A LOT MORE THAN “PUMPING IRON.” TEAMWORK EVENT SPECIALISTS HANDLES GENERAL CONTRACTING FOR THE 2017 “JOE WEIDER’S FITNESS & PERFORMANCE WEEKEND”; We Take a Look at the History of the Event, and at the Business and Culture of Muscle Building and Fitness

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Teamwork Event Specialists is a national leader in special event general contracting and production.

We are based in the Boston area with offices in major cities throughout the U.S.

Teamwork Event Specialist clients include among the world’s largest and best known companies, as well as small and recent startups, and businesses of every size and profile in between.  Every client receives the same uncompromising Teamwork dedication to quality.

One of our newest clients, one which holds a name of high renown in the fitness and sports performance category, is Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend – the world’s premier bodybuilding and fitness event, held annually in September in Las Vegas.

This year’s Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend started two days ago and runs through tomorrow.

Teamwork is the official general contractor for the 2017 event, which includes the main events: the Mr. Olympia, and the fitness, physique, and bikini competitions held at the The Orleans Hotel & Casino – and the exposition which is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The exposition will include a tradeshow and several demonstrations and competitions.  Among the tradeshow exhibitors will be sports nutrition, sports equipment, sportswear, and gym franchise companies.  On the demonstration and competition front there will be martial arts, a male fitness model search, CrossFit, powerlifting, Zumba, a Strongman challenge, LexTwerkout (LTO), and a Ninja Warrior gauntlet.

Across both venues, Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend will occupy more than 500,000 square feet.   More than 200 exhibitors will participate in the tradeshow portion of the exposition.

“The Mr. Olympia competition is iconic, and the most powerful brand name in bodybuilding and fitness,” said Curt DaRosa, General Manager of Teamwork Event Specialists-. “And Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend is the signature, the number one, event in all of bodybuilding and fitness.  It is an honor for Teamwork to serve as the official general contractor.”

A Culture and Sport is Born

From whence originated Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend?

This is a story is, as it would have to be, of bodybuilding – and of fitness.

Some might say that serious bodybuilding … and fitness … in America traces to the Physical Culture movement, which started in the mid 1800s in the U.S., Germany, and England.  Physical culture stressed calisthenics, gymnastics, and combat sports such as boxing, fencing, and wrestling. The movement also featured the use of exercise equipment.

Then there was Jack LaLanne, who in 1936 opened the first fitness club in the U.S.  Weightlifting (aka resistance training) was one component of LaLanne’s prescription for healthy living, along with a strict diet of natural foods.  Through his TV exercise show, and books, and other media, he and his teachings achieved pop icon and powerhouse brand status.

Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend, though, is more directly rooted to the establishment – in 1946 – of the first true international bodybuilding organization: the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB).

Founding the IFBB were two brothers from Montreal, Ben and Joe Weider.  The IFBB founding countries were Canada and the United States.  Right out of the blocks the IFBB ran various bodybuilding contests and events.

Until the mid-1960s, bodybuilding held only a small niche in U.S. culture.  Even as it was a serious hobby to many, it was not widely popular.  It was not considered anything close to mainstream.  Not many thought of it as a sport.

That began to change when early in the spring of 1965, the Weider brothers – with Joe Weider taking the lead – decided and took upon themselves to found a signature bodybuilding championship event, one that would give the biggest name bodybuilder of the day, Larry Scott, a chance to win a title of higher profile than those of Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe, all of which he already had claimed.

It would be a title that also conferred a cash award – albeit modest.

What the Weiders launched was Mr. Olympia, the supreme bodybuilding event and title.

The inaugural Mr. Olympia was held on September 18, 1965 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  Predictably, becoming the first Mr. Olympia and winning $1000, was Larry Scott.

Larry Scott repeated as champion in 1966 and won another $1000.

Bodybuilding and its culture were about to explode.

Aiding that explosion was a new type of bodybuilder: one more massive and defined, and displaying a form of proportion and sweep and symmetry not yet seen.  Two of those men – the primary and best known exemplars of the new type – were Sergio Oliva, from Cuba, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, from Austria.

Sergio Oliva won the 1967, 1968, and 1969 Mr. Olympias.  Runner-up in the 1969 contest was Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Schwarzenegger won the five Mr. Olympias held from 1970 through 1975.

By 1970, the IFBB had officials in 50 countries – with those countries spanning across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America

Also helping considerably the profile of bodybuilding was the release of the 1977 docudrama “Pumping Iron,” which dramatized and told the story of bodybuilders preparing for and competing in the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions.

Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on “Pumping Iron”:

“ …. Directed by George Butler and Robert Fiore, it is inspired by a book of the same name by Butler and Charles Gaines, and nominally centers on the competition between Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of his primary competitors for the title of Mr. Olympia, Lou Ferrigno. The film also features segments on bodybuilders Franco Columbu and Mike Katz, in addition to appearances by Ken WallerEd CorneySerge Nubret, and other famous bodybuilders of the era.

“Shot during the 100 days leading up to the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions and during the competitions themselves, the filmmakers ran out of funds to finish production and it stalled for two years. Ultimately, Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilders featured in the film helped to raise funds to complete production, and it was released in 1977. The film became a box office success, making Schwarzenegger a household name. The film also served to popularize the culture of bodybuilding, which was somewhat niche at the time, and helped to inspire the fitness craze of the 1980s; following the film’s release, there was a marked increase in the number of commercial gyms in the U.S.”

