We know the trade show industry is in great shape because CEIR and the trade show media keeps telling us it is, right?
According to CEIR, the first quarter of 2017 was up 1.6 percent over the same quarter a year ago. Revenue was up even more: 2.3 percent. And almost every week, our industry oracles reprint press releases telling us of another show that broke all previous records.
So why are you so nervous?
Is it because your traditional measurement tools no longer work? Is it because the sponsorship contracts and attendee registrations you used to expect six months out or two months out, or even two weeks out, are no longer there?
Many of you are reaching your attendance or revenue goals – eventually – but why does it seem so much harder than it used to? Why is it that you now only can relax on the last day of your event, take a deep sigh and say, “That was a close one”?
Before I started working with event organizers, I spent many years as a newspaper editor. Whenever we blew a deadline, it was almost always clear to me that it wasn’t because of something that happened in that last hour or two before a paper was supposed to go to press. It was because of something that did NOT happen 24 hours earlier.
Potential sponsors and, especially, potential attendees, have the luxury of time in a way they never have had before. They can wait until the last minute to decide whether they’ll participate in your show.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing in the meantime. What you do six months or even 10 months out matters more now than it ever did, even though you don’t have the tangible proof that it does.
Potential attendees are looking at your site to see who your keynote speakers are – so you better have them in place early. They are looking to see who is going to be in the exhibit hall that they want to see.
And, as developments change the focus in their industry, they’re checking back to see if you’ll be there in two months or, sometimes, in two weeks, to explain it all to them.
You know there is an urgent need for your community to be at your event. Now tell your community that – and learn to live with those sleepless nights.
Michael Hart is a business consultant and writer who focuses on the events industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-394-0902.
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