Show Organizers are ‘Facilitators of Dialogs’ Between Buyers and Sellers, Says Keynote Speaker at ECEF

LISA GOELL SINICKI, SENIOR EDITOR
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Washington, DC – Sharing successful strategies was the agenda as 102 show organizers and 22 press and sponsors met May 27 in Washington, DC for the third annual Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ECEF). Produced by Michael Hough and Sam Lippman, ECEF provides a platform for association and for-profit trade show executives to discuss challenges facing the industry.

A shift in organizers’ perspectives was reflected by the keynote address “Changing the Status Quo” presented by Robert Priest-Heck, CEO, MediaLive International, and Charles Yuska, Chairman of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), and President, Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI). Both Priest-Heck and Yuska stressed the importance of creating programs and policies that ensure the quality of exhibitors’ experiences and their successes.

“We’ve transitioned to looking at ourselves as facilitators of active dialogs between buyers and sellers,” said Priest-Heck who advocated the development of customized programs to meet the needs of specific exhibitors.

Yuska shared the strategy behind Pack Expo Services, the company his association founded to act as general contractor at Pack Expo. His message was: it is important to control exhibitor costs and to minimize the “hassle factor” of participating in shows. “If companies can find an easier way to generate sales, then they will,” he warned.

Throughout the day, open mike forums enabled attendees to share information on topics such as selling sponsorships to non-exhibiting companies, dealing with non-exhibiting supplier-attendees and the ideal timing to start the next cycle of exhibitor space reservations. An audience response system enabled attendees to answer questions about their shows, then view the results in real-time through charts and graphs.

ECEF 2005 will be held on May 19 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

Reach Michael Hough at (860) 677-5568 or mhough@ntplx.net; Sam Lippman at (703) 979-4904 or slippman@comcast.net. Or visit www.eceforum.com.