Thursday, October 15, 2009

5 Signs Your Special Event Trade Show Booth Needs Help

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Bravo! Live Showcase of Oregon's event and hospitality professionals. Held annually, it's easily the largest showcase of its kind in Oregon, so it's a great place to find out what's new in special events and hospitality in our region.

One thing that surprises me though, is how there are always a few, at this show and others, who ignore some basic rules of trade show success. Could it have been you? Here are 5 Signs Your Special Event Trade Show Booth Needs Help:

1. You put the table provided by the convention center across the entrance to your booth, between you and your audience. Doing so creates a physical barrier you and the face-to-face interaction you hope to have.

2. You are using only the existing convention hall overhead lighting to light your booth. Convention hall lighting is extremely variable; often too bright or too dim, and almost always fluorescent and unflattering. Bringing in a few inexpensive lighting fixtures serves to highlight your product, decor, or signage.

3. Your booth reps are talking on mobile phones, texting, eating, or otherwise not ready to do business. Remember, you have about 12 seconds to get the attention of those streaming past your booth. If an attendee gets the subconscious signal that no one is interested in speaking to them, it's that much easier to pass on by.

4. You haven't created a "hook" or "angle" to explain to people why you are even at this show. (Note: "We have a hotel" doesn't count. What makes your hotel/product/service different from the five others that are offering the same thing? Why should you be remembered?)

5. You did not pre-market your appearance at the show to your existing list OR you are not taking leads in your booth OR you are not planning to follow up in a timely manner after the show with the folks you met or who gave you their info. You can't rely on the few physical hours day-of-event to fully return your marketing investment at a trade show; you must also leverage your show participation before, during, and after. You can even do the "during" outside the walls of the show using social media.

Note that this is 5 signs your Special Event trade show booth needs help; when you're marketing to event planners, you have an obligation to show how your product, service, or venue will make their special event truly special and outside the box. Exhibitors in other industries get an easier pass on some of these issues, but everyone can benefit from these tips.

Event pros, step it up so you'll never have to worry if this list applies to you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To automate or not to automate?

(Image thanks to D'Arcy Norman via

With the escalating popularity of social media sites, I hear a lot of advice, especially in the wedding and event biz, about automating your social media feed.

This can consist of pre-scheduling tweets on Twitter, or scheduling blog posts in advance, or linking accounts with or other services, so one status update can show across several services, just to name a very few. Many of these services are great timesavers and used wisely, can make the task of social media for business more of a pleasure.

However, I would caution business owners to remember the "social" aspect of social media. Those whose only contribution to Twitter is the RSS feed of their blog, for example, run the risk of looking like they're only in it for themselves. Especially when said blog is simply a roster of products or services for sale and contains little real advice or education for prospective readers. If you're wondering why you have few followers, no blog comments, low blog stats, and little interaction, take a hard look at what you're putting out there and ask yourself, "Is this interesting to the type of people I'd like to interact with, and is it worth a response?"

Whether you choose to automate or not, make sure you keep the social in social media by interacting, reposting/retweeting, and assisting; the same as any good business owner would do in non-online life.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Job sharing in hospitality management

I've recently heard about several new openings at local Portland venues and hotels, and the turnover/chaos that inevitably accompanies these vacancies.  At the same time, I talk to many traditional and non-traditional university students who are having challenges finding a hospitality position that can work with their university schedule.

Job sharing works in other industries; is it being used to its full benefit in hospitality?  I could see a Catering Manager job share where two professionals, for example, one being a work-outside-the-home parent, and the other, a student going back to finish a professional degree.  They could split a schedule and service groups better and with more energy than a single Catering Manager could, working the traditional 7am - 7pm, 6-day a week schedule that is often found in our industry.

This method could save hotels money, increase productivity, improve service to clients, without adding the cost of another position.  In addition, hotels would have a wider and more diverse pool of candidates from which to choose, also increasing the likelihood of finding the perfect personality and experience fit for their property.

Are you seeing job sharing used in hospitality? Please comment here and let me know.