2013 Event Promotes Cooperative Approach
In a continuing effort to recognize the objectives of Sponsors and Exhibitors as well as to advance the exhibit experience for attendees, Western Veterinary Conference hosted its First Annual Exhibitor Forum on June 7, 2013, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas. Professional moderator Sam Lippman began the event by asking the major question on every participant’s mind: “What would you like to accomplish today at this event?”
Through interactive discussion, those attending the Forum were able to identify a wide-ranging list of goals their companies set for one of the most relevant and costly investments they make each year – participating in WVC. As the group discussed the general desire to “listen and learn” and to “improve the entire show,” more definite points arose. All members of the group supported the value of building relationships and determining how to affect customers and better deliver products to them. Everyone present expressed willingness to leverage the opportunity provided by the Forum to come together and give and get feedback. Participants hope to see the ideas presented come to life at future conferences and agreed to work with each other to enhance interaction between Exhibitors and attendees. The Forum quickly spotlighted the group’s collaborative intent to create win-win scenarios.
Another aspect of the ongoing discussion clarified that Exhibitors benefit by approaching attendees in the ways they want to be reached and that presentations and strategies must always keep the audience in mind. By learning best practices – merging education, technology, attendance boosters, and networking – and sharing knowledge, Exhibitors are certain to get better results each year and, thus, continually improve the Conference.
During one of the day’s more entertaining exercises, participants were asked to choose the animal or vehicle they felt best represents WVC, naming the first that came to mind in either category and explaining why they selected it.
WVC “as an animal” choices included:
WVC “as a vehicle” choices included:
Forum participants came to the conclusion that successful trade shows are made up of many different parts and people, but all parts come together to create a cohesive event. They agreed that WVC achieves that.
Participants were asked to envision the closing day of WVC 2014, picturing what they would report to their companies: “if you were writing a press release about WVC 2014, what would be your lead story?” Proposed highlights flew fast as group members called out the points they would want to make, such as “great vet education,” “commitment to best practices and learning what is important and new,” “knowledge to change the future,” “unprecedented Exhibit Hall traffic,” “record attendance,” “time and money well spent”; “new stuff, new image, new diversity, new, new, new”! From that brainstorming, participants narrowed the list to the top three ideas they believe need to happen for WVC 2014 to be successful:
In reviewing these three essentials, participants were asked to discover and name any possible exhibit obstacles, which they noted as time constraints, lack of a compelling offering that creates a unique experience, limited Exhibitor-to-Exhibitor collaboration, and competing events.
Discussion also covered hurdles in achieving a 20% increase in attendee satisfaction. Topics included priorities, industry trends, “same old thing” view, lack of delivery, nonrelevance, duplication of local CE offerings, and many more. From there conversation moved to the stumbling blocks that can sabotage the “WOW” factor at a conference, including lack of time, clinging to the status quo, and the misguided belief that a conference is “good enough already.”
As talk continued, participants extracted the top factors they believe contribute positively to the three priority items, including exhibits-only time, Exhibitor cooperation to create unique joint experiences, and special displays/events, especially those marking new technology. Exhibitors want to create the feeling that, if you missed the Exhibit Hall, you really missed something special, amazing, awesome, cool, and exciting! To increase attendee satisfaction objectives must include cutting-edge, new, and relevant information; Exhibitor and attendee networking; and applicable information that can be put into practice immediately.
Participants concurred that there is a relentless need for “WOW” but no need to reinvent the Conference and Exhibit Hall completely each year. By adding new elements to the strong existing foundation, the perception remains that WVC is vital and responsive to its attendees and its appeal is genuine.
As the Forum neared its conclusion, participants considered the changes and additions they feel are most important for a successful 2014 Conference. Concerning the exhibits, these included such suggestions as longer breaks, more in-Hall guidance, must-attend and progressively compelling events, and possibly flash sales.
To raise attendee satisfaction, proposals included recognition for returning attendees, mentoring, short ”pearl” sessions, a comprehensive-WVC-experience tool kit, and further investigation of Sunday offerings. Finally, to enhance the Exhibit Hall “WOW” factor, suggestions included easier access to the exhibit area, CE segments in the Hall, daytime socials, and surprise and celebrity guests.
At the event’s end participants discovered that they had touched on each point they had listed as key at the beginning of the day and looked forward to enhancing future Conferences by working together. Ms. Manolita Moore, WVC’s Chief Operating Officer, confirmed that all of the Sponsor and Exhibitor suggestions will be reviewed and presented to the WVC Board for action and implementation.