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10 Great SHOT Show Tips from Veteran Exhibitors

NSSF hosted a SHOT Show Exhibitor Academy for new and seasoned SHOT Show exhibitors last June. A 2½-day event, held onsite at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, the Academy provided seminars and opportunities for attendees to make the most of their experiences and investments while at SHOT Show.

To help everyone exhibiting at SHOT Show realize their potential, but especially for those who didn’t get a chance to attend the Academy, we’ve gathered some of the highlights on the topics presented there. Here, in Part II of this three-part series, we’re highlighting insights from Cristie Gates, Michael Kinn and Michele Salerno, three panelists from the June Academy who each provide three great tips for those manning the booths in 2020.

Cristie Gates — Senior Marketing Manager, Benelli

“As a veteran exhibitor, I can tell you that if you use an exhibit house for set-up of your booth, be sure to order your services rather than have that exhibit house order them for you. This can be a savings of up to 30-percent, the exhibit house markup, for something you can do yourself — and that can be a huge saving depending on the size of your booth. For a booth the size of mine — 4,000 square feet — I can save an estimated $50,000, and that’s well worth the time spent ordering services and Benelli paying them directly.

“My second tip is to never forget to estimate your drayage. This “small” item can be a huge cost, depending on what you’re bringing into the hall. In fact, it can totally bust your budget if you don’t estimate this correctly.

“Finally, make sure your staff is prepared for the long days. Knowing to wear comfortable shoes, not new ones or heels is critical, as well as taking care of themselves. They need to know that a late night on the town does not constitute being late for the show the next day. If you have a small booth, you may not have the luxury of having a big staff to cover if you have folks missing, so you are counting on everyone, so set these ground rules with your staff before anyone gets on a plane for Vegas.”

Michael Kinn — Director, Events, Vista Outdoor

“My first piece of advice to any exhibitor would be to account for all show costs in order to generate an accurate show budget. Those budget items should include:

  • Booth space
  • Carpet
  • Electricity
  • Rigging (if applicable)
  • Forklift and/or scissor-lift fees
  • Material Handling/drayage
  • Interior and design labor
  • Hotel (be aware of room attrition)
  • Booth staff
  • Swag/giveaways
  • Catering

“After budget considerations, I’d say that educating your booth staff on how to properly work a show is of top importance. Let them know not to ‘bunch up’ and visit among themselves, for instance, because they are there to serve the attendees. They need to really know the products and stress the product benefits as well as their features. At the same time, they’ll usually want to keep technical speak to a minimum and use relatable phrasing and words. Your booth staff should be easily identifiable (via team shirts or some other method), and they need to keep enthusiasm up throughout the entire run of the show.

“My last tip would be to never underestimate the value of the outdoor press. Leverage the media members at the show by scheduling short meetings well in advance and have your “pitch” perfected and product readily available for demonstration. Pre-written press releases also help writers by packaging up product details and technical points.”

Michele Salerno — Director of Marketing, Asst. Vice President, Celerant Technology Corp. & CAM Commerce

“I’ll echo what Michael said as my top piece of advice. Plan ahead in terms of media preparation. For me that means:

  • Having pre-show announcements planned out and scheduled months in advance. We typically start in early November or even late October.
  • Having several new feature announcements and/or new partnerships/integrations that can be sent out as press releases via “The Outdoor Wire,” as well as through email marketing to prospects and customers.
  • Taking advantage of the New Product Showcase. Put a new product in with flyers and it will draw many potential buyers and media to your booth.

“Time management, as you might imagine, is critical to having a successful show. Make the most of the show while you’re there by scheduling your time wisely. That means not just bringing enough team members to staff your booth and handle the traffic, but also planning time to spend with your partners. Everyone is at the SHOT Show, and there is so much opportunity for networking. That includes scheduling media briefings prior to the show, so that you can have coverage throughout the event. We actually bring a film crew and schedule meetings with our partners to get them on camera for partner videos during the show, which we can then use as marketing tools all year long, and we also shoot B-roll footage and a SHOT Show recap video every year.

“One more thing I’d say to put at the top of your list is package and freight management. You don’t want to have to ask, “Did my packages arrive?” We do not ship anything UPS. We use a freight carrier so we know they will wait in line properly at the show site and get our packages there according to the show schedule. We also get confirmations as soon as everything arrives. As long as your packages arrive to show site, any other issue can be resolved before the show opens by leaning on show services.”

Michele had one other piece of advice for SHOT Show exhibitors.

“It’s important that you don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s inevitable that something will go wrong. No show is ever perfect, especially considering all the moving parts. Each year you’ll learn something new and what not to do next year. For instance, when you try to cut costs too much, you often end up spending more money after the fact. The good news is that if something does go wrong, it can almost always be sorted out at show site. Yes, it might just cost a bit more, but nine times out of 10 your problem can be resolved before the shows opens.”

JAN 21–24, 2020 LAS VEGAS