Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 02 2015

Guest Column: Floor Management

Sue Fern, CEO & Founder, Fern Management Services
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) tells us that North American companies spend nearly $24 billion annually exhibiting at industry trade shows. That means associations and companies should consider the value of adding a show floor to their meeting or holding a stand-alone show. However, show floors must deliver a strong return on exhibitor investment or they will not return – deep pocket friends no longer exist in the tough markets of today. An experienced floor manager can help.

Exhibitors have set the bar higher for their return on investment (ROI) and service expectations. Show floor managers must provide the service required to assure customers will gain a return from any investment in a show. Building the crowd to fill the show floor every day is imperative. Many organizations design a great layout and sell booths but forget to build the audience, which is a major mistake. Too often senior executives consider the show floor to be the “red-headed stepchild” of the conference. Due to time limitations, they cannot put in the time needed for all the elements required for a great floor. This is why outsourcing full floor management to a professional team will result in a strong show floor, strong revenue, happy exhibitors and a strong element of any conference.

Using dedicated professionals with a focus on all aspects of the show floor produces results. Customer service throughout the process from sale to show day is essential. Experienced show floor managers know they need to create a strong design for the show floor but also develop interesting options for sponsors to help build attention for those walking the aisles.

The creation of events, meal functions and networking programs on the show floor is the key to any show’s success. The creation of a customized company/association booth at the heart of the show is a wonderful option. Logo booth carpet can be cost-effective and make a real statement to attendees. Professional marketing developed with the conference manager will encourage delegates to go through the show floor on a regular basis and interface with exhibitors.

Development of the marketing strategy must be included within every budget to ensure the show attracts high quality visitors. Consider working with major exhibitors on joint advertising campaigns. A big name exhibitor validating the event through joint advertising will gain attention for the whole conference. The endorsement is a massive boost to the credibility of the show.

Professional management must offer options for exhibitors and buyers to “do business” within the show floor. Giving attendees the chance to step out of the booth and into a meeting room where they can negotiate and get business done is imperative today. Offering what we call MeetingSpots is a great way to enable real conversations to take place. The exhibitor never needs to leave the show floor. This will deliver value from being part of the show. Floor managers can offer these MeetingSpots by the hour or by the day. Offering those timeslots and arranging appointments ahead of the show will ensure exhibitors gain a return on their investment.

Floor management must include research of the marketplace within the profession or industry of the show. Interview exhibitors and find out what else exhibitors want from their participation and how they measure success. Listen and take action. Create a User Group to involve exhibitors. Good sales and marketing within floor management should develop and implement strategies to further grow existing exhibitor relationships to build revenue. It is imperative to identify new supporters and look outside the normal vertical markets. Be creative.

Professional show floor managers have experience from working many different shows. They know what works and what does not. They have the courage to try new ideas from creating the design, building sponsorship options, selling the booth and making everyone happy on the floor. They are focused on the floor and developing exhibitor relationships. Professional management will result in great rewards for the organization in not only revenue but alliances with those happy exhibitors.

About the Author
Sue Fern, founder and CEO of Fern Management Services, takes pride in the quality of service provided by her team. Sue has an entrepreneurial spirit and customer-centric attitude and has created a positive and proactive culture throughout her company. With over 30 years of experience in multiple specialties, Sue has a passion for show floor management, sales, creative design and marketing to help share her successes around the world and across the country. www.fernmanagement.comsue@fernmanagement.com