Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 11 2015

How This Trade Show Transformed The Attendee Experience

By David McMillin

The Global Petroleum Show (GPS) is approaching its 50th anniversary at Calgary’s famous Stampede Park, but the show’s organizers aren’t allowing nearly five decades of success to create any sense of complacency. Instead, Wes Scott, Executive Vice President, Energy, dmg::events, says the GPS team continues to look for opportunities to create a unique selling proposition for the 50,000+ attendees from the oil and gas industry who come to Alberta for the experience each summer.

“We’re always looking for something fresh,” Scott says. “We reviewed our attendee survey results and found many of them have been looking for more opportunities to see and experience drilling technology.”

Delivering those opportunities requires more than a 10’ x 10’ exhibit booth, though. In 2015, Scott and the rest of the team at dmg::events tackled a very ambitious task. They decided to build an entire drilling site at the show.

Channeling A Collaborative Spirit Among Exhibitors

In addition the challenges of accommodating oversized equipment, Scott and his team had to navigate the potentially tricky path of working with a range of different companies.

“We had to be cautious to not find competing companies to be part of the rig,” Scott says. “First, we found the drilling rig provider, and from there, we went out to secure the additional exhibitors that could help us build the entire experience. We found 12 different businesses that each offered unique solutions.”

The result? A true team spirit.

“It was amazing how well all the companies worked together to assist us in laying it out and making sure that it resonated with attendees,” Scott says. “On-site, each company toured attendees through their component and then handed the tour off to the next host. It was seamless and really helped convey a sense of collaboration among the members of the oil and gas industry.”

Writing A More Compelling Story For Attendees

Rather than using traditional promotional bullet points to highlight the number of exhibitors and the number of products, the new Drilling Site Experience added a powerful new piece for the show’s marketing efforts.

“The Drilling Site Experience gave us a new story to tell prospective attendees,” Scott says.

The story resonated with another important audience: the press.

“The rig served as the backdrop for so much of our coverage in TV, newspaper and magazines,” Scott says. “Members of the media always want to know about what’s new, and this helped give the show stronger media momentum.”

Looking Ahead To The Next Generation Of Oil & Gas

The recent economic downturn in the oil and gas industry has created a challenge for the show, but Scott and his team are still finding ways to expand the event. In fact, 2015 marked the first time the show was an annual event rather than biannual. With more than 50,000 attendees and already strong rebooking rates for 2016, it’s clear that GPS is on a continued path for success. As the show charges forward, the GPS audience can expect to see more innovations in booth displays.

“We want to sell our exhibitors beyond the box,” Scott says. “We don’t just want them thinking about standard exhibit space.”

While Scott is working to help exhibitors push the creative envelope, he and his team remain focused on the most important piece of the puzzle: the attendees.

“We are constantly asking ourselves what will motivate everyone to come to Calgary, book a room and spend three days at the show,” Scott says. “Our success relies on answering that question year after year.”

This educational article was sponsored by Meetings + Conventions Calgary, an organization committed to helping meeting and trade show professionals identify innovative ways to engage attendees. As events like GPS continue to grow, Calgary is expanding its hotel supply to meet the demands. Between now and 2016, 11 new hotels will open in Calgary the fastest growth rate in all of Canada. To learn why your colleagues are adding Calgary to their list of site visits, click here.

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