Rededication, on Oct. 6, 2014, of Arnold Schwarzenegger statue in downtown Columbus, OH. Originally statue was located in front of Franklin County Veterans Memorial convention center in the city, but was moved to downtown Columbus ahead of the demolition of the convention center. Statue is a tribute to Schwarzenegger and his friendship with Columbus. The Arnold Sports Festival is held annually in Columbus. On stage, from left to right, Schwarzenegger, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (image credit: 10TV News)

“Pumping Iron,” and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the competition, surely helped to inspire the “fitness craze of the 1980s”.  It was germination for the florescence of the modern health club in America during that decade.

This is true even if an argument can be made that the first modern health club was launched when Joe Gold, himself a fitness and bodybuilding pioneer, opened his first Gold’s Gym, in 1965 in Venice, CA.

(The “modern” health club was differentiated from Jack LaLanne’s fitness clubs in that it was larger and had for more types of exercise equipment.)

What also early on powered the American fitness craze was the performance that birthed and gave rise to the 1970s running boom in America:  the U.S.’s Frank Shorter winning the gold medal in the marathon in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

And, for sure, when the 1980s arrived, the U.S. was engulfed in a fitness epidemic.

Consider this excerpt from a story, titled, “Club Industry Features Clubs of the 1980s,” published in 2008 at the website of Club Industry, an online gym and health club industry publication:

Richard Simmons in his heyday in the 1980s (image credit: Richard Simmons)

“By the time the 1980s — the decade of Ronald Reagan, ‘Dallas’ and JR Ewing, Richard Simmons, big shoulder pads and even bigger hair — arrived, the fitness industry had emerged from basements and garages where it had been home to bodybuilders to become an industry of tennis, racquetball and fitness facilities appealing to a broader market with broader offerings. In 1981, 70 million Americans — about half the adult population — did some form of exercise compared to 24 percent who did so in 1960. Thirteen million of those people belonged to at least one of the 5,000 health clubs in the country at that time.”

Please click here to be taken to the full story, written by Pamela Kufahl, Editor-In-Chief of Club Industry.

Time Magazine Cover, November 2, 1981 (image credit: Time)

Joe and Ben Weider continued to shepherd the bodybuilding aspect of the fitness craze.  They continued to build the Mr. Olympia, which was a component of a broad bodybuilding and fitness empire – one that included other competitions, and publishing and nutritional supplements.

Bodybuilding grew, and Mr. Olympia served as a standard bearer and spearhead for that growth.

In 1980, the inaugural Ms. Olympia, the professional female bodybuilding contest counterpart was held.  Winning the competition was Rachel McLish.  The Ms. Olympia, which would become the Miss Olympia, was held annually as a stand-alone event until 2000, when it became a part of what was then called the “Olympia Weekend,” of which the locus was the Mr. Olympia competition.

On the men’s side of the ledger, by 1984, first-place prize money had reached $50,000.  Winning the 1984 Mr. Olympia, as he would do for the following seven straight years was the U.S.’s Lee Haney.  When the UK’s Dorian Yates, in 1992, began his six-in-a-row winning streak, he took home $100,000, as he would for every win.

On the scene, in 1998, was Ronnie Coleman, a U.S. athlete.  His win, in New York City, came with a $110,000 cash award.  Following the 1998 contest, Mr. Olympia was moved permanently to Las Vegas.  It was in Las Vegas that Ronnie Coleman ran his Mr. Olympia consecutive winning streak to eight, with the final win bringing him $150,000.


Ms. Olympia continued to be held – even as the sport failed to attract near the following as did Mr. Olympia.  A physique competition of  overly muscular females did not have the draw of a physique competition of overly muscular males.

Miss Olympia history is one of dominance by U.S. athletes who put together long winning streaks – including Corinna Everson, who won six consecutive titles, from 1984 through 1989; Lenda Murray, who also won six titles in a row, from 1990 through 1995, and consecutive titles in 2002 and 2003; and Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls, who four consecutive titles, from 1996 through 1999.

Recent photo of six-time Ms. Olympia Lenda Murray

And then there was Iris Kyle.  She won Miss Olympia titles in 2003 and 2004.  That was just the start.  From 2006 through 2014, she won every Miss Olympia.  Perhaps Iris Kyle could have built on her record of 10 Ms. Olympia wins.   Yet 2014 would be the final Miss Olympia.


Yet even as the Miss Olympia was discontinued and not started back up, the Joe Weider Mr. Olympia franchise expanded and grew other competitions, including in the figure and fitness categories – and then CrossFit … and then Zumba … and then …

Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend represented and encompassed more and more of the realm of fitness and sports performance.


But Mr. Olympia remains the anchor.

In 2009 and 2010, the U.S.’s Jay Cutler won his third and fourth Mr. Olympia (he also won in 2006 and 2007), with each of his final two wins earning him $200,000.

The 20011 Mr. Olympia was won by Phil “The Gift” Heath, a native of Seattle and a former shooting guard for the NCAA Div. 1 University of Denver basketball team. Heath took home $250,000.  Heath made it five Mr. Olympias in a row in 2015, and won $400,000 that year, the same amount when he improved his win streak to six in 2016.

Other 2016 Mr. Olympia money winners are as follows, with place and athlete paired with the cash prize:  2.) Shawn Rhoden (U.S.) $150,000; 3.) Dexter Jackson (U.S.) $100,000; 4.) Mamdouh Elssbiay (Egypt) $55,000; 5.) William Bonac (Ghana) $45,000; 6.) Roelly Winklaar (Curacao) $35,000; 7.) Cedric McMillan (U.S.) $25,000; 8.) Dallas McCarvar (U.S.) $20,000; 9.) Josh Lenartowicz (Australia) $18,000; 10.) and Justin Compton (U.S.) $16,000.


