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Selling spaces.

Do you want to maximize exhibit space revenues from your next trade show? A good place to start is to be brave with your next floor plan. Experience has taught me that increased revenues and participation from exhibitors can be achieved through a well-thought-out floor plan.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

We were hired to facilitate booth sales for the October 2003 exposition of the Competitive Telecommunications Association, Washington, D.C. (now CompTel/Ascent after a merger with the Association of Communications Enterprises in November 2003). With a staff of 15 and an annual operating budget of $5 million, the organization had been hit hard by the slowed economy and wanted to increase exhibit sales. We reorganized their show floor to optimize traffic flow, and being brave, we designed a new floor plan with more islands and in-line booths.

The result was a sold-out exhibit hall, the association's largest fall show in three years. On-site booth sales produced a 69 percent renewal rate, so we increased space for the 2004 show by 40 percent and sold out that show as well, totaling 119 companies in 158 booths.

Our advice: To leverage your trade show floor plan and increase revenues, focus on upgrading current exhibitors to larger spaces and maintaining control of the design.

* Publish a floor plan with a mixture of island exhibits, double booths, and single booths. You will immediately send the message that to be visible at your next show, exhibitors need to purchase bigger spaces.

* Take control of the floor plan. Maximizing sales is the job of show management not the service contractor.

In addition, your new braver floor plan should be designed based on carefully calculated sales projections. Here are some steps for projecting booths sells:

1. Examine your inventory from the previous year. How many double, triple, and island booths did you sell? Then, project how many booths you think you can sell for the next show.

2. Look at your corners. Associations have been able to get companies to pay more for a corner location for years. Take it a step farther. If exhibitors will pay more to be located on a corner, where they are more visible, usually they are willing to add a second booth to obtain that corner.

3. Publish your hooks on the floor plan. Show the locations of areas such as the cyber cafe, stage, food and beverage locations, and even restrooms. You use these hooks to move traffic throughout the floor plan. Emphasizing your hooks also has the added advantage of making exhibitors comfortable buying booths away from the front core area of the exhibit hall.

Finally, to make it all work when marketing exhibit space, publish a floor plan that's different from the past, and have confidence that exhibitors will buy more than in the past. If you are brave enough to do those things, then your exhibit sales are sure to increase.

--Tom Corcoran, president, Corcoran Expositions, Inc., Chicago; tcorks@corcexpo.com
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Title Annotation:MEETINGS
Author:Corcoran, Tom
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:493
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