Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Seinfeld’

Ignorance and Indifference on the Trade Show Floor

October 26th, 2016 COMMENTS

seinfeldJerry: “I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?”

Agent: “Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.”

Jerry: “But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.”

Agent: “I know why we have reservations.”

Jerry: “I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to “hold” the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.”

We all recognize this scene from Seinfeld:  The rental car desk. The banter between Jerry and Elaine. And the snide, indifferent response from the rental car agent. We’ve all experienced this poor customer service from an overbooked flight, a missed service appointment, or a bait and switch on an advertised product.

Yet, not all bad customer service is this blatant. Sometimes it is poor planning, not recognizing industry trends, or pure laziness. As a trade show exhibitor or an attendee, you’ve experienced this walking the show floor.


As a child, you looked forward to the annual county fair — the rides, the concerts, and the food vendors were the highlight of the summer. You planned your summer around it. Trade shows were like that once – many, many years ago. Not anymore.

Exhibitors must be proactive. To be successful, they must invite existing and potential customers to their booth and explain their value. Whether you are using email, social media, advertising, or good old fashion phone calls, as an exhibitor, you should plan for 50% of your show traffic to be generated pre-show. Simply showing up and showing off no longer works.



Think about all the money you spend before the show even starts — the exhibit, freight, booth space, drayage, labor, and travel costs. It’s significant. The show opens, attendees swarm the show floor, and some of those enter your booth space. And you ignore them.

By Day 3 how many pass through your booth without a greeting, a handshake, or even a friendly head nod? Your team may acknowledge them but it’s half-hearted. They’re already checking on their flight or planning for dinner. The attendee senses it. They move on to a competitor excited to see them on Day 3 at 3 pm.


At its core, a trade show is a face-to-face Google search. Attendees are there to find and collect information. Yet, many exhibitors bring charming rather than competent staffers. Simple questions can’t be answered by the booth staff, or the one expert is always unavailable. Even the booth fails the information test. Lots of splash but no real substance on your products and services. The successful exhibitor strikes a balance between charm and competence, flash and substance.



Perhaps I’m naïve, but I don’t buy the statistics about lead follow-up. It’s not ideal, not even close, but most companies follow up on show leads. Unfortunately, they do it half-hearted. They send an email or leave a phone message… then call it good. They treat a show lead as a cold lead, not a warm one.

The trade show attendee stopped in your booth for a reason. It’s your job to pinpoint what they need and when they need it. All too often, we abandon the sales process after the first attempt: “I left a message and they never got back to me.”


What did you learn at your last show about your competitors, your vendors, your industry, and your customers? Nothing is more valuable. Yes, the trade show should lead to more sales. There should be a measurable ROI. However, it’s the unmeasurable ROI that’s often more valuable.

We call it “face-to-face marketing,” but it’s people connecting with people, sharing information, venting, gossiping, and looking for solutions. No website can do that as effectively as two people together. Ever.

There’s no magic or voodoo to outstanding customer service on the trade show floor. It’s all about smart planning, commonsense, and hard work.

–Mel White


How to Entertain Yourself During Any Meeting

January 1st, 2014 COMMENTS


No More Boring Meetings

You’ve read countless articles about how to manage meetings so they’re efficient, informative, and productive. Unfortunately, no one ever suggests how to make the meeting more interesting. Not for the group but for you! It may be a group meeting, but that doesn’t mean you have to be bored listening to sales projections, productivity reports, or policy updates.

Here are some suggestions on how to entertain yourself during any meeting. It may be too much to expect your boss to appreciate your attempt to enliven the meeting. But, hey, it’s only a job, and you were looking for a reason to explain full-time employment, mortgage payments, groceries, and utilities to your kids.

Successful Meetings and Horshack

Animated Hand Raise

One of the all-time great television characters was Arnold Horshack (Ron Palillo), the braying geek on “Welcome Back Kotter.” Whenever Arnold had a question or comment, he scream “Oh! Oh Oh!” and raise his hand. We all know that animated hand-raising is fun. I prefer the exaggerated hand wave with some subtle finger movement. I strongly disapprove of the combination finger pointing/finger snapping hand-raising. It’s important to know the difference between being rude and being aggressively rude. You don’t need a catch-phrase, but a personal catch-phrase and a copyright could turn your meeting entertainment into a profitable business.

Taking Notes

You should be suspicious of anyone who doesn’t bring a pen and paper to a meeting. It’s just plain wrong. You, on the other hand, should take excessive notes. From the moment anyone begins speaking, begin writing. During any conversation, take notes. When there is a pause and no one is talking, keep writing. It’s a great way to stay awake during any meeting, plus you’ll be praised by your superiors for taking the meeting seriously and resented by your colleagues for taking the meeting seriously. It’s also a terrific opportunity to write a thank you letter to your Aunt Eileen for the $5 she sent on your 8th birthday. You’ll feel better and that’s all that really matters.


Remember the episode of Seinfeld where George had an eye twitch and everyone thought he was winking at them? Winking is fun, at least for the “winker” if not  for the “winkie.” When your boss says something like, “We must cut administrative expenses by 20 percent this quarter.” Give one of your co-workers a knowing wink. When two colleagues disagree about an issue, give them both a subtle but separate wink. It says, “I understand and am on your side.” Oh yes, winking can also get you hauled into HR for sexual harassment, so use your power wisely. Every great power has its kryptonite.