What began as a bodybuilding competition followed by a small society of enthusiasts and physical culturalists, has become the biggest bodybuilding and fitness and active lifestyle extravaganza on the planet.

While the 2017 Mr. Olympia champion will make $250,000, not the $400,000 awarded in 2015 and 2016, total prize money across the competitions is a record $900,000.

The exposition element of the weekend continues to grow and expand rapidly across its tradeshow and all its competitions and performances.

“Teamwork is inspired with the challenge of delivering for a winning and championship organization,” said Curt DaRosa.  “And Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend is a true winner and a true champion.”

Trade show organizers are becoming increasingly edgy as they explore new ways to use event technologies a means of making life easier for exhibitors and increasing the value proposition for attendees.

4 Ways Organizers Can Deploy Event Technologies

Every industry is modernizing at a rapid pace, and the exhibition sector is no different. Trade show organizers are becoming increasingly edgy as they explore new ways to use event technologies as a means of making life easier for exhibitors and increasing the value proposition for attendees.

If you're interested in including some new tricks and electronics at your next event, here are a few ways you could do so:

1. Wayfinding
What used to be limited to just a few signs and a stale-looking paper map has now become a revolutionary way to point attendees where you want them to go, and also to spruce up the floor.

"RFID chips spawn innovation through data capturing."

Radio Frequency Identification tags, better known as RFID chips, are changing the game, according to Event Brite. Organizers can insert these into wrist bands that can be given out for free to attendees. These will track peoples' movements and relay back data. The findings can then be reviewed before the next event to see where the layout confused attendees, which spots of the venue are most popular and how long it takes a person to get from point A to point B, among other things.

While RFID tags are useful for improving wayfinding in the event after the fact, dynamic signage, holograms and event apps are best used during the event as a means of helping people find their way. For example, dynamic signage can be programmed to alert attendees about certain events like guest speakers or networking sessions, while holograms can be deployed at various areas in the venue to provide a bird's eye view of the location as a way to help people find the booth they're looking for.

2. Stirring interest
Although part of an organizer's job during the event is to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, it's also an excellent time to talk to attendees and exhibitors about visiting the next show. Pictures speak a thousand words, which is why virtual reality is turning out some of the best pitches ever seen.

One of the difficulties in enticing exhibitors or high-spend attendees to commit to another event is that the explanation can sound sort of like an illusion or a mirage. Unless you've perfected the elevator pitch, you may find yourself struggling for the right words to explain just how important, useful and fun the event is.

Virtual reality provides a real glimpse into what your next show has to offer, which takes away the factor of the unknown. And it's easy to use—just upload the images and hand the VR gear over. Event Manager Blog reported that "difficulty of use" is a key factor in how technology will be received.

Live streaming allows attendees to personalize their experience.Live streaming allows attendees to personalize their experience.

3. Power to the people
Livestreaming has become incredibly popular in the latter half of this decade, especially as smartphones become more powerful. No longer do people need high-tech camera equipment to get good video of an event—they can stream right from their phone.

Apps like Periscope and Snapchat are allowing trade show organizers to shift the responsibility of marketing from themselves to their attendees. Inc. Magazine reported that this type of action allows people to personalize the event—they're no longer lost in the crowd, but rather in the spotlight for their audience.

Of course, event organizers can't just hope and pray that a popular streamer picks their event to broadcastthere needs to be enticement. Consider offering those who stream, whether they be exhibitors or attendees, a sizable reward. This could be free or discounted entry into your next event or first pick of a sponsorship opportunity for companies showing off their products.

4. Attendee engagement
At the very core of incorporating event technology is the
idea that it facilitates better attendee and exhibitor engagement. An event app can easily promote interactions between the two parties if used correctly.

Make your event mobile app intuitive and easy to use. When someone walks into the venue, they should be able to open it and understand which sections contain the booths, companies and products they're looking for. This allows them to see more exhibitors in a shorter time frame, which is what both parties want.

If you find there isn't much budget left for the marketing department, here are a few tips that could help you stay in the black.

Market Your Trade Show Booth For Free

New technologies and methods of promotion have made an exhibitor's task of marketing a trade show booth that much easier. While time is always a valued commodity, these methods are about as affordable as it gets to spread the word about your wares.

If you find there isn't much budget left for the marketing department, here are a few tips that could help you stay in the black:

Social media
Time and time again, social media will come out on top as the most affordable and effective mode of promoting an event. But it's not enough just to throw a couple of tweets on the internet and hope for the best. Exhibitors must target a demographic and create catchy, yet relevant, hashtags that can drive participation across multiple applications.

Begin with Twitter and Facebook—the two most well-know social media platforms. According to Handshake, you should use these tools to tell a story. Keep your loyal followers engaged by updating them about where your team is in the booth creation process. This could be through the use of pictures and videos, or simple updates. Be sure to use the trade show's hashtag, and also your own.

Then move onto other platforms. Snapchat pairs very well with hashtags and can generate interest during the show as well as beforehand. Hubspot reported that location-based services like Foursquare can be used to promote certain deals or giveaways, making it very useful for establishing a presence in a very large venue.

It's all about who you know
The great thing about the widespread use of technology nowadays is that everyone is always connected. Take advantage of this by reverting to an older trick of the tradeword of mouth. This is glossed over far too often, but is entirely effective when it comes to affordable marketing.

"See if your friends in the media want to cast a spotlight on your booth."

