The SNEWS View: Hotel-room exhibiting doesn’t count as supporting the trade show

On Dec. 4, we received an email invitation with the subject line “Going to Winter OR?” Naturally, with trade show season approaching, we opened the email, finding a cheery greeting. But after reading the message, we found more to jeer than cheer.

On Dec. 4, we received an email invitation with the subject line “Going to Winter OR?”

Naturally, with trade show season approaching and Outdoor Retailer Winter Market being just around the corner, we opened the email, finding a cheery greeting:

“Hello, Are you going to OR this year? If so, book a time to meet with XXXX*. By now you may have heard about XXXX….” Then the email went on to list testimonials from consumers that implied rave reviews were de rigueur.

The boilerplate copy was standard fare for PR email treatises trying to get notice around a trade show. No surprise really, but then our eyes fell on the next paragraph:

“We will also announce exciting new partnerships and the launch of our first interactive consumer website! XXXX is holding meetings at the Hotel Monaco -- mere steps away from the exhibit hall. Come chat with the CEO and nosh on food that's bound to be better than what's on the show floor."

Really? You want to take me off the trade show floor to walk to the Monaco in the winter in who knows what kind of weather simply because your company was too cheap to exhibit at Winter Market? Ahh…sorry…I just noticed you likely blew your trade show booth budget on food to nosh on.

Who at the company, in a meeting to discuss good trade show strategy and excellent PR, decided it was a solid idea to travel all the way from the East Coast to Salt Lake City, book a hotel room, invite media (and, we would suspect, other key accounts) to your hotel room and not take a booth?

People! This kind of move is an insult to exhibitors who are taking the time and energy and making the financial commitment to support the outdoor industry’s national trade show. This kind of behavior is in fact an insult to any trade show, as well as to media and other exhibitors. Yes, we might have understood this move a bit more if the show were, in fact, sold out and your company was on a long waiting list. FYI, the show is not sold out (we checked) so that excuse won’t fly.

For the record, SNEWS never has and never will support the decision of any company that decides it is in its best interests to forego trade show attendance and instead exhibit in an adjacent hotel room. Such a move essentially leaches from all the goodwill and energy of a national trade show. It is not good for the industry, any industry. It is not good for the trade show. And, frankly, it is ultimately not good for your business. One executive at a manufacturer we know uses the term “ground feeder” to describe a company who does this, literally sucking off the others who do pay to exhibit and attract retailers and the media.

If you are not on the trade show floor -- stay home. If connecting with media and other attendees of a national trade show is so important to your business, then either fly everyone out to your company headquarters or take some booth space.

--Michael Hodgson

*Company name removed to protect the guilty.



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