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Venting About Trade Shows

Frustrations ... and answers.

by Staff Report (April 2, 2007)

(Note: The following comments were written by a manufacturer who exhibits at the CHA and Quilt Market shows. She asked to remain anonymous. CLN answered her, and sent her comments to Tony Lee, CHA's VP/Meetings & Expositions.)

Trade show promoters should do a better job of qualifying attendees. I have no problem with professional crafters, but I have seen too many consumer-lookers at both CHA and Quilt Market. I also was warned at my first show to beware of groups from the Far East who will pretend not to speak English, look at your product, and knock it off if it looks good. Manufacturers like that should be barred from the shows.

Trade show promoters should be available in case of problems. Having to chase down staff during set up or the show is not feasible. They should have special badges and be walking around or have central locations where one can go to.

Trade show promoters will make sure to instruct the staff of the facility to not hover around a booth and try to see if they can buy. They will also make sure the facility staff does its job properly and be available during tear down to deal with problems. (At the Las Vegas CHA, the facility staff broke part of my booth and we got a "pound sand" response from the facility and CHA).

Mike Hartnett's Comments.

Thanks for this, and it will remain anonymous. I will send your thoughts -- without your name -- to Tony Lee, the CHA staffer in charge of the show itself.

Some of this is a tricky issue. Yes, they should be much tougher about consumers getting in a show. As for unethical manufacturers, if they qualify, it's tough to determine that they might be there to copy exhibitors' products. (Numerous manufacturers attend the show, not to copy anyone, but to see if they should exhibit at the next show.)

I'm afraid it's not just Far East manufacturers either; that's why I wrote that code of ethics for the industry (still available in the Business-Wise section).

As for staffers being available to help with problems, they are available walking the floor and at the CHA booth. The problem is, the show is so darn big. Depending on where you are, you'd have to walk two blocks to get to the CHA booth to tell them your situation. They all carry walkie-talkies, so they can be contacted at all times. But they are so spread out over the huge show....

Plus, CHA sent a blast email to every exhibitor before the show giving the cell phone numbers of all the key staffers. Trouble is, most people didn't think to write them down and didn't have the list with them on the show floor.

As far as the facility staff, that's one reason why CHA and the Houston Quilt Market are settled in one city. (CHA is scheduled to be in Anaheim for years to come.) The Vegas facility knew we weren't coming back, so why should they care if people were unhappy? The fact that we want to return to Anaheim should make the Anaheim convention staff motivated to keep us happy.

CHA's Response.

(Note: CLN sent the vendor's note to Tony Lee, VP/Meetings & Expositions, who responded with the following:

Good response, except the buildings have nothing to do with the situation, really. It is our responsibility to control access through security we hire, and if there are any breakages damage or whatever we will investigate and respond. As you said it is tough when the Vegas show was 14 months ago and we are hearing about it now and then it is anonymous. I can do little at this point but would need to have specifics so it is doubly frustrating.

The challenge for us is to balance the comments and situations reported to us to decide if it is relevant. I have mandated to CHA staff that we do not want to hear the words "a lot of." If there is a complaint I need numbers of people and specifics if three people complain out of 20,000 we will still look into it but we have to be sure it is representative.

Anyway please pass on any that you receive and I'll be happy to respond.



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