First, begin close to home. Your employees are your biggest assets, and if you generate enough internal buzz about the event, it's likely they'll share it within their professional network. This means more LinkedIn and industry coverage than any of your old marketing campaigns could've hoped to achieve.

If you've been exhibiting for a while, it's likely you've gained some friends in the press. As Event Manager Blog reported, trade shows are relevant news storiesespecially for industry-specific magazines. Leverage your experience at the event by giving an interview with the reporter. This way, the journalist receives a great story detailing every aspect of the trade show, and your booth gets some free publicity. This also works well with bloggers, too.

Another way to generate some free recognition for your booth is to become a speaker at the event. Sure, this is easier said than done, but if you have a knack for public speaking then you can work with your team to generate some content that will be valuable to those who attend. Talk with the trade show organizer to see if any more presentation positions need to be filledthen your name, company and booth will be on every pamphlet passed out to attendees.

Giving a presentation at a trade show can boost your publicity.Giving a presentation at a trade show can boost your publicity.

Don't stand around
When you get to the trade show, don't just sit there waiting for people to engage in a conversation with you. Being active both at your booth and in neutral spaces within the venue can lead to an increase in face-to-face meeting times.

Giveaways work well, but leaving them on your table won't help if no one is visiting. Handshake recommended dedicating a portion of the staff to network in common meeting spaces and food and beverage areas with the sole purpose of interacting with attendees. This way they can hand out the swag and goodies you came along withyou were going to get rid of it anyway, so it might as well go toward trying to wrangle new faces into the booth area.

Another way to incorporate this method is if you're utilizing event technologies like virtual reality at your booth, consider investing in an affordable, portable alternative like Google Cardboard. This way, salespeople can have products in hand to show attendees at these impromptu meetings. This is maximizing your available amount of space, though be sure not to advertise in the aisles or at other booth spaces.

In the end, your goal should be to stay active and excited about your productattendees will feed off of that energy and want to visit your booth.

With many Boomers gearing up for retirement, and Generation Xers to follow suit soon thereafter, the road is paved clear for millennials to step in as the decision-maker for their respective companies.

Bridging the Gap: Lead Acquisition and Millennials

Millennials surpassed Generation X as being the largest share of the workforce in late 2015, according to a Pew Research Center report. What impact does this have on the trade show industry?

With many Boomers gearing up for retirement, and Generation Xers to follow suit soon thereafter, the road is paved clear for millennials to step in as the decision-maker for their respective companies. This fundamentally changes how salespeople should approach lead acquisition at exhibitions.

Understanding millennials
Smartphones, social media and on-demand access to the internetmillennials grew up with these things in their lives, and this should be kept in mind as exhibitors create their booths. The goal is to appeal to this specific demographic, rather than deploying a broad-reaching campaign.

"Millennials expect a two-way, mutual relationship with companies and their brands," the Boston Consulting Group wrote in a blog post. "We call this the reciprocity principle. Through the feedback they express both offline and online, millennials influence the purchases of other customers and potential customers. They also help define the brand itself. The internet, social media, and mobile devices greatly amplify millennials' opinions and accelerate their impact."

This generation enjoys challenging the status quo, which means you'll need to convince them your product is better than the competitor's, rather than relying on reputation alone. With all of this in mind, you'll want to create a marketing campaign that meshes well with your booth design. This means using technology to lure in a cold lead and turn it into a sure thing.

Marketing before the event
Pre-event marketing is now more important than ever before. Exhibitors need to build a connection with millennials, rather than treat them as just another customer. While this could be what your company has been doing all along, you'll deploy very different means to do so moving forward.

"Millennials enjoy engaging digital content."

It's well known that the modern marketing strategy incorporates a lot of digital aspects. This means spending more time and resources on all different types of social media like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. But what's lesser-known is what types of content actually work. To this we turn to a term dubbed Netflix'ization, according to Skura.

While you may read that millennials have short-attention spans, the opposite is true for things they really enjoy doing. The generation devotes countless hours to consuming digital content, like watching shows and movies on Netflix, meaning this could be an effective approach to take.

Rather than try and build a following with short interactions, consider drafting longer types of content that will resonate with the audience. So, instead of a short clip highlighting your product use-cases, create a longer montage that pulls real footage from past exhibitions. Create a weekly Snapchat or Twitter series that asks the audience for their input on engaging topics related to your industry. These types of interactions will help create a relationship between your brand and the consumer.

Netflix'ization is a strategy that incorporates engaging digital content.Netflix'ization is a strategy that incorporates engaging digital content.

Lead acquisition during the show
At this point, you should have a respectable following on social media. Now is your chance to parlay that into lead conversions.

Millennials don't want to feel like they're being spoon-fed information. Handshake reported that exhibitors should use interactive tactics to draw a crowd in and help drive home the point that your product is superior. There's no better way to create a modern, crowd-pleasing booth space than by incorporating event technologies.

Salespeople should take the time to vet an attendee on every aspect of the product—this speaks toward the reciprocity principle. Holograms can run from affordable to expensive, but for many industries they provide an excellent platform to display a ware, both by itself or in action. So, instead of telling millennials why a certain mechanism in the engine you're selling is better than another brand, you can actually disassemble a replica of a motor and show them exactly how it works.

It's also important to remember that while a networking event may be "just another socializing session" for industry veterans, these are crucial opportunities for millennials to advance their fledgling careers. If the trade show organizer hasn't set aside time for young professionals to meet, consider hosting a 15 minute meet-and-greet right at your own booth. This will guarantee visibility for your product and your brand and will help create a connection between your company and the target audience.

Successful trade shows have high exhibitor retention rates—here are some tips to improve yours.

