Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association


March 11 2013

Terence Donnelly in the Spotlight

Terence Donnelly

Convening Leaders may not have a trade show floor, but PCMA’s annual meeting still has plenty of trade show education. Terence Donnelly, Chair of the Exhibits and Trade Shows Task Force, is already hard at work overseeing the preparation for education sessions at Convening Leaders 2014. Donnelly says that the Task Force has divided into sub-groups to determine how Convening Leaders can tackle some of the most pressing issues facing trade shows today.

One of those issues is determining how to work with an audience that extends across Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers and Millennials.

“In order for a trade show to be successful, you must engage with a wide range of partners,” Donnelly says. “In our multi-generational environment, you’re dealing with many different types of people. We’re hoping to help members of the trade show world be more equipped to understand the nuances of these different audiences.”

Show Your Show the Money

“Show organizers are looking for new ideas to grow revenues in creative ways with sponsorships and emerging technologies,” Donnelly says.Regardless of which generations may be part of your trade show, organizers of all ages are all searching for new revenue opportunities.

In order to help them better understand which ways might be most effective, Donnelly says that the Task Force is looking at developing a session that involves marketing representatives from Fortune 500 companies.  "This may be easier to accomplish in the Boston area," Donnelly adds.

“I’d like to hear from the people who are writing the checks,” Donnelly says. “I want to know their objectives, but I also want to know what’s working and what’s not.”

Take Your Conversation to Another Level

In addition to knowing their objectives, Donnelly hopes that sessions at Convening Leaders 2014 can help show organizers understand how to talk with them, too.

“You need to know how to have those high-level strategic discussions with your stakeholders of the exhibition,” Donnelly says. “When you’re talking with a C-level person in charge of putting together a company’s annual budget, you have to know how your trade show fits into their overall business plan and what options to provide.  Sometimes exhibiting may not be the best fit, and education sponsorship would be more beneficial.”

Big Data: The Driver of Big Trade Shows

As vice president of sales at Experient, Donnelly works with the 200 biggest trade shows in the country, and he says that they all share one common characteristic: data.

“The more actionable intelligence that you can collect on your participants from any source, the better you’ll be able to serve them,” Donnelly says. “It’s all about having that 360-degree view of your trade show participant.”

Donnelly stresses the importance of digging deeper and analyzing behavioral patterns to better serve participants. By looking at historical trends of participants’ activities and preferences, show organizers can create more targeted  marketing campaigns.

“It's not about static blast emails and online brochures anymore.  All that intelligence can help you tailor an experience and create messages that really appeal to their needs and wants,” Donnelly says.

For more on what’s in store for the future of trade shows, click here to read research from the PCMA Education Foundation.

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