So, why do attendees come to trade shows anyway?

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research recently published a study titled “What Attendees Want From Exhibitions.” It gives some interesting insight into why attendees plunk down their registration money – and what they expect to get in return.

The researchers asked its survey responders to give their top reasons for attending a show. While “shopping” was cited by 69% of surveyed attendees, “learning” followed a close second at 66%. Among shopping needs, “seeing new technology” was the most important reason given, while “industry trend insight” was given as the top learning need.

Other top reasons given among the shopper crowd: The ability to talk to experts; interaction with new products; having questions answered immediately; and brand comparison. On the learning side, they also wanted to develop their professional network and improve their job performance.

While IMTS 2014 might still seem like a long way off, this is a good time for exhibitors to begin asking themselves if their booth offerings are meeting these needs. Are you offering any kind of learning opportunity? What kind of ideas are your booth visitors going to take away with them? Are your booth presentations offering dynamic content that’s more than a product pitch?

One area of focus within the report is the people they label “scouts,” or someone that an organization sends out to gather information to bring back to others. Since this one person could ultimately be your “brand reputation” at their respective organization, it’s important to identify these people … and leave a good impression.

Remember, trade shows aren’t just a supermarket anymore … they’re growing into a mix of shopping mall, classroom, town square, and coffee shop. Evaluate your booth plans to see how well they fit into that mix.

AMT's Team Disney tested their training, strength, stamina and will power

As many of you know, at the end of January, AMT’s Team Disney was in Orlando to test their training, strength, stamina and will power as they attempted to complete the 26.2 mile Disney World Marathon. Ten members of AMT's staff participated in the challenge, most of whom never really had much running experience previously, but all focused on a common goal … to finish a marathon. They trained for more than 6 months, spent hours on the trails and roads logging the required mileage to ensure their success and swapped stories of tough runs, new gear, minor injuries and how amazed they were at their own progress and increasing fitness and endurance.
All 10 achieved the goal of finishing the course in the required time!  While the finishing times, of course, varied (especially on what turned out to be a VERY hot day for a marathon), the final result was the same for each runner … knowing they had worked hard with a specific purpose in mind, overcame many challenges, and achieved the goal they had set out to accomplish!
The reality is that this process is not much different if you are launching a new event, designing a new building, creating a new product, or running a marathon … a focused goal, clear objectives, structured planning, pushing through adversity, leveraging colleagues for support and guidance and the satisfaction of seeing your efforts pay off!

Watch the video about the AMT Marathon Challenge.

Shutting Off the Brain & Taking the Next Step

Flashback to the morning of January 2nd, 2013, and the holiday break has come to an end. As I wake up hours before my alarm is set to go off, my mind floods with anxiety regarding an upcoming marathon I am slated to run. “Can I really do this? No. Am I fooling myself? Definitely. 26.2 miles is a long way will my body hold up? Hmm...probably not.”
Agreeing to sign up for the Disney marathon last summer at the behest of our ultra-athlete, runs 8 hours for fun, assocation president, seemed like a great idea. There would be months to train and prepare, and having a long-term goal would provide motivation and keep me focused, especially through the winter. As the later half of the year progressed, my mileage increased, and bi-weekly maintenance runs were completed. Up until a couple of weeks ago, the prospect of rapidly propelling myself across the finish line in an upright position after 26.2 miles seemed a bright and shiny possibility.
Then the holidays hit me like a Mack truck, or rather Santa’s sleigh! Oh the eating, drinking, and lounging around. For most people, myself included, holiday break is usually a great time to reunite with family and friends, and rekindle the inner flame after a long year of hard work. For the first-time marathon runner with a race in mid-January, however, maintaining good form through winter break is akin to eating a light salad at a Texas steakhouse, it ain’t gonna happen.
Despite my best efforts to limit consumption of Christmas confections, abstain from overflowing cups of holiday cheer, and ignore the beckoning love seat/3-hour football snooze fest combos in front of my soon-to-be father in-law's 55" LED, I am but only a man. Down went the peanut butter blossoms, down went the double-chocolate, oatmeal, coffee stouts, down went my once chiseled runners physique onto a cushy sofa, and out went my waistline. So much for willpower.
Lying awake in bed I think to myself, "All hope is lost. This isn’t the way I had planned it. I am throwing in the towel." Teetering on the edge of giving up, with discouragement threatening to derail 6 months of hard work, I take a deep breath and steady my thoughts. Realizing my only shot at inner peace is to run the marathon, I take a hard look in the mirror, recommit to my training routine, and make plans to get my diet back on track. I know it's time to sink my toes into the sand, plot a different mental course, and finish what I've started.
As I type this blog with my first marathon approaching this weekend, I am a little nervous, but feeling much better about my prospects. The inner voice of doubt still creeps into my head occasionally, but honestly what’s the worst that could happen? Goofy giving me mouth-to-mouth. And what’s the best that could happen? Immortal glory. Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I'll take my chances.
I hadn't made any formal resolutions for 2013, but as the New Year begins I realize I need to focus on doing more, and analyzing less. There are some things, like a marathon, that simply can’t be thought through. They can only be run, step-by-step, for better or for worse. Life/training doesn’t always go exactly as planned, but as long as the will is solid, there is nothing but success to be had. Preparation and training is all fine and good, but if the final task is never attempted out of fear of failure, what’s the point? There comes a time when shutting off the brain and going for it is all there is left to do. Time for me to hit the road! Wish me luck!
Check back next month for a post-race summary.


Santa's Sleigh, Courtesy of Lockheed

Via the Washington Post - "Lockheed and Marines turn military jet into Santa's Sleigh"

The sleigh, a C-130 cargo plane, was bringing $50,000 worth of toys to be delivered to the families affected by Hurricane Sandy, an estimated 10,000 children are part of the overall operation.

“Many companies can make in-kind donations like computers or toys,” said Emily Simone, director of Lockheed’s global community outreach. “We can’t donate a jet or cargo plane. So the partnership with Blue Angels is perfect.”

 So while some of these kids are hoping for games or a bike under the Christmas tree - Lockheed an other high-tech companies are hoping Santa fills their stockings with engineers. Lockheed, Siemens and Raytheon invest in youth programs that focus on math, science and technology because they depend so heavily on engineers for their programs.  Lockheed spends 20 percent of its annual $25 million philanthropy budget on community projects, 30 percent on supporting the military and 50 percent on STEM education.





Money Can't Buy Creativity

Daniel Goleman, Co-Director of Consotrium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, had a great LinkedIn post on the reasons why monetary incentives just don't work for encouraging employee creativity. Bottom line, as Goleman says: "The primary motivation for people to do their most creative work is intrinsic. It's passion!"

So, if you're offering a cash reward for your staff to come up with the most creative idea, you might want to reconsider. What can you do instead? Focus on creating a positive work environment that helps employees feel motivated and energized.

This can take on many different aspects, but helping employees feel valued goes a long way. Do employees feel like their contributions matter? Do they feel like they are treated well?

Business culture is an intangible quality that can be hard to defineand even harder to improve, but as 2012 draws to a close, it can't hurt to take a look at the environment within your company walls, consider what you'd like it to be, and thinking of the ways to get it there.

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