Boost Your Exhibitor Retention Rate

A successful trade show hinges on three components—venue, attendees and exhibitors. You can divert all your attention to the first two, but if you don't retain exhibitors well, then your event will ultimately suffer.

Keeping an all-star cast of exhibitors can help the event in a number of ways, but first, it's important to understand what it means to lose one.

The impact of losing exhibitors
Companies and organizations presenting at trade shows are like the organizer's customersthey keep revenue flowing through the business and ensure annual exhibition success. Losing a booth or two every single year can cause the brand to take a negative hit, once loyal attendees stop showing up as well. These two factors can lead to poor financial support.

Trade Show News Network gathered a couple of eye-opening statistics on the importance of keeping exhibitors:

  • Retaining an exhibitor is five times less expensive than bringing on a new one.
  • Improving retention rates by just 5 percent can boost profits between 25 and 125 percent.
  • More than two-thirds of exhibitors leave due to poor servicelikely coming from the organizer.

Not only will letting any amount of exhibitors leave your event each year cause financial distress, but it will mean you have less time to organize the trade show next year as you'll need to recruit new organizations to present.

Exhibitor retention is all about proving value in the event.Exhibitor retention is all about proving value in the event.

Asses event performance
Perhaps the best way to boost retention rates is to give exhibitors a reason to stay. It seems simple, yet is often overlooked. Your job shouldn't end when the event concludes. The Meeting Magazine reported trade show organizers should track key metrics throughout the event that can then be given to decision-making exhibitors as a means to show just how successful their attendance was.

These metrics can include steady improvements in attendance year-to-year, overall fiscal investment in the show from a number of different benefactors, or even how many leads the average booth collects. Some key performance indicators are easy to find, some might be more difficult and may require an event app to keep track of conversations, meetings and exchanging information. Providing exhibitors with a proprietary lead capture application is incredibly useful in determining how successful an event was, and how much of a return on investment each exhibitor received.

The gathered statistics can then be used to create a guide detailing how exhibitors can achieve all of their goals at your event, according to TSNN. The handbook could include quotes from successful exhibitors, or flat-out instructions on how to utilize the event app to their best benefit. The idea is to make their jobs easier.

Loyalty program
Consider creating a program that reimburses exhibitors based on how many consecutive years they've attended your event. The rewards could come in a number of different ways.

One way to entice repeat customers is to simply mark down the cost of admission. So, for each year the exhibitor presents, they receive a small discount on the initial buy-in cost to be there. Another way to provide value is by allocating certain valuable sponsorship opportunities to the longest tenured exhibitors. There are so many different ways to institute a loyalty program that the only hard part should be turning away new exhibitors looking to get in on the action.

"Keeping attendance numbers high entices exhibitors to stay."

Boost attendance
Sometimes the exhibitor retention issue simply comes down to the fact there aren't enough attendees to go around. There are a couple of different methods that can be implemented to avoid this dilemma.

The first solution is fairly obviousimprove attendance rates. This means more marketing on your end, which is always easier said than done. Work with your current exhibitors to obtain videos and photos for use on social media to create awareness about the event.

TSNN reported that one way to better route traffic is to utilize email as a means of sending out exhibitors' marketing material before the doors open. While it isn't legal for these organizations to have the attendance list, your staff can still figure out which attendees are most interested in certain products, and cater the email list to that crowd.

Ultimately, the goal should be to prove to current exhibitors that presenting at the trade show provides more than just monetary gain. Aim to help them generate brand exposure and improve their reputations—two intangibles not found through any mere marketing campaign. Also, don't be afraid to help them have fun. While trade shows are a big expense and should be taken seriously, all work and no play makes for a less enticing experience.

With the right planning, exhibitors can help the planet one booth at a time - and gain some great marketing material in the process.

Is Your Exhibition Environmentally Friendly?

This year is the warmest Earth has ever had. The record-holder beforehand? Just last year.

That's right, Live Science has reported temperatures are setting new highs hand over foot and the world is at a loss as to how to stop it. In the interim, environmentally friendly efforts are becoming a viable strategy for reducing carbon emissions. With the right planning, exhibitors can help the planet one booth at a time – and gain some great marketing material in the process.

A green industry
It's important to understand the history of the environmentally friendly trend. According to Exhibitor Online, the "cleantech" movement began in 2006 and garnered roughly $50 billion in funding from investors across a number of different sectors. But when the U.S. housing market collapsed in 2007 and the world market followed in 2008, the bottom fell out of the movement rather quick.

"Green needs to be sold to the decision-maker as the best option, not a substitution."

Back then, consumers viewed green products as expensive, but worth paying for to help the environment. In this day and age, where budgets are hyper focused on return on investment metrics, this type of thinking doesn't pay the bills and usually gets passed over. As Elon Musk has shown with Tesla, though, clean doesn't necessarily mean expensive, but can instead represent something of the highest quality and most affordable in its class.

"Beautiful, well-crafted, cool, and seriously fast, the Model S isn't just the most important car of the year," Road and Track reported. "It's the most important car America has made in an entire lifetime."

By making the Model S one of the better cars in its class, Tesla bucked the trend that environmentally friendly has to be flawed, and instead can be flawless. This is the approach exhibitors have to take when planning for a trade show.

ROI for caring
There are a number of different aspects of a trade show that can be environmentally friendly, but booth design is perhaps one of the most important – and provides a nice ROI. Consider this – recycled materials are often less heavy than conventional components like steel frames. That right there means less shipping, which in turn provides a more affordable drayage cost.

