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Trade Shows

PokermanPokerman subscriber Posts: 5
edited January 2007 in Marketing
I plan on contracting for a 10x10 booth at the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Tradeshow in Las Vegas, March 6th and 7th.  We will be launching the MyTavernPoker.com website on the 1st of March and the tradeshow will be our first major marketing push. 
This will be my first tradeshow and I would appreciate any advice the community might have to offer.   I`ll be investing close to $5,000 and I want to ensure that I don`t overlook anything and get the biggest bang for my buck.  I may also need the services of various community members (if the price is right) to pull this off.  Sponsors would be nice too! So if you`re interested in some sort of sponsorship arrangement maybe we can create a win/win situation.
MyTavernPoker.com will be marketed to Bars and Taverns nationwide so they can host their own No Limit Texas Hold `Em Tournaments. MyTavernPoker.com will provide all the equipment, online point tracking software, seats to a National Amateur Poker Championship, instruction manuals (I`ve attended the Ignite Webinar so will be working with the software to create online tutorials), etc... 
Background:I have already been conducting "Hosted - Turnkey" tournaments for the past year under the name No Fee Texas Hold `Em Amateur Poker League.  We currently have over 2,000 members in the league but it is local to the Western Washington area. I have the experience and enough lessons learned to effectively support a nationwide self hosted league. 
Hosted tournaments can be prohibitively expensive for small venues.  Since these establishments already have waitstaff on hand we will present enough training material that the staff can effectively run their own tournaments.  Increasing customer service to the players and thus increasing beverage and food sales while eliminating the expense of an outside tournament host.
My Plan:There will be two individuals attending to the booth.  My marketing director and myself.  I hope to conduct mini "learn to play" tournaments to create an atmosphere of activity within the booth and to demonstrate the ease in which a tournament can be conducted with minimal space and equipment.  My marketing director will be available to explain our program to decision makers and get ink.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.  Pitfalls to avoid.  Best methodology for closing on the spot.  Sponsorship proposals.  Pokerman2007-1-16 13:26:45


  • Tangent1Tangent1 subscriber Posts: 0
    Hello pokerman,

    My experience is that tradeshow can be expensive.
    Usually a tradeshow is ran by a third-party contract company.
    You have to use their power-phone(?), internet, labor, installers,
    destallers, food service, ,carpet, padding, plants, vaccuuming etc. You
    should be able to get an exhibitor kit that runs down the costs. Shipping
    booth to show and back. It is a very detail-oriented event.

    I am putting a booth up in Nashville for the NCBA-National Cattlemans
    Business Association tradeshow. The show service wanted $1200 just to
    hang a sign above my client booth- finally got them down to 700 based
    on other services we were getting. Hiway robbery if you ask me.

    most of the business done at tradeshows is not on the tradeshow floor.
    It is in meeting rooms at the same hotel, Maybe look into promoting an
    event at a banquet room. Another idea is to do room drops.
    Flyers or candy on the pillow shaped as a coin or chip with an attached
    message. The hotel where the show is should help you with this

    You need a traffic builder. Try not to be cheesy-maybe a raffle for an
    IPOD nano-you can build a list of warm prospects. T-shirts-hats are
    always good. Maybe give away bags with your message on it so people
    are walking aroung promoting YOU and putting all ther "swag" in it.

    Do a postcard mailing 2-3 weeks prior to show to say "why to stop by
    your booth"

