Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 30 2013

Why Exhibitors Are Mad - And How It Could Impact Your Next Trade Show

By David McMillin

trade show logistic problems

Exhibitors have to cover plenty of costs in order to get in front of attendees and attract new buyers. However, one item on their list of expenses is creating more and more frustration.

According to the findings from a new survey conducted by EXPO Magazine and UPS, paying for freight shipping and material handling services is becoming a serious problem. With more than 130 leading organizations participating, 51 percent of respondents indicated that they are not satisfied with the value they currently receive compared with the costs of shipping and material handling.

SEE ALSO: Why Your Exhibitors Are Failing

Big Costs Could Lead to Smaller Shows

This may not seem like a big surprise. It’s no secret that these costs have been a big pain point for exhibitors for quite some time. However, the findings show that exhibitors are working to do something about it: 82 percent of respondents say they are focused on reducing their overall freight weight.

For trade show organizers, the trickle down effect could create troubling scenarios. If exhibitors bring fewer products and smaller booths, there’s simply less for attendees to see. Translation: lighter shows could easily translate to lighter trade show traffic.

SEE ALSO: 3 Ways to Adjust Your Exhibitors’ Expectations

Searching for Solutions

What can show organizers do to keep their exhibitors happy? Part of it begins with simply having conversations that guide them through the ins and outs of these costs, which can often be confusing. Twenty-six percent of exhibitors even admitted that they have a lack of understanding about freight shipping and material handling costs.

A conversation may only be the beginning, though. Some industry veterans advocate rethinking the entire trade show pricing model altogether. David Audrain, president and CEO, Clarion Events North America, is one of them. Audrain believes in bulk-buying for trade shows. While the price tag would be bigger, exhibitors would no longer have to deal with a nickel-and-dime approach to additional costs.

“So many of the rules in place about what you can and can’t do are in place so that exhibitors have to pay extra,” Audrain told participants at the E2MA Red Diamond Congress at Chicago’s McCormick Place this summer. “We need to take away the organizational challenges for exhibitors. Let’s move the focus away from the cost of that individual trashcan to focusing on how show organizers and exhibitors can market together to produce a more valuable event for everyone involved.”

“If we can eliminate the drayage word from conversations and encourage colleagues to do the same, we’ll be a better industry overall,” Audrain added.

Are material handling costs causing problems at your show? Share your thoughts in the comments below on what kind of industry-wide policies and practices might remedy this issue. If you’re interested in learning more about what’s on the minds of exhibitors, click here to review the full report (email address and contact info required).

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