Look Who's Talking - Special Edition Recap

Kitty Hart

28 February 2019

Amanda & Sue-1


Look Who’s Talking kicked off 2019 with a special industry edition focused on Trade Show marketing. While trade show exhibit work is only one offering within STAR’s experiential marketing expertise, we recognized the importance of our speakers’ topic to the broad marketing industry. For that reason, we want to ensure the education is shared far and wide, making Look Who’s Talking the perfect platform.

On Thursday, February 14, Sue Huff of Medtronic and Amanda Helgemoe of Nuvista presented a meaty and compelling overview of a potential course correction coming to the trade show marketing industry. Using specific data and scenarios in which trade shows in the same city and same venue were executed with radically different service fee structures, our audience of curious marketers began to see the light. Well, more specifically, the spotlight on a troubling situation.  

What’s the skinny?

If you’re in and around the trade show marketing industry, you’ve probably felt an increasing budget squeeze over recent years. Management teams probe for a strong ROI related to trade show and event marketing. Exclusive service costs within these efforts rise year over year. So, what happens? In many instances, trade show marketers are forced into a less than desirable result; a shrinking presence on the show floor. Sound familiar? Instead of increasing the experience, showing more product, designing a more engaging environment, trade show marketers are forced to skinny down; leaving trade show attendees underwhelmed and unsatisfied after themselves paying large travel and registration fees. Feels like a lose-lose situation.

Well, we’re excited to report there’s a new sheriff in town and her name is Transparency.

Following 19 years of data collection, industry advocacy groups are highlighting significant need for cost justification and transparency in areas including drayage, electrical, rigging, and others. To this point, many trade show marketers have been unaware that these services are negotiable. Sue and Amanda shared that, in fact, there is great opportunity for show organizers to negotiate fair, reasonable, and justifiable rates with trade show general contractors. Armed with historic pricing documentation, negotiations around these rates are beginning to happen.

How can you help?

Sue and Amanda are speaking on this topic to be sure trade show marketers are leading the charge. In short, here’s how you can help:

  • Start the dialogue with the right people. Develop relationships with your show organizers. Show organizers have the same desire as us and that is to create a great event producing ROI for all involved.
  • If you haven’t in the past, start tracking your cost data now so you can have these pricing conversations with show organizers going forward.
  • Connect with others in the industry on this topic. Make sure this topic is shared and encourage your trade show peers to support the effort.
  • In the interest of the industry, connect with your competitors. We’re all in this experiential marketing industry together and this discussion is a great way to speak peer-to-peer across the industry.
  • Get involved with EDPA and meet people on the various advisory committees.

Change is happening.

Sue and Amanda closed the presentation with a simple and concise statement to recap what this very positive initiative is all about. They said, “We are asking for transparency. Fair, reasonable and justifiable pricing for all.”

We greatly appreciate Sue Huff and Amanda Helgemoe’s time and presentation. This movement is underway making the future bright for the trade show marketing industry. If you’re interested in hearing more about this topic, the program held at the STAR Minneapolis headquarters will be available by video soon.

Please reach out to your account team or khart@engagestar.com to request information.

Kitty Hart


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