    Hope this helps


  • keyconkeycon subscriber Posts: 34
    I don`t know how busy this trade show is or how big it is ... I`ve done huge shows and local and regional, too. You`re too close to the show date to do a whole late of pre-prep and I won`t go into marketing scenarios that could have taken place many months ago planning for this show. I admire you for doing this and good luck - trade shows are fun, but exhausting. Take lots of Airborne - you`ll probably get sick during or right after the show - from coming into contact with SO many people and germs. If you`re flying in ... even worse. Good advice ... wear very comfortable shoes.
    You say it is you and one other person and you plan to conduct mini "learn to play" tournaments. Good luck. Most shows you don`t even have time to talk to every one you need to. You`re lucky if you get a chance to eat one of the shows` snake bar`s $15 lunches. Damn ... trade show food is awful and it costs a lot - no matter the venue or city.
    Ah, Las Vegas - don`t be tempted to stay up all night and then think you can do a trade show all day - it will kill you ... no matter your age. Ever been to Vegas? I hope you have and the excitement has worn off. Take a cooler in with you with water or soft drinks you like ... maybe even some food. You`ll talk so much your head will hurt. Your feet will hurt. Your legs will hurt. Take plenty of aspirin or Tylenol or Advil or your pain reliever of choice ... you`ll need it. Head straight to the bar when you leave the show ... indulge yourself ... you made it through another trade show day ... enjoy sitting down and having a cool one! Eat early, meet if necessary with potential clients, but get your sleep. Don`t be ashamed to call it an early night in Vegas ... there is no shame ... and veterans will admire you for your wisdom.
    The real trick is to make sure you capture as many people`s contact info that stopped at your booth as possible. Hopefully, your show has a name badge scanner so you may quickly capture this info. The followup is key. They showed interest at the show ... you sunk the hook ... now reel them in after the show. Trade shows are a great place to practice your business skills like remembering names. Make notes on business cards - even in front of people - it shows you are interested in them. Call their name often - they will remember you. Make notes of special or unique things they say ... could be the one thing that gets their attention when you follow up .. could be their kid`s name - a special interest in something they mentioned - a historical event - you get my drift. Pay attention to everything everyone says to you ... Remember that LISTEN and SILENT contain the same letters - not a coincidence.
    Tradeshows use to be about selling ... on the whole, now, they are not. Exposure. Followup. Education. Value. WIIFM (them, the customer).
    Next year, let`s get busy planning early for any and all shows you plan on doing. There is a lot of marketing and attention makers you can do that don`t cost an arm and a leg.
    Good luck Pokerman and get plenty of rest between now and March ... you`ll need it. I can already feel the excitement in the air!
    R@keycon2007-1-16 23:3:58
  • PokermanPokerman subscriber Posts: 5
    Thanks for all the great advice. 
    My wife has decided to go along too.... So it looks like I`ll definitely be getting my rest at night .....    
  • JessicaJessica subscriber Posts: 1
    Keycon definitely hit the nail on the head about a lot of the things you have to consider when going to a trade show.  Especially - comfortable shoes and as many people as you can afford to send to staff the booth, because if you do everything right, you will be overwhelmed by booth visitors!
    One other tip - make sure you get there plenty early to set-up - don`t leave it till the last couple of hours before set-up ends, because there are bound to be a few hiccups or items you ordered that don`t turn up when you arrive.  Be prepared to do a little troubleshooting and still leave yourself enough time to relax before the show floor opens, because you`ll need to be at the top of your game at that point!
  • PokermanPokerman subscriber Posts: 5
    Thanks for the advice.... we`ve been agonizing over what we could use as a giveaway that would be effective.
  • SmackieSmackie subscriber Posts: 0
    Fantastic advice from all that pretty much covers it.  It`s all right on.  My two cents is...
    Work the show, don`t let the show work you.  Meaning, have a good time with it.  When it`s finally showtime, you`re excitement and enthusiasm is what will ultimately make your booth.  I`ve seen some large and very expensive booths never have the impact they should because of the people working them.  It`s no time to watch complete movies on tv, sleep or crochet a blanket...ouch.  Even if you are feeling bored, or tired or lost in a day dream, try not to let it show.  If you look engaging it makes it much easier to be engaged.
    As for giveaways, they can be great, but do be careful. Don`t spend too much money for something that might do nothing more than become the tenth identical something collecting dust in the bottom drawer of a cubical for someone who just passed by your booth and had a big bag to fill.  Giveaways can be good and accomplish the goals of long term recognition and branding.  But choose wisely and, most importantly, be creative!  Come up with something fresh and signature to your business.  The more out-of -the-box it is, the more people remember.  You don`t have to spend a fortune but that may mean it could cost a little more.  If that is the case, you might not want your item to be just a grab and go.  If visitors really want it, make them earn it.  Make them play a quick game (poker) or perform a task.  Make it quick, easy, fun, inviting but a bit of a challenge.  The extra time they spend playing, the more they can look you over and you can talk.  This goes for others that may gather to watch.  If they do win your item, it will be even more special and rememorable..which is what gives the giveaway it`s value.
    Main thing, you`ve paid the price (financially and physically) to be there, enjoy the experience.  It`s fun, scary, exciting, draining but nothing beats meeting and exchanging with people in person.  So sleep, eat, look fresh, laugh it up, rock it out and (I`m really sorry for this but I can`t help it) let the cards fall where they may.  Best of luck!
  • Margecam52Margecam52 subscriber Posts: 0
    You have gotten some great advice.  Be ready with answers to the questions you may get.  Nothing looks as bad as a vendor without answers, or stumbling for words.
    Everyone in your booth should be able to answer any questions that arise.
    Hope you are prepared...took months for the company I worked for to set up for a show.
  • PokermanPokerman subscriber Posts: 5
