• Get Down to Business of Innovation on Site Visits

    By: Dana Freker Doody, The Expo Group

    The site visit is one of the most effective planning methods for trade shows and events. Planners have multitudes of questions and details to discover ranging from the strength of the WiFi to the ratio of servers to diners for a formal meal.

    Being on site should also be a time to plan for innovation. Think about how your attendees are using the space, what their emotions might be within it and how you can leave a memorable impression on them through interactive activities, creative showpieces and fascinating experiences.

    Here are a few questions that can be added to the list to inspire the entire planning team.

    Get Organized

    As the show or event manager, you should be in the lead, communicating specifically what you want to see, what your specific objectives are for the visit, and what the overall strategic goals are for the event. Be sure an agenda is set in advance, and keep to it. Meetings mean business for you, too!

    Every member of your larger supplier team is on the visit for different reasons, they each have their own motivations and a running list of questions they need answered. Assure them time to get all those details covered, but also communicate the need for them to think collectively about the event goals.

    Some great questions to ask of your convention services manager and the contractor’s account team:

    • What have you seen done in this space that was exciting?
    • How have groups used this room successfully? Alternatively, what just never seems to work in here?
    • Knowing our overall event goals, why do you think this room or space is a good fit?

    And my favorite question from my days as a news reporter:

    • What should I know that I haven’t asked?


    Use Technology

    If your Marketing Manager is not making the site visit, but is always good at creating ideas for the lobby, use handheld devices to stream them in for an hour. Likewise if a committee head needs to deal with the AV team, introduce them while you are onsite with five minutes of Skype or FaceTime, to start the relationship that will burgeon in the coming months.

    Technology also enables quick and easy photos, which can be made even more useful with a few apps that allowing the team to communicate their ideas and record discussion points. Try a few of these:

    • Skitch– Take a picture and then immediately mark it up with information and send it to your colleagues by email or save in Evernote.
    • Penultimate– Note writing app that allows you to import images and mark up and send or save in Evernote.
    • Paper by FiftyThree– popular free sketching app that provides a fun way to sketch your ideas and store them in individual journals.
    • Evernote– The ability to synch your notes across multiple platforms is outstanding. Plus there are several great apps (like Skitch) that work directly with it
    • Dropbox– You are going to need a place to store all those photos you’re taking on site and Dropbox just upped their space available to 1TB (that’s 1,024 GB!) for $9.99 a month for Dropbox Pro.


    Think Millennial

    Remember Millennials are people, too. People who are important to have attending your trade show, engaged in your events, and involved in your overall community or association. We were all young once. It just so happens young people today are interacting with each other and the world in different ways.

    Millennials want a seamless experience, and they need to know you are you. Your website, storefront, event graphics, marketing materials, staff shirts and the rest should all adhere to the style of the organization and communicate the entity’s values with a consistent tone. This helps reinforce what you stand for, and millennials especially seek to have relationships with authentic brands. They want to feel good about themselves and the relationships. So look onsite for spots where you can communicate who you are.

    Simplify the way you deliver information particularly for millennials, who are consuming information in new and exciting delivery formats. Have one small banner instead of six smaller ones, for example. Reduce the text by asking yourself if people really need to know all those details. If they do, that’s fine, just establish a hierarchy of messaging to keep it clear.

    What else do you look for on-site visits? Comment below to share how you are using site inspections to inspire your team to advance your business.

  • Exhibition Industry Urges Governor Pence to Modify Religious Freedom Restoration Act

    Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act has received criticism from numerous individuals around the country, causing many companies and organizations to rethink hosting exhibitions and events in the state. The newly signed bill prohibits the government from substantially burdening a citizen from practicing his or her religion, but critics say it openly allows for religion to be used as an excuse for discrimination.

    Recently, the executive committee of IAEE recently wrote an open letter to Governor Pence of Indiana urging them to clarify that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act would not allow discrimination. The letter, signed by Chairperson Megan Tanel and President David DuBois, states that IAEE cannot support any legislation or actions that could lead to discrimination at any level.

    “It has already become very apparent that many businesses, meetings, conventions and exhibitions have either already done so, or are considering, boycotting Indiana for current and future engagements. Such boycotts negatively impact Indiana employees who work in the hospitality, exhibitions and events industry,” wrote Tanel and DuBois.

    IAEE joins the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Visit Indy and a number of other exhibition and events industry organizations that are expressing concern about the recent passing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana.

    The entire letter can be viewed below:

    31 March 2015

    Dear Governor Pence:

    The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) is a Dallas-based association with over 9,000 members in 51 countries. Our members own and/or manage over 14,000 exhibitions and events in the United States. The direct spend of the exhibitions and events conducted in this country totals $69 billion. Exhibitions support thousands of jobs across our country, generate millions of dollars in incremental taxes (for and in both cities and states) and help to create educational opportunities for thousands on an annual basis. In fact, many products are introduced into the marketplace as a result of exhibitions. Your businesses across Indiana are the frequent recipients of our industry’s important work and economic impact.

    With that in mind, we respectfully request that your office work with the Indiana General Assembly to adopt corrective language to Senate Bill 101, The “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” clarifying that the law does not allow discrimination of any kind against any segment of the population. It has already become very apparent that many businesses, meetings, conventions and exhibitions have either already done so, or are considering, boycotting Indiana for current and future engagements. Such boycotts negatively impact Indiana employees who work in the hospitality, exhibitions and events industry.

    The “Hoosier State” has a decades-long reputation for delivering world-class hospitality and service to ALL visitors and attendees. IAEE and our members cannot support any legislation or actions that could lead to discrimination at any level. Nor can we support the boycotting of exhibitions, meetings and events as a weapon in this debate.

    Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter.



    Megan Tanel, CEM

    Chairperson of IAEE


    Vice President of Exhibitions and Events

    Association of Equipment Manufacturers

    David DuBois, CAE, CMP, FASAE, CTA

    President and CEO

    International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)

     cc: President Pro Tempore of the Senate David C. Long, Senate Majority Leader Brandt Hershman, Senate Minority Leader Timothy Lanane, Speaker of the House Brian C. Bosma, House Majority Leader Judson McMillin, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, Visit Indy President and CEO, Leonard Hoops

    Additional commentary on the position taken by IAEE, ASAE and many others from the exhibitions and events space can be found at:



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