The goal here should be to have less of an impact on the environment than your previous exhibit did. There are a few different ways you can achieve this. With the industry trending toward digital, though, LED lights have to be at the top of an exhibitor's list. According to Trade Show Advisor, LED lightbulbs use 95 percent less energy than typical lights, which equates to a sizable reduction in carbon emissions for the event.

Other ways at reshaping the booth design are to simply use less materials, incorporate more recycled elements like bamboo or reclaimed wood, or use objects that can last for a large number of trade shows, rather than being thrown away after the first one.

All of these methods will help bring a return on investment as environmentally friendly equipment is often less expensive, both in upfront cost and drayage.

Consider using recycled materials to design your next trade show booth.Consider using recycled materials to design your next trade show booth.

Don't forget about marketing and swag
Even the free material an exhibiting company gives out to attendees could become more environmentally friendly. According to the Trade Group, this is especially true for promotional items. Many trade show organizers still market the event through fliers and letters, or give attendees company information in pamphlets, but this is a massive waste of paper. While many efforts are moving digital nowadays, those who continue to use these methods should always use recycled paper, Trade Group reported.

Besides that, the source recommended using recycled versions of all the free giveaway items. This green option is available for mugs, pens and T-shirts. Work with your supplier to learn how they can accommodate your environmentally friendly plans.

A unique way of handing out company information – and sticking with the digital theme – is to upload all of your distributable assets to a USB flash drive and hand those out as giveaway items. That way you cut down on paper, visitors automatically see your information and get to use your company branded USB after the event – it's a win for everyone.

There are a ton of ways to run an environmentally friendly exhibition, and these are just a few. All of them can be cost-effective if implemented correctly, and can even bring a hefty return on investment.

Time management is a sacrosanct principle every trade show organizer has to have.

Stay On Task With These 5 Tips

Time management is a sacrosanct principle every trade show organizer has to have.

If you feel like you've been cutting it close in a couple of key areas while organizing your next trade show, here are a few tips to help speed things up and keep you on task.

1. Plan ahead
This seems simple enough, but rarely is it accomplished as it should be. You may ask yourself how much more you can possibly plan ahead for, but in reality, there's a ton. Just think of all the unexpected tasks that have popped up at your last few events. Now write them down—these are what you have to watch for the next time around.

Trade Show Advisor reported that simple things like hotel reservations, installation and dismantle time and dates, venue floor set up and booking event sponsors are often the small details that get lost in the frenzy of getting the bigger picture together—the event. Tackling these ahead of time can save an organization from the countless costs that add up if forgotten. For example, ordering a rental car ahead of time will save you from the exorbitant costs of cab fare. Similarly, booking hotel accommodations months ahead of time, instead of weeks, could mean the difference between staying in a hotel across the street from the venue, or one that is 30 minutes away.

"Don't be afraid to delegate."

2. Hand things off
Delegating certain projects to other members of the team may feel like you're just handing other people work you don't want to do, but that isn't the case in the slightest. A McKinsey and Co. study reported that time management skills in the modern era aren't a result of poor handling on the employees part, but rather an institutional issue tied to the organization. Simply put—it's not your fault there's so much work to be done, it's the company's.

After you've drawn up a plan of attack for the next 3-, 6- or 9-month stretch, you'll want to get everyone on your team situated on a social planning tool. Basecamp has been around forever, and that's a go-to for many groups working on different components of a project. Slack also offers an exceptional product for making sure everyone is on the same page.

Once you have a way to keep everyone on the team in the loop, identify which tasks need you specifically to succeed, and which just need a sign-off. This is an excellent way to keep you churning through deadlines at a decent clip, while giving members of your team a chance to prove they can take on the bigger picture stuff.

3. Everything finance
If you don't have a degree in accounting or experience dealing with contracts, much of the trade show organizer's duties will be foreign. Deadlines are natural components of contracts, and they're seemingly due every day. Everything from the venue, to catering, to general service contractor to exhibitors requires a sign-off.

Event Manager Blog reported that it may help to take a couple of necessary precautions:

  1. Write everything down that may need your signature, sign-off or a check made payable to something.
  2. Invest in bidding, contracting or invoice software BidSketch or Quick Books. Make sure to vet the program first to see if it's right for you.

These two tasks seem simple on paper, but take time to set up. Don't cut corners while coming up with a fail-proof plan to handle everything financial—missing something will cost you an arm and a leg.

Skipping out on finance duties now can create trouble later.Skipping out on finance duties now can create trouble later.

4. Establish a plan for leads
Most exhibitors attend for one thing—qualified leads. According to Ring Central, it's important that trade show organizers plan ahead how they'll help facilitate interactions between professionals and attendees. Otherwise, you'll be sifting through a lot of angry feedback from both sides.

Employ the help of a mobile event app to handle the networking part for you. Many apps can be customized to facilitate discussions through meet-ups, chat rooms or a lead capture system that gets the sales funnel going right on the floor. Avoiding any potential setbacks here can clear your schedule to focus on what really needs to be done.

5. Above all else
Have fun. While organizing a trade show involves a ton of pre-show planning, careful time management during the show and quickly executed steps to be followed during clean-up, you need to find a time to enjoy yourself in the middle somewhere.

When you're having fun, time flies by. When you aren't, you can start to focus on the negatives and forget not only the positives, but key steps you need to take to ensure the overall success. Lamenting over a missed deadline could easily cause you to miss another.

As you plan your next trade show, remember to keep in mind that planning makes for perfection. If you get everything—even down to what day the last staff member needs to work—on paper, the show will fall into place.

