Masters also talked about a few things he requires as an anchor exhibitor—and a few things he doesn’t want to see.

One requirement is on-demand authentication of attendees’ registration data at the time of the swipe. “I need to see the name, I need to be able to validate the address, phone number, and e-mail if they want to give it to me.” He doesn’t want to get the records after the show from the association because the information might not be updated. He also encourages organizers to have the most advanced swipe technology so data can be captured in real time.

One of Masters’ pet peeves is being asked to contract for booth space more than one year out. He’s had some show organizers come to him a month before their current year’s show and ask for a contract for the following year. “That doesn’t allow me to measure, it doesn’t allow me to change up—it causes a lot of problems internally for us.”

Another concern is housing deposits. “I don’t have a budget for those deposits, so I have to set up revolving accounts, and anyone who works with an accountant knows that accountants really hate revolving accounts.” 

The producer must allow him to use his proprietary measurement and swipe-gathering systems. “As a large anchor exhibitor, I’m not going to use the show’s preferred lead system; it’s just not going to happen,” he said. He needs organizers to help him measure the show the way he needs to measure it.

Measurement is a major challenge. For years, event professionals at companies have gone to the marketing table with little in the way of hard data while other marketers come armed with charts and graphs showing ROI. “We’ve got the largest below–the-line budget with the least amount of metrics to go with it,” said Masters. “If we can’t validate what we’re doing with metrics, we’re going to lose because there is huge pressure to move those dollars to other places to do work where it can be measured.”

Discussion Points:

  • What are your exhibitors' biggest challenges?
  • How do you work with your exhibitors to maximize their experience at your show?
  • Are exhibitors asking more of you now than they used to? Are they asking for different things than they used to?