As IMEX America starts this week, MD and owner of Absolute Corporate Events, Chris Parnham gives his thoughts on how to be a good delegate at a trade show…
It’s time for IMEX USA 2019. Hundreds of event planners and agents are charging to Las Vegas, with their monogrammed luggage, their Priority Pass, and a stash of business cards, all scrambling for an upgrade, due to the “masses of business they place with this airline….”
Hotel check-in is fun too. “Do you have my gold card on file, and did you manage to upgrade my room?”
A great expo like IMEX separates the men from the boys, the girls from the old ladies, the walkers from the talkers, and the buyers from the stalkers. It’s a sea of opportunity, but as with any sea, it can wash up a lot of old rubbish…
My blatant rip off of an old McDonald’s TV ad, above, names and shames a few of the worst culprits.
Do you know any of them? Or worse still…. are you one of them?
The barfly: his first job of the day is to check out which stands serve alcohol, are close to the loos, have comfy seating, good wi-fi, but don’t have CCTV or too many hungry-looking account managers who might pester him with business reviews.
The blagger: always has a really big enquiry, totally right for your destination. In truth, it’s where he fancies his next holiday, or where he’d like to have his wedding ceremony.
The finger wagger: here are some of the things she may say whilst she shakes her finger at you… “You really shouldn’t be charging for wi-fi, your central res desk is no good, the arrival experience at your hotel is poor, my coffee was cold this morning, I had to queue for 3 minutes at check-in, my driver didn’t know my name, my badge doesn’t have my full title, oh I hate these things….”
The blogger: watch out for him, he is tweeting, posting and gossiping. He will say nice things if he likes you, and bad things if you neglect him. He’s a good friend to have on your side. You can spot him, because he is tapping on his phone as he walks, and he never engages with anyone. Take his picture and post it on your website, then tweet it, and you have a friend for life.
The nodder: a waste of time. He looks like he’s listening, but really, he’s working out how many Airmiles he got for this trip and wondering where to go for happy hour.
The flush it down the bogger: a bit like the nodder. This guy will take all your brochures, your USB pen, and your business card, and the freebie, but nothing will make it past the recycling point.
The nagger: She’s just had an event go bad. Probably her fault. But she’s looking for someone to blame, and it’s about to be you. She’s easy to spot, as she will make a beeline for you. She will be dragging a small wheelie case, walking like she’s the Queen with a Corgi. And she’ll be pointing and nothing in the distance, or she may wave at an imaginary friend. She may even have a pen stuck in her hairdo, and glasses on a chain around her neck.
The swagger: he’s been everywhere in the world. And he thinks he’s the biggest agent at the show. If you don’t know his name, you shouldn’t be in business. Truth is, he was big one day, but that’s before we went decimal. Now he’s usually on the golf course, or at trade shows. Nothing he says will be true, so switch off, and think about where you will go for happy hour, once you’ve gotten rid of him.
The stuff it in her bagger: shows up for all the free stuff. She can always be spotted by the size and weight of his conference bag. She keeps changing shoulders, as it’s so heavy… It’s filled to the brim with chocolates, local cheeses, USB sticks, flags, squeaky stress balls, post-it pads and pens.
The waster: see blagger.
The racer: checks in for her return flight, just as she lands. She is here for the party, and that’s all. She’s easy to spot, as all she talks about is which party she’s going to and what she’ll be wearing. She’ll also be trowelled in make-up as thick as blackout curtains.
The more than two facer: he’s a dangerous one this one. He’ll tell you how much he wants to move business to your venue, but only if you can improve your offer or your service. He’ll tell you how awful your competitors are, and how he’d love to move business away from them. He’s told the same story many times… Beware this delegate. Just nod and smile…
The shirker: He barely knows why he’s here. In fact, he might not even know where he is. He’s pointless and lazy and has no business at all. He’s easy to spot, as he’ll look a little scruffy and won’t ever be carrying anything except business cards.
The worker: She has come to work, and she has real business to place. She is easy to spot, she will have a briefcase or at least a folder or a pad. It will have real live enquiries in it. If you see this person, sit her down and treat her well. She has come to work, and she has real business to place.
The business converter: She is not so easy to spot. She is the business influencer rather than an actual booker. A business owner or a senior manager. She will arrive at her appointments on time, she will listen to you, and then she will tell you about her business. She speaks the truth. Make a good impression here, and watch her business move to your venues.
We all love a trade show, but does the trade show love us…?
Please, play nice, and above all else, be a good delegate.