Trade shows – and everything you were afraid to say about them…

The barfly, The blagger, The stuff it in her bagger

 The blogger, The nodder, The flush it down the bogger

 The nagger, The swagger, The finger wagger

 The waster, The racer, The more than two facer

 The shirker, The worker, The business converter

 We all love a trade show.

Having spent a couple of days at Imex this week, I was delighted to see that most of the players at this excellent industry event are, on the whole, playing fair and well. But I’m ashamed to say, there are still a few who generate a lot of cost, a lot of fuss, and very little revenue…

My blatant rip off of a recent McDonald’s ad, above, names and shames a few of the worst culprits. Do you know any of them? Or worse still, are you one of them?

The barfly: his first job of the day is to check out which stands serve alcohol, are close to the loos, have comfy seating, good wi-fi, but don’t have CCTV or too many hungry-looking account managers who might pester him with business reviews.

The blagger: always has a really big enquiry, totally right for your destination. In truth, it’s where he fancies his next holiday, or where he’d like to have his wedding ceremony.

The finger wagger: things she may say whilst she waggles her finger at you… “You really shouldn’t be charging for wi-fi, your central res desk is no good, the arrival experience at your hotel is poor, my coffee was cold this morning, I had to queue for 3 minutes at check-in, my driver didn’t know my name, my badge doesn’t have my full title….”

The blogger: watch out for him, he is tweeting, posting and gossiping. He will say nice things if he likes you, and bad things if you neglect him. He’s a good friend to have on your side. You can spot him, because he is tapping on his phone as he walks, and he never engages with anyone. Take his picture and post it on your website, then tweet it, and you have a friend for life.

The nodder: a waste of time. He looks like he’s listening, but really he’s working out how many Airmiles he got for this trip, and wondering where to go for happy hour.

The flush it down the bogger: a bit like the nodder. This guy will take all your brochures, your CD, your USB pen, and your business card, but nothing will make it past the recycling point.

The nagger: She’s just had an event go bad. Probably her fault. But she’s looking for someone to blame, and it’s about to be you. She’s easy to spot, as she will make a beeline for you. She will be dragging a small wheelie case, walking like she’s the Queen with a Corgi, and she’ll be pointing. She may even have a pen stuck in her hairdo, and glasses on a chain around her neck.

The swagger: he’s been everywhere the world. And he thinks he’s the biggest agent at the show. If you don’t know his name, you shouldn’t be in business. Truth is, he was big one day, but that’s before we went decimal. Now he’s usually on the golf course, or at trade shows. Nothing he says will be true, so switch off, and think about where you will go for happy hour, once you’ve gotten rid of him.

The stuff it in her bagger: shows up for all the free stuff. He can always be spotted by the size and weight of his conference bag. He keeps changing shoulders, as it’s so heavy… It’s filled to the brim with chocolates, local cheeses, USB sticks, flags, squeaky stress balls, post-it pads and pens.

The waster: see blagger.

The racer: checks in for her return flight, just as she lands. She is here for the party, and that’s all. She’s easy to spot, as all she talks about is which party she’s going to and what she’ll be wearing. She’ll also be troweled in make-up as thick as blackout curtains.

The more than two facer: he’s a dangerous one this one. He’ll tell you how much he want to move business to your venue, but only if you can improve your offer or your service. He’ll tell you how awful your competitors are, and how he’d love to move business away from them. He’s told the same story many times… Beware this delegate. Just nod and smile…

The shirker: He barely knows why he’s here. In fact he might not even know where he is. He’s pointless and lazy, and has no business at all. He’s easy to spot, as he’ll look a little scruffy and won’t ever be carrying anything except business cards.

The worker: She has come to work, and she has real business to place. She is easy to spot, she will have a briefcase or at least a folder or a pad. It will have real live enquiries in it. If you see this person, sit her down and treat her well. She has come to work, and she has real business to place.

The business converter: She is not so easy to spot. She is the business influencer rather than an actual booker. A business owner or a senior manager. She will arrive at her appointments on time, she will listen to you, and then she will tell you about her business. She speaks the truth. Make a good impression here, and watch her business move to your venues. 

We all love a trade show, but we don’t love everyone who goes to them.

Exhibitors invest thousands of pounds in these events, and the least we humble agents can do is play along.

Be a good delegate.

  • Rakesh Joomuck

    Hilarious and very nicely written and so true.

  • Lex Butler

    Very funny and I know at least one of each :0)

  • Da_vinci2

    very enjoyable read.

  • Stephen Morton-Prior

    Brilliant!!!!! spot on and very true! You have gotta love our industry!

  • John Kelly

    I could put at least 3 names of real people against all of these, oh the temptation…