Trade show marketing plays a vital role in gaining an audience for your event, but are you sure you have every corner covered?

What’s Your Trade Show Marketing Campaign Missing?


Trade show marketing plays a vital role in gaining an audience for your event, but are you sure you have every corner covered?

Marketing strategies can always use a little bit of tweaking to improve, and here are a few tips that might help you do so.

1. Enter the digital age
First thing you'll want to do with your marketing strategy is pivot to a digital presence—embrace the internet. Every marketer should have multiple means of spreading information:

  • Blog
  • Social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat)
  • Newsletters
  • Mobile apps (Periscope, event apps)

These four mediums are vital for passing along information, generating interest in your event and cultivating a following. Every marketing campaign should be focused on promoting brand awareness, and digital content is an excellent and affordable way to improve it. Take a look at this tweet from the 2016 NACDS Total Store Expo:

There are a couple of factors working for the show organizer right now with this shared photo:

  • Influential people sharing photos and information about your event.
  • Attendees shown in the photo.
  • A glimpse into what the trade expo will look like.
  • Trending hashtag.
  • Brand recognition.

All of these work in harmony to create a culture for your trade show—but it couldn't have happened if you were still sending out flyers and printed newsletters.

2. Don't make people search for your content
As a rule of thumb, don't expect people to search past the first page for your information. This is why search engine optimization is so important for marketing your trade show. Prospective attendees won't find your content—it should find them.

Event Manager Blog reported that some simple tips for improving SEO off the bat are to make better use of your headers and anchor text. Since search engines run on algorithms, your content's headers or subtitles should be using the <"h1"> code. Bolding the text or making it a larger font size won't do anything to help your search rankings.

Anchor text is a section of the blog that is hyperlinked to a URL. In the past, many companies would go with the cliché, "Contact us here," and link to their contact page. This is outdated—search engines want something original. For example, the next time you're writing an article about how to efficiently tackle complex trade show installations, try linking to the substance of the solution.

These practices should translate to your social media, as well. Hashtags should be something related to your event, easy to remember and simple enough to understand that anyone could figure out what it's referring to. According to Event Farm, nearly half of all marketers have a difficult time using social media effectively. While part of that is just a learning curve, the other part can be largely attributed to navigating it. Spend time on social media understanding what keywords will drive traffic to your Twitter or Facebook page.

Social media is key to a successful digital marketing campaign.Social media is key to a successful digital marketing campaign.

3. Live interaction
Once you have a well-oiled digital marketing campaign on your hands, it's time to put it to work. Research conducted by Wayin found 58 percent of marketers leverage their social media following to drum up traffic during events associated with their target campaign.

If your event isn't the top destination for professionals in its field quite yet, consider piggy-backing off one that is. You won't gain anything by not acknowledging the other trade show's existence, but you stand to pull followers in your direction if you do.

Your social media presence should try and take an authoritative view on everything in the industry. Consequently, sending out a tweet about another big event going on—and using that hashtag—will show new and old followers your commitment to providing them useful information.

This tactic can be extended to your own turf. Live tweet with or post pictures on Facebook during an event of attendees enjoying the experience. This will help you generate comments and likes, gain exposure on the social media landscape and show that your expo is more than just another trade show.

Implementing all of these tactics will drive up your following in no time, and contribute to the brand reputation. Results are best viewed through a long-term lens, so remember that just because you don't have 1,000 followers now, doesn't mean you won't the next time your trade show comes around.

In some respect, trade show organizers have a similar role to salespeople. A successful pitch is required for any event to take off in popularity, and time needs to be spent crafting one.

Selling the Importance of Your Trade Show


In some respect, trade show organizers have a similar role to salespeople. A successful pitch is required for any event to take off in popularity, and time needs to be spent crafting one.

Here are a couple of ways you can pitch your next event as "the" destination to show off products and find a new audience.

Face-to-face still matters
With so many topics focused around technology, it's easy to forget the physical aspects of selling and pitching are still necessary. Many companies will shudder at the cost to exhibit at a trade show, but they're wrong in thinking their new and shiny digital marketing campaign can bring in the same amount of qualified leads.

Amazon recently came to an understanding on this and decided to build its first brick-and-mortar store. It did this to give a face to the company, cover multiple corporate objectives in the sales funnel and provide tangible structure to the company's marketing strategy. Though this is business-to-consumer selling, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research believes the same principles can apply to business-to-business trade shows.

The CEIR believes there are a number of important aspects putting a face to a corporate entity provides:

  • Builds brand awareness.
  • Creates and maintains relationships.
  • Provides structure to product selection, purchase and repurchase.

While marketing campaigns can drive incredible amounts of awareness, it can't always forge a brand connection.

Face-to-face meetings are vital for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business.Face-to-face meetings are vital for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business.

Making the sale
There are a number of statistics available that support this idea that trade shows offer unique value that digital marketing just can't cover. CT Business Travel reported that 95 percent of professionals believe face-to-face meetings are still vital to a healthy business relationship. Another 87 percent assert that face-to-face dealings are crucial in sealing big deals. Millennials are backing these findings as well, with CT Business Travel reporting 80 percent of them agree that face-to-face is still vital professionally.

After establishing with an exhibitor the importance of meeting attendees on the trade show floor rather than email, it's also crucial that you help them understand the two strategies are co-dependent. Digital marketing drives physical marketing, and ROI will be difficult to judge if you have one without the other.

All that's left is to establish how combining the two can effectively clear the cost of the booth, flying a sales staff out to the trade show and all the expenses associated. A Technology Sales Resource Interactive whitepaper reported a few key ROI statistics that show just how valuable cross-channel marketing can be.

