Trade Show TalesBlog

Deep Thoughts from the E2MA Red Diamond Congress

July 30th, 2015 3 COMMENTS

RDC_1I attended the E2MA Red Diamond Congress in Boston last week — my third time at this annual two-day conference. The RDC is a small, but growing, group of stakeholders in the event and tradeshow industry which includes show organizers, general contractors, associations, distributors, tradeshow managers, suppliers, and labor.

Like me, you probably interact with a subset of these folks over the course of a year. So attending RDC gives me a broader perspective of the challenges facing our industry. When someone starts pointing a finger at “the bad guys,” those “bad guys” are usually in the room to defend themselves. It makes for challenging conversations.

I wanted to share a few takeaways from several sessions.  This year’s theme was engagement.

Justin Hersh, Group Delphi, “Watch Out the CMO is Coming”

“We spend most of our time asking our exhibit or event client ‘what they want’ and then creating a ‘spectacle’ to fulfill that want and attract attention.” Think of a fireworks display. It’s mesmerizing, but we don’t want to see it twice.


We should be asking them, “Why they want it and then creating ‘wonder, awe, and connection’ which drives people to do something different.”

We need to resist the lure to create a mere spectacle. Instead we should create designs that motivate and inspire change.


Bruce Bolger, Enterprise Engagement Alliance, “Engagement Essentials”

“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

“People want to:  Be part of something bigger than themselves. Feel a sense of belonging. Go on a meaningful journey. Know that their contributions make a significant impact of difference.”

“How does Monday morning feel when you have a bad boss?”


Jack Myers, MyersBizNet, “Future Proofing the Business of Exhibits an Events”

“Our historic relationships are dissolving. What are the new relationships? Are you connecting vs. simply communicating?”

“We must learn how to build better relationships through technology.”

“Brands that create passion and engaged relationships win.”

Eric Schaumburg,, “Simplifying the Event Eco-system”

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

“We are standing on the precipice of Events 2.0…. For all of us to participate and capitalize on this transformation, we will need to eliminate the proprietary and fragmented nature that has become synonymous with tradeshows, and align our goals with those of the younger, consumer-driven, sharing economy.”

“Millennials:  anti-establishment bias, belief in radical transparency, trained to sniff out inefficiencies or vulnerabilities, intensely idealistic, strong sense of right and wrong, philanthropic.”

“The Experience Starts Online First, Face-to-Face Second:  Set the expectation, Protect the Brand, Engage sooner, engage frequently, Make the F2F like coming home”

Simplifying the Event Ecosystem

Leonora Valvo and Joseph Carrabis, insightXM, “Engaging with Data”

“Without trust, marketing does not work.”

“People don’t trust you because you say they should; people trust you because THEIR FRIENDS say they should.”

“The experiential trilogy is — attention, engagement, and trust.”

Allison Graham,, “How to Leverage Events to Drive Business Outcomes”

“We don’t need everybody. We need to find the people we can be ourselves with.”

“Just showing up at an event is a very good way to become busy but not profitable.”


–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or



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3 Responses to “Deep Thoughts from the E2MA Red Diamond Congress”

  1. Good recap of the RDC conference highlights, Mel. Thank you for taking the time to share.

    Like you, I’ve been attending RDC for 4 or 5 years now. The comments I heard from many attendees was that this year’s RDC content, in particular, was extraordinarily relevant to the changes we’re seeing in the event marketing space (specifically, the need to engage and connect with our customers in new and different ways).

    This event has come to feel like the annual EDPA Access gathering I look so forward to every December…a more intimate setting where you get seriously quality time with smart, forward-thinking industry players that are passionate about our industry and helping it move forward.


  2. Ron Myre says:

    Mel, Thanks for keeping those of us who couldn’t attend in the loop. Interesting info.

  3. Mel White says:

    Ron and Chris — Thank you very much for commenting. For those who haven’t attended the Red Diamond Congress, I highly recommend it. Next year it may be a little earlier, say around May and I hear rumors that it could be in Orlando. Nothing definite yet. –Mel

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