According to exhibitors and attendees alike, the 2009 Motivation Show, held from September 29-October 1 in Chicago’s McCormick Place, exceeded expectations. One of the most pleased was Mike Landry, Director of Special Markets for TUMI, a long-time exhibitor at the show.
“A boatload of customers showed up!” Landry says. “With booked exhibit space off by 33%, I think we were all mentally prepared for tumbleweeds and the sound of crickets in the aisles. Instead, we had aisles jammed with resellers and end-users. Resellers were coming in with actual hard projects with actual hard delivery dates and price points and demanding specs and pricing and images. We got run ragged for the first day and a half, with barely time to catch our breath.”
One reason for this sense of energy on the exhibit floor was that registration didn’t drop significantly from 2008, and those who attended were there with plans to buy. Peter Erickson, Managing Director of The Motivation Show, says a preliminary look at attendee data suggests that a high percentage of attendees held decision-making responsibility in their organizations, so that even if buyer companies sent fewer people this year, key decision-makers were still in attendance.
“Our attendee registration totaled 9,131, compared with 10,467 in 2008,” says Erickson. “While this represents a 13% percent decline, we were very pleased with that total in view of the current economic climate. Most trade shows have been down significantly more this year. Our final attendance audit from Exhibit Surveys is underway and should be posted on our website in early November.”
Megan Montefusco, Marketing Specialist for Rymax Marketing Services, agreed with most exhibitors that the show was a success this year. “This was a good show with steady traffic,” she says. “We met with good people who can make decisions. The benefit of being there is the brand exposure. We’ve been exhibiting for a long time and we’re always happy with the end result.”
Erickson’s and Montefusco’s comments about serious buyers were echoed by exhibitor Jennifer Anderson, Gift Card Marketing Coordinator for Kohl’s. “We had great traffic at our booth and [were] very busy,” she says. “Exhibiting at this show is a great tool for networking with current and potential clients. It helps us keep our brand in front of a very important audience.”
In spite of the reduced size of the exhibit hall, most attendees were impressed by the wide variety of incentive merchandise, destinations and meeting services offered by the more than 1,000 companies represented on the exhibit floor.
“This is the best place to find innovative ideas,” noted Augie Leopold of Augie Leopold Advertising Specialties in Metairie, LA. “Coming here saves a lot of time – everything and everybody is under one roof.”
“The Motivation Show offers one-stop shopping,” agreed Marilyn Wax, Travel Consultant for Frosch in Chicago. “For example, you can see a technology manufacturer’s entire line. Plus, you can see samples in person. It’s a great resource for travel and innovative products. I’ve been coming here for five years, and I keep coming back to the show because international and domestic travel are all in one place. It’s easy to see what’s new and get a lot of valuable information from a variety of sources.”
Sam DiLiberto, President of Premiere Response in New Providence, NJ, is also a returning attendee. “I’ve come to the show for about seven years,” he says. “It’s very helpful to see the items and meet the vendors in person – you often get better prices and service.”
The Show kicked off at 8:30 on Tuesday, September 29, with a Keynote address delivered by Jennifer Rosenzweig and Michelle Smith of the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement entitled “Finding Hidden Gold in Your Organization: Riding Out the Recession by Mining the Hidden Gold of Your People.” Their presentation took a strategic-level view of the Forum’s Enrichment Leadership Model and what it calls the “human value connection.”
In another of the more than 70 keynotes, seminars and workshops at this year’s show, Robert Passikoff, President of Brand Keys Inc., offered his thoughts on “Ten Loyalty and Engagement Trends for 2010.” Among the trends he talked about were the fact that customer expectations will continue to grow, even though few companies and brands are keeping up with those expectations. In other words, he said, “The old tricks won’t work.” Traditional advertising techniques aimed primarily at generating awareness just won’t hold consumer interest, as evidenced by brands such as General Motors. Passikoff counseled that advertisers need to look for more creative and innovative connections with customers.
Jonathan T. Howe of Howe & Hutton Ltd., the legal counsel for Meeting Professionals International (MPI), looked at meeting and incentive travel strategies in his presentation, “Fasten Your Seat Belts – It’s a Bumpy Ride: How to Survive So You Can Thrive.” Specifically, Howe examined the political and economic factors impacting the meeting and travel industry, suggesting that companies communicate more about meeting and travel goals, be more realistic about meeting budgets and make their meetings more relevant in order to meet the current challenge.
The increasing popularity of the conference program, combined with a desire to improve exhibit efficiency and ROI, has necessitated a major change in the schedule for the 2010 Motivation Show.
“The 2010 schedule will include a dedicated ‘Education Day’ from 9 am until 5 pm on Tuesday, October 12, followed by two full days of exhibits on Wednesday, October 13 and Thursday, October 14, also from 9 am to 5 pm,” says Nancy Petitti, Show Director for The Motivation Show.
“The Tuesday Education Day will allow us to expand our highly successful Engineering Engagement Conference to include more sessions that don’t conflict with exhibit hours, while still providing 16 exhibit hours on Wednesday and Thursday. The two-day exhibit schedule will significantly reduce exhibiting costs by providing for lower travel, labor and drayage expenses.”
For more information about the 2010 Motivation Show, please visit the show website at www.motivationshow.com