"Attending a trade show influenced 72 percent of customers into buying a product."

For starters, out of all the trade shows TSRI evaluated, one out of every four attendees signed a purchase order and three-quarters at least asked for a quote. These face-to-face interactions necessitate an urge on the buyers part due to a relationship forming from the get-go.

Another startling statistic found during the research is that it cost companies on average 22 percent less to contact a potential customer through a trade show, rather than via the phone. This is essential for businesses that rely on repeat buyers, as they can schedule meetings with them in advance and effectively slot up all of the booth's allotted time.

Lastly, 72 percent of attendees told researchers that visiting the seller's booth at the trade show influenced their decision to purchase. If anything should help drive an argument for exhibitors to have a physical representation of their company at your event, that statistic could be it.

Winning businesses over can be a difficult task but when armed with the right numbers and information, it becomes manageable. Boost the exhibitor count at your next trade show by demonstrating the still-relevant need for face-to-face interactions between companies and consumers.

Dispel the notion UX is used for computer science for the moment - in this case, it's going to be used to create the perfect event.

How User Experience Can Define Your Event

We're entering an age where statistics and strategy play a large part in how events are organized. In the past, it may have been about showing off a product and conversing with clientele. Now, experiential event planning and other wild forms and methods are taking center stage and defining whether an event or exhibition is, to put it simply, good or bad.

The phrase user experience (UX) exists in computer science to help programmers create and refine what it is about an application or website that draws readers to it. This serves as fodder for future endeavors, which can draw from the experiences and knowledge already gained.

Applications and events have something in common – they draw users' interest and hope to keep them entertained, or provide them with something useful. Dispel the notion UX is used for computer science for the moment – in this case, it's going to be used to create the perfect event.

The pillars of UX
Peter Morville, president of Semantic Studios, created the User Experience Honeycomb. It features 'value' at the middle – what each event is trying to create for the attendee – surrounded by six other variables, all of which contribute to what humans define as valuable.

This is the year to start revolutionizing the way you plan events.This is the year to start revolutionizing the way you plan events.

To have a truly valuable application (or in this case, an event), Morville argued that content must provide users (attendees) with as many of these six fundamentals as possible:

  • Useful: Can something be obtained from your event that attendees can't get anywhere else?
  • Usable: Is the information/product/content provided at the event usable/relevant to your target audience?
  • Desirable: How prevalent and enviable is your brand?
  • Findable: Will attendees need to constantly be looking at a sitemap to find certain booths and areas or will they easily be able to stumble upon it?
  • Accessible: Is it easy or difficult to register and get to your event? Is it a hassle for the attendee to go? Is the entire event accessible to people with disabilities?
  • Credible: How much weight does your event, or company name, carry, and how does that play into the theme or concept of it?

By defining these characteristics early on in the planning process, your event will provide ultimate value to attendees.

Implementing UX
UX isn't the easiest concept to master – it takes years of experience, cultivating past trials and errors into a formidable knowledge that can be deployed flawlessly whenever needed. You'll want to begin by including bits and pieces little by little into every event, with the end goal of becoming so familiar with the practice it becomes second nature.

Many of these fundamentals are overlapping, as value has a pretty finite definition. Take credibility and desirability, for instance. These can both be implemented best through marketing campaigns. Begin by defining your brand – what makes this event different from the rest? What type of information will be displayed that can't be gained at any other industry exhibition? Similarly, this will help users decide whether it's worth it to attend, because worth and value are so intertwined.

"Find your target audience and you'll understand what really makes your event useful."

Usefulness is perhaps the most difficult, yet most necessary fundamental to cover. There are two routes you can take as an organizer to cover it – marketing, and event content. Cvent recommends catering messages to industry professionals, rather than mass emailing the same, rote message over and over. Attendees want to feel as though the planner is connecting with them, not trying to gain as many registrations as possible.

When it comes to being on the floor, make sure everything you promised in your marketing campaign is easily accessible and findable – another part of the equation that overlaps. Quite simply, you want everyone in attendance to be able to visit all areas of the event, so give walking paths enough of a cushion from neighboring booths. Make sure there are signs either hanging from rafters or posted along high-traffic areas to help attendees easily identify where it is they want to go, and how to get there. This way, a person at the event may find the most valuable experience to be something they never knew was going to be there.

Cvent recommends ensuring registration is easy, so there isn't any barrier to attend. People don't want to spend more than a few minutes filling out event information – if it isn't vital, don't ask for it on the form. Also, hiring a guest speaker – or having a professional from your company lecture – could provide an avenue toward gaining credibility and usefulness.

Usability is a tricky pillar to tackle because of how naturally intertwined it is with the event. Attendees will likely be representatives of their companies from the industry the exhibition is focused around, which is a sign they find it usable to begin with. You can further draw out this pillar by fostering a strong socializing culture. For example, consider creating an event app that makes it easier for users to find other people from their industry. This will in turn help drive lead sharing and forge professional connections.

Another option to implement usability is to simply manufacture time in the schedule for networking. Put aside an hour and get everyone in one room for the sole purpose of sharing information and gaining leads. There's a lot to take part in at events and some people can forget to meet other professionals in the midst of all the excitement. By ensuring there's a time to do so, you can guarantee attendees will come away with usable data and knowledge.

Each part of your event will ultimately define why attendees see it as valuable. It seems like such a simple concept, but if you're not consciously thinking about it, you most likely will miss the mark. Make sure everything you do is based around providing the best user experience possible, and pick and choose from past failures and successes as you move forward in your event planning career.