Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Exhibitors’

Interview with Jessica Sibila, The Exhibitor Advocate Association

August 29th, 2022 COMMENTS

Interview Introduction

Recently, I spoke with Jessica Sibila, who’s the owner of Jessica Sibila Consulting, and the Executive Director of The Exhibitor Advocate. If you are unfamiliar with The Exhibitor Advocate that’s understandable. It’s brand new. However, the professionals spearheading this association have been championing the rights of exhibitors for many years.

For anyone who’s worked in the exhibit industry or participated in trade shows, you know it can be complicated, confusing, and often opaque, especially to exhibitors. They don’t always know their rights or how to dispute charges or even propose changes to a show. Collectively, they have the largest financial commitment to the success of a trade show but often the least amount of influence on how it’s priced, managed, and marketed.

The Exhibitor Advocate Mission

The Exhibitor Advocate is a newly formed non-profit organization dedicated to supporting exhibitor needs in the exhibitions and events industry. The group provides expert advice, research, and tools to act on behalf of all exhibiting companies, focusing on addressing challenges and pain points so that exhibitions and events remain a valuable and irreplaceable marketing channel.

Exhibitors are an essential part of the industry ecosystem; without them, we don’t have a trade show. In this post-COVID world, exhibitors are being challenged by exponentially rising costs, lack of data availability, and limited metrics and ROI. It’s important the industry understands the needs of the exhibiting community and works towards addressing these issues in order to sustain the industry for the future. We can no longer rely solely on the attendee to drive the success of a trade show. The exhibitor is a strategic partner in creating an event that is beneficial for all parties.

The Exhibitor Advocate amplifies the voice of the exhibitor. We are a powerful community that finally has a platform for sharing best practices and addressing challenges we face. We invite all industry stakeholders to join the cause and support The Exhibitor Advocate. Become a member or donate funds at Together, we can ensure the enduring success of the exhibitions and events industry.

The Exhibitor Advocate Association

7 Mistakes Exhibitors Make

October 24th, 2011 COMMENTS

Are You (or Your Customers) Making These Mistakes?

Here’s the second in a series of three videos outlining the “7 Mistakes Exhibitors Make.” In Part 2, trade show consultant and author Marlys Arnold covers three mistakes exhibitors make regarding booth staff and how to avoid them. Click the image below to view this six minute video.

This is a hidden video, so if a friend forwarded this e-mail to you and you’d like to see the entire series, please go to: to request access to all three videos in the series. Feel free to invite your friends to watch by sending them to the signup page as well.

Video — Part 1:

This covers the first two mistakes exhibitors make . .  . before they even arrive at the show.

Video — Part 2:

This  covers the three mistakes exhibitors make regarding booth staff and how to avoid them.

Video — Part 3:

This covers the final two mistakes made in the booth and after the show.

Marlys Arnold

Since 1991, Marlys Arnold has helped hundreds of men, women, and students improve their personal or professional image, either in workshops or private consultations. “I believe that looking good directly relates to our attitudes about ourselves and our careers,” she said. Her goal is to help companies develop an authentic image by teaching individuals to look terrific and feel good about themselves. “It really doesn’t matter how good the outside looks, if you don’t like the inside, you’ll never be truly comfortable with yourself.”

Marlys is also the regional representative for the nationwide Dress Up Thursday campaign and has received certification in image education from the Conselle Institute of Image Management.

When Trade Shows Don’t Make Sense

October 11th, 2011 7 COMMENTS

TradeshowI’m about to become a heretic. Get those $6 bottles of convention hall Aquafina and Dasani ready. It’s the closest thing we have to holy water.

Since the mid-90s when I fell into the trade show biz, I’ve been conditioned to believe that every organization benefits from a well-planned trade show marketing program. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Fortune 500 Goliath operating on seven continents or a three person non-profit in Elizabethtown, KY. Trade show marketing, when executed properly, is an efficient tool for finding new customers, spreading a message, introducing new products, and solidifying a campaign. And even as virtual trade shows have gotten more chatter, those of us “in the know” know that Face-to-Face Marketing trumps Face-to-Space (as we call virtual trade shows) every time.

To be honest, I need to take off the blinders. Trade shows do not make sense for every business. It may not fit their business model or growth plans. Or, they may not have the internal capacity or skill to plan and execute a strategy. For these folks, participating as an exhibitor would be a waste of time, money, and resources. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t attend trade shows. For some companies, attending rather than participating makes far more sense.

So, let’s take a moment to explore this idea and determine when trade shows, as an exhibitor, does not make sense.

1. Capacity: If you are one of those fortunate organizations that has more business than you can handle, then priming the pump at a trade show would only exacerbate the problem. You need solutions on how to handle existing business, and there are any number of shows for that.

2. Growth Restrictions: Some companies, and some non-profits, simply do not want to grow or are unable to expand for financial or personnel reasons. They don’t foresee their organization getting any larger (or any smaller). Many private practice physicians fall into this category.

