A major problem for the AIA and Greenbuild shows is a lack of traffic in the booths of the exhibitors. There are plenty of attendees that the exhibitors would like to meet. The attendees are at these shows to learn more than they are to be sold.
The Texas Society of Architects took an interesting approach to solving this problem at their show in San Antonio. They took education not just to the show floor but into the booths of exhibitors. They held several tours led by Professors of Architecture based on the subject of “New Materials Available in the Architectural Construction Marketplace.”
Each tour stopped at five different exhibits for a brief presentation by the exhibitors to present on how they are using new materials that provide new solutions to architects. Attendees earned one LUH for each tour.
They listed a limit of 25 attendees per tour but the one I went on, had a lot more people than that, and they stayed with the whole tour. The exhibitors, I interviewed were thrilled with the program and plan to come back to the show next year.
Here is Chris Leonard from Bautex showing a large group of architects on the tour how Bautex uses a concrete and foam composite to provide a structural wall system that is energy efficient while eliminating the potential moisture problems when building with studs.
A few suggestions.
- Sound – it was hard to hear the presentations and questions. Maybe they could have lowered the show music or even had a portable microphone and sound system.
- Expand the subjects from materials to subjects like energy savings, sound control, lighting, building envelope, cladding, water saving and more.
- While most of the presenters did a good job of providing educational content, some of them couldn’t help themselves as they veered into a sales pitch. Some of them also took longer than their allotted time.
- There was not enough time for architects to leave their contact information at the end of each presentation unless they stayed behind. The show should provide the presenters with the contact info for everyone on the tour.
I have never seen a tour like this at the AIA Show or Greenbuild. Both would benefit from tours like this.
Based on the number of exhibitors in each category of products, I would contact those exhibitors and invite them to be part of a tour based on a subject like energy savings. I would not charge them to participate. I would require them to submit their talking points ahead of time to make sure they are educational and not sales oriented.
Every exhibitor can not be included, so I would treat it as something you apply for that a panel of judges then choose the tour subjects and presenters. If a subject, like advances in insulation, is selected and there are some insulation manufacturers who did not apply, I would reach out to them and invite them to be part of the tour.
The AIA and Greenbuild shows should be important shows for manufacturers, but the lack of booth traffic is making more of them question the value of exhibiting, at these shows. The fewer the exhibitors, the more it will cost attendees or the lower the quality of the show.
Another idea that worked was limiting the show times and having a portion of those times when there were no educational classes or other tours to funnel more traffic to the show floor.
I hope the AIA and Greenbuild Shows will consider tours like this as a way to make the show more valuable to both attendees and exhibitors.