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Exhibitor Academy Maximizes Tradeshow Experience

By / Jul 22, 2014 Participants at the first-ever SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy. (photo courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation)

The National Shooting Sports Foundation recently hosted a learning program specifically aimed at exhibitors to help them get the most out of their tradeshow experience.

To help exhibitors have a more successful and stress-free experience at its annual tradeshow in January, the National Shooting Sports Foundation recently hosted the SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy.

It’s actionable information, and they’re going see a payoff from it immediately.

The two-and-a-half-day program, which took place June 24-26, was free for the slightly more than 100 attendees and offered educational sessions focused on increasing exhibitors’ return on investment, targeting buyers, and boosting brand awareness.

The idea came about after NSSF switched its event management vendor last year to ConvExx, which had produced a similar exhibitor experience for the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s SEMA Show.

“That sort of stuck with us,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “When you look at that kind of creative, value-added experiential exhibitor education, it helps make our customers more successful in the long run, and it also helps make for a stronger show and a stronger industry.”

Education sessions specifically covered topics such as social media, working with the media, navigating the exhibitor resource center, and developing a show budget, said Dolnack, who added that attendees also had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with SHOT Show vendors to ask specific questions.

The event was held six months prior to the actual SHOT Show in January 2015 to give exhibitors a chance to use what they learned. “It gives them the information far enough in advance so that it’s actionable,” Dolnack said. “It’s not just, ‘Oh we had a good time.’ It’s actionable information, and they’re going see a payoff from it immediately.”

NSSF was pleasantly surprised by the level of participation and response to this year’s event, and the association is already planning next year’s Exhibitor Academy.

“I think the real proof in the pudding was at the end when we did some electronic polling and 97 percent of the attendees said that they would recommend the academy to other exhibitors,” Dolnack said. “Ninety-seven percent also said the experience was worth their time. To me, if you have 97 percent of attendees who are satisfied like that and would come back, I think we did a good job.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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