Reflections from Exhibitor Live

Anna Barrick

20 March 2019

What could be better than a trade show for trade show people? Well, I’ll tell you..nothing!

exhibitor photo-1

Every year, EXHIBITORLive takes place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, THE destination for all things trade show. Trade show and event industry peeps come from all over the country to network, take classes, participate in the Certified Trade Show Marketer program, and attend a variety of different events, all while having the opportunity to peruse vendors of the trade show world and review portfolios from agencies, social media companies, furniture/portable rental companies, AV/Lighting/SpecialFX companies, flooring, rigging, labor, and beyond. It’s literally a “trade show shopping mall”.

The uber-interactive event includes three full days of trade show exhibition, four days of class offerings, and five days of other related industry events. There is truly something for everyone.

This year, the STAR team was in full-force, focused on different areas of interest. My mission? To soak up as much industry knowledge as possible. As my colleague, Erin Hermanson, completed her CTSM at this year’s event, I was just beginning my course work with a jam-packed class agenda.

Our CEO, VP of Creative, and Creative Director attended to connect with our broad network and continue to be inspired by stories coming from outside our own walls. Throughout the week it was really fun to see our VP of Creative, Justin Dworak, connect with so many current and past college students that he’s influenced over the years. His teaching and volunteer activities with the trade show design courses have impacted many careers. We ran into several past students who were actually exhibiting on the show floor. Congrats to Justin for his mentorship! We are proud of him as he leads our stellar design team.

In addition, we networked with partners, had conversations with potential new partners and clients, and socialized with others of “our species”. A pinnacle event for me was Dinner with Strangers. This networking activity groups people together for dinner and conversation. As a participant, all you have to do is sign up for a specific restaurant location that the organizers have pre-selected. Then show up ready to turn strangers into new friends and peers. It’s truly an experience that breaks down barriers and builds new opportunities. We bonded over dinner and are now poised to keep in touch, strangers no more.

Also, as a “first-timer” at ExhibitorLive, I was invited to a special event for, you guessed it, first-timers. When we checked-in to the event we were asked to either pick a key or a lock from a tray. Hmmm, this could be interesting! After making my selection, I then spent the rest of the time hob-nobbing with other attendees in an effort to find the key to my lock or vice/versa. This was yet another new experience for me and, wow, did I meet a lot of people! Just like Dinner with Strangers, these strangers are now friends, colleagues, and peers.  

I returned home to Minneapolis filled with new knowledge and inspiration. Now, I put it all to work for STAR’s clients and partners. It was a week well-spent and I look forward to next year. If you’ve thought about attending ExhibitorLive but just haven’t pulled the trigger, do it. I’ll see ya there in my pursuit to add the CTSM credentials behind my name.

Anna Barrick
Project Manager

Anna Barrick


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