    Wow... you guys are great... I can`t thank you enough!
  • showmanshowman subscriber Posts: 1
    Congratulations on entering the wild world of trade show marketing.  Having coordinated trade shows for numerous large and small companies in venues around the world, I know you are about to experience a unique selling and marketing event like no other opportunity.  The advice you have received so far is all extremely valuable and I recommend you take it all in and use it to your best advantage.  Some additional trade-show coordinator items to make your move-in and move-out easier are;
    - Read the ENTIRE show manuel, even if at first it appears certain areas may not pertain to you, it will give you knowledge on how the system works.
    - The majority of trade show regulations for a 10`x10` booth space will restruct your exhibit properties to be no more that 8` high and extend no more than 3` to 5` from the rear of the booth space.  Make sure you`re within regulations.
    - A 10`x10` booth space probably won`t allow any hanging signs so this probably won`t be a concern of yours, however make sure your company name is as high, large and visible as possible on your backwall.
    - The general rule is that you can set up your own booth if it takes no longer than 30 minutes and doesn`t require any tools.
    - A `pop-up` type booth from any reputable manufacturer will conform to regulations such as fire codes, stability, etc.  Make sure yours does also.
    - Submit appropriate paperwork PROIR to the deadline date with corresponding payments and instructions as needed.  Orders placed after deadline dates cost more and items may not be available.
    - Take a copy of your submitted paperwork (as well as faxed confirmation sheets) as back-up in case show-providers cannot locate their copy.
    - EVERYTHING is geared to the booth number, so make absolutely sure your booth number is correct and on all paperwork.
    - We do approximately 8-10 events in Las Vegas every year and know that depending on where your show is, (Convention Center, Sands, Mandalay Bay, Venetian, etc.) regulations can vary from which labor union is responsible for what to what kind of lighting fixture is allowed.  If you are unsure of anything and can`t locate it in the show manual, contact the show organizer and have them clarify the question in writing (of course, take this response with you).
    - If your product requires electrical, you can normally assemble this yourself, however, running power cords under the carpet, thru cabinets, special lighting or high powered requirements, the electrical union has to do that.  Same thing during dismantle.
    - Again, depending on the location, show management, fire marshal, labor unions, electrical union, etc. some things you can do yourself, others not.  Do not do anything that is potentially dangerous to you or your fellow exhibitors.  If in doubt, ask the floor manager or go to the exhibitor service desk as ask.  Do not get into any disagreements with the floor personnel, they are very valuable to you and really do have a common goal of seeing that all exhibitors are set up and ready to go when the doors open.  If need be, go to the service desk or talk with show management.
    - Be very aware and carefull on the show floor, there is alot of moving equipment, trash and seeming confusion during move-in and move-out.
    - Bring and drink lots of water, March in Las Vegas can be hot or cold or just right.  The show halls typically are not heated or cooled during move-in or move-out, and you probably will get dirty, dress appropriately. (i.e. no shorts, sandles).  Smoking is not allowed on the floor during move-in or move-out (even though you may see it done).
    - If you can keep your shipping containers within your booth space during the show, it will elliminate your having to wait for your returning containers at the close of the event.
    - Make sure you get the apporpriate "EMPTY" label for your booth.  This lable is used to temporarily store your empty shipping containers during the show.  Depending on the size of the show, various colored labels are sometimes used.
    - Verify all orders have been received and processed at the exhibitor service desk prior to start of move-in and verify all final billing prior to the close of the event.  Insist on any adjustments to be made THEN, it can be extremely difficult to get any adjustment after the show closes.
    - Las Vegas airport gets extremely busy and I recommend not trying to fly out the same day the show closes.  You never know exactly when your cases will return, when your exhibit properties get dismantled, or any other number of potential delays.
    - Fill out the "Bill of Lading" very carefully, turn it in to the service desk and keep your copy.  This is used for the carrier to pick up your properties, load them onto his truck and ship it to you.
    Hope this helps, we stand ready to assist as needed.
    John Cullen
  • PokermanPokerman subscriber Posts: 5
    Again... WOW... what wonderful advice from everyone.
    This information is invaluable.
  • nevadasculnevadascul subscriber Posts: 3 Member
    Hi Pokerman,
    Many of the people I met, who attend trade shows on a regular basis, get adjoining rooms.  One room is there leeping quarters.  The other is set up as a display and informal meeting area away from the noise and chaos of the trade show area.  Potential buyers can then be invited back to the display room to take a longer and less hurried look at your product line.  The room also provides a quiet place to close the sale.
    Good luck
  • PokermanPokerman subscriber Posts: 5
    Still reading.... still absorbing... I`m very very thankful for the information,
  • ModJulieModJulie subscriber Posts: 1
    So, how was the show??? I happened to run into a friend that was at a roofing convention in Vegas, and he mentioned another show the Nightclub & Bar Convention that was there at the same time.  It reminded me of this forum topic.  He mentioned that your show seemed like a lot more fun than the roofing show.
  • PokermanPokerman subscriber Posts: 5
    Unfortunately, My wife became very ill a couple of weeks ago and had to undergo an emergency bowel resection and I was unable to attend this year.  I will be there next year and thanks to the great information I`ve recieved from the members of Startupnation much better prepared than I would have been with out this community.
    I have learned something very important through all this.... family is everything and no amount of business is worth not being with your loved ones when they are in need.
  • ModJulieModJulie subscriber Posts: 1
    I`m so sorry to hear about your wife, I do hope she is doing better.
    You are so right about family being everything.  There will always be another trade show.
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