the day. Don’t leave them in your booth. Some exhibitors hire “booth babes.” It’s not for everyone, so figure out if it would work for you by asking yourself whom you are trying to attract.

Look inviting. Buyers will walk by unless they feel engaged. There are thousands of exhibitors at the Show and only four days to try to visit them all. Eighty-five percent of buyers come to the Show with a game plan, so get in front of potential buyers as they walk by your booth to capture their attention. Have at least two chairs for you and a buyer to meet but don’t sit down. If you’re sitting in a chair playing with your Blackberry you’re not going to get their attention.

It’s important that you be vigilant and stop suitcasers and outboarders. They are trying to steal your business. If you see them, report them to Show Management immediately.

Step 10: Show’s Over. Now What?

Once the Show’s over and everyone’s settled back into their everyday routine, meet with your staff and choose someone to be responsible for following up with the leads you made at the Show. Determine when and how often leads should be contacted and which method of communication is most effective. Regardless of the method you choose, make it personal. At some point, figure out your return on investment and return on opportunity from the Show.

Onsite, Show Management is always available in the Show office (S229) and the phone number is 702/943-3505. Floor managers are available from the beginning of move-in through move-out. In addition, exhibitor service desks are located in each hall. Always check with Show Management should you have any questions or doubts.

Click here to watch the video presentation in its entirety.