3. Skills: Trade show marketing takes time and talent as well as money. Buying a display is not a plan any more than buying a car is a drivers license. Too many companies participate in trade shows without a plan and then wonder why the show wasn’t more successful. Frankly, there are very few unsuccessful shows, but there are lots of unsuccessful exhibitors. If you don’t have the time or the talent to be an exhibitor, then walk the show as an attendee or hire an exhibit house to coach you.

4. Cost:  Trade shows can be expensive, if you know what you are doing. They can be insanely expensive if you don’t. Done right (are you beginning to see a theme?), you’ll more than recoup your investment every time. Done wrong . . . at best, you’ll waste money . . . at worse, you’ll damage your organization’s reputation. If you can’t afford to look presentable, then don’t participate. It’s like showing up at a wedding in cutoff jeans, flip-flops, and a muscle shirt. It’s inappropriate and you’ll look like a duffus.

Duffus Family Crest

5. People: Who you send to represent your organization matters. Some exhibit personnel are lazy or confused. They’re there because the show is in Orlando and Mickey Mouse beckons. When attendees can track them down, they yawn, pick their nails, and scratch. Others have social skills that would make a third-world dictator proud. Still others know just enough to be dangerous. What they share could sink the company because of their lack of knowledge or their discontent with management, co-workers, or the selection in the company vending machines.

6. Management: If senior management doesn’t “get it” and only “tolerates it,” then don’t waste your time. Trade shows demand the attention and the support of senior management. While they may not be able to attend smaller shows, they should always be at the major industry shows — in the booth and greeting clients. A management team that never works the booth doesn’t understand the value of face-to-face marketing.

7. Bad Fit:  Some businesses, non-profits, or government agencies are simply a bad fit for any trade show: local gas stations, state prisons, para-military hate groups, illegal drug dealers, pimps, etc. I’m sure there are lots more, but it hurts my head to think about it.

It’s important to remember that trade shows come in many shapes and sizes. There are the biggies, like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), medium ones like the National Electrical Contractors Association, and local ones like Home and Garden and Chamber of Commerce shows.

Every year, there are thousands of trade shows. Choosing the right one(s) can be challenging without the guidance of someone who’s been there and who knows the “ins and outs” of trade shows. That’s where a trade show consultant comes in handy. They can advise you of the right shows, the best exhibit design, and how to market yourself. In the world of trade shows, the expression “penny wise and pound foolish” is the mantra of many exhibitors. Don’t make that mistake. If you choose to be an exhibitor, seek the advice of professionals and plan, plan, plan.

–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.

Word on the Street — July 20th thru July 24th

July 24th, 2009 1 COMMENT

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Follow-up from TS2 in Chicago

We are back from Chicago, and I am exhausted. But then again, spending an unplanned six hours waiting around at O’Hare will do that.

The six hours at O’Hare gave me the opportunity to check Twitter and LinkedIn for reactions to TS2, and to compare them to my own thoughts and reactions.

Let me preface this by saying that I have a fairly unique perspective when it comes to TS2 with over 10 years as an exhibitor and the past three years as a member of the TS2 Exhibitor Advisory Committee.

That being said, I will start off from the exhibitor perspective. I, like others, found the show traffic very slow. Having the front and center island in a show, like we did, usually is a huge advantage, but the flow of the traffic seemed to veer right and left as they entered, so our traffic on Day 1 was not the best. Day 2 was better than Day 1, which was not the same for others on the show floor.

Looking through the leads and speaking to other exhibitors nearby, it felt like the attendees were not your typical TS2 exhibitor attendees. Meaning, it felt like the majority of them were there looking for technology, promotional products, education, and other services. Not for exhibits.

From the Exhibitor Advisory Committee Member perspective, it was more positive. Still not great, but more positive. One of my duties was to tour several aisles, thank the exhibitors for attending, and to get feedback on the show. The Advisory Committee wanted their reactions and comments and felt they would be more open with a fellow exhibitor who has the ear of show management.

I have to say, the majority of the folks I spoke to were very happy with the show. The show was slow, but they expected that. And most spoke about the good quality of the leads they were generating. There were recommendations about how to make the show better for Boston, and there was a clear acknowledgement that the traditional “Exhibit House” presence was not there.

I have been asked multiple times in the past 48 hours, “Will TS2 survive?” My response is, I hope so. Although attendance numbers were only off about 15% over the Philly show in 2008, it’s the attendee profile of this year’s show that concerns me the most as a longtime exhibitor. I, for one, think that for TS2 to survive they need the participation and involvement of the Exhibit Houses, and they need to re-engage the Portable, Modular and Hybrid Manufacturers. The show needs to get back to being the “Tradeshow for Tradeshows”. . . along with welcoming technology and event companies. 

In the end, for those of you that I did see there, it was great to see you. The Block Party on Navy Pier was excellent! Very well thought out and executed. The Pub Crawl turned into an event of its own . . . I am pretty sure you can find the re-broadcast of the now legendary Beer-Pong Champs on ESPN 8 “The Ocho” this coming fall. 🙂

In all seriousness though, if you attended TS2, please post a comment and give your honest thoughts and feedback from the event or from what I have said.

 Be Well!

–Kevin Carty