WinkingName Calling

This takes a little more planning, since cracking into the company’s HR files is both illegal and immoral. Start by learning everyone’s full first and middle name. Some people will gladly reveal that information because they were never mocked by their family and classmates. All others were named after dead relatives, celebrities, places, pets, or moral aspirations and still bear the emotional scars. They don’t want anyone to know their middle name is “Ottermeirman” or “Saskatchewan” or “Freedom” or “Barrymore.”

Once you have that information, use it during the next meeting. Refer to everyone by their full first and middle name. Sue, for instance, becomes Susanna Sunshine and Frank becomes Franklin Graceland. After the initial shock, I’m sure everyone will be laughing, patting each other on the back, and singing. Disclaimer: I have not personally tested this so I can’t verify the “everyone will be laughing or singing.”

Bathroom Breaks

Any meeting lasting more than 15 minutes should have at least one bathroom break. Group bathroom breaks are even better since getting everyone back into the meeting usually takes an additional 10 minutes. Subtle background noise of a babbling brook or cascading waterfall should do the trick.


Staring like winking takes a little practice but once you’ve master it, the fun begins. Psycho staring, however, is unacceptable. How do you know when you’re psycho staring? Usually someone screams, there’s finger pointing, and handcuffs and someone in a uniform or lab coat appears. To stare without repercussions, you’ll want to pretend you’re thinking of something really, really important. In case some asks, you’re pondering. It just so happens that there’s someone between you and an epiphany. Another strategy is to stare until you get someone’s attention, then look away. Repeat. Then on the third stare when the hair on the back of their neck is at full attention, motion like they’ve got something hanging from their lip, stuck on their cheek, or caught in their hair. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

These are just a few of my techniques to make every meeting entertaining. You are welcome to use them and add your personal flair. I don’t expect any royalties or credit —  just send me your entertaining meeting tips in return. If we wish really hard, perhaps there is a website in our future where we are a tight-knit community, or as my wife we say “an interest-specific sub-culture,” bonded by the joys of entertaining ourselves during meetings.

–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


Shooting from the Hip — 6.10 (More Favorites)

June 2nd, 2010 COMMENTS

Shooting from the Hip (trade show tips)

Shooting from the Hip by Reid Sherwood

More Favorites

Last week was moving week for the Sherwood family. This week is putting stuff away week. How can a family with two house fires in less than two years have this much stuff? I’m blaming an 11 month old girl. Little Reida (not really her name, but it is MY blog) weighs 17 pounds and takes up 1100 square feet of living space. Once we actually re-purchase bedroom furniture it won’t seem so bad.

Last week was also favorite’s week. Food and beverage favorites to be exact. Here are some of my other favorites, and the why’s. I have nothing to base these on but my opinion, so if you don’t agree, that’s fine.

Favorite AirlineAmerican Airlines. When you travel as much as I do, you notice that things tend to go wrong.  Unless you learn to deal with that quickly, you will be in the cardiac care unit. Everyone thinks that it’s all about points and miles. And it is to a point. But when things go wrong, it’s how an airline handles it that sets them apart. Because I fly from Grand Rapids most of the time, and American has a small presence here, I have gotten to be friends with some of the gate agents. In my case, a quick phone call to them and many things get “fixed” (and you don’t ask questions). They take care of their customers.

Favorite Hotel ChainHILTON all the way. They know customer service like nobody else. I have been a diamond member for 11 years now. They ONLY thing they do that bothers me is that they refer to me as Mr. Sherwood. Mr. Sherwood was my father. I am not old enough to be Mr. anything. It seems as though sometimes they can read your mind. It doesn’t matter if you stay at a Hampton Inn or the Conrad. The service is always impeccable. And their loyalty program is second to none.

Favorite Car Rental Company – Here is where I have NO loyalty . . .  this is all about MONEY or saving it. Lately I have been using Priceline and have gotten some great deals. Only a couple things matter to me about a rental car. First – it must be a 4 door. I was cool 30 years ago. Now I am practical. The other thing that matters is that it’s an American-made car. No, I am not prejudice. American cars allow your cell phone to charge while the car is off and you are at an appointment.

Newaygo, Michigan

Newaygo, Michigan

Favorite City to Visit – This is a mixed bag. As a general rule, I am not a fan of cities, which is why I live in Newaygo, Michigan. But if I were picking favorites, I’ll break it down into super large cities and small cities.

Super Large – Chicago. The Rush Street life is great and the pizza rocks.

Small Cities – This is a coin toss. Both Savannah, Georgia and Portland Maine are great towns. They offer much of the same. Lots of history, great seafood, small homey atmosphere. Savannah has great music on the waterfront every night, so I guess that is the deciding factor.

Favorite Sunset – There are some awesome sunsets around the world. I don’t believe there is a better one than at the end of Mallory Square in Key West, Florida. And they serve cocktails there.

Favorite Stadium – Emotions aside, I think the greatest place to see a game is Joe Louis Arena — possibly because I am a Michigander at heart — probably because it is just that special of a place — absolutely because you get to throw octopus on the ice! There’s no place like it.

Favorite TV Show – Anyone who knows me very well knows that I am a sitcom junkie. It comes down to four shows:  MASH 4077, Friends, All in the Family, and Seinfeld. My favorite is Seinfeld. How they pack so much laughter in a 30 minute show is amazing to me. I have seen every episode a dozen times. I don’t even have a favorite. Just all of them.

Favorite Exhibit CompanyClassic Exhibits by a light year. Home of the Portable Hybrid: Sacagawea, Magellan, Perfect 10, and Visionary Designs.

Now if I missed anything of importance, please comment and let me know.

Talk to you next week  . . .

–Reid Sherwood