Expo! Expo! is called the “show for shows” for a reason! With more than 280 exhibitors across 60+ product categories, Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition provides attendees with a diverse marketplace to view and assess the tools needed to plan and manage successful trade shows and events for years to come. IAEE sat down with Chris Pendley, E-Media Manager at Messe Frankfurt North America, who shares that Expo! Expo! is the best place to see all the latest event technology offerings.
Tell us a little about yourself. What are your current responsibilities?
I guess to start, I have been with Messe Frankfurt for almost nine years. My background is in computer science. So, I originally came in to help with getting their programming up to speed, with things like the websites and newsletters. Through the years, a new department was developed, which solely focuses on the digital strategy of the business, such as social media, mobile apps, websites and marketing campaigns. It started out with just me and now we have a full team whose primary focus is dedicated to the digital side of our business.
It’s our job to demo new digital platforms and see if it would be a good fit for the company. Within this role I am able to utilize multiple skill sets. I get to utilize my computer science background with the coding and programming and also utilize the business applications component as well. Through the support from our management team and from our colleagues in Germany, we’ve been able to build this department from the ground up.
Why do you attend Expo! Expo!?
Being on the digital side of the business, Expo! Expo! has the largest space for me to see all of the newest technology. That’s my number one reason. I go and demo the new technologies that have come out or are about to come out. In my opinion, Expo! Expo! is the best place to find all the latest event technology in one place.
I attend to see if there are any new platforms or new technology that the organization needs to implement in order to make our current processes more efficient or if there are any platforms that could possibly define completely new processes.
I also like that Expo! Expo! is towards the end of the year. You leave with lots of great takeaways that you can bring back to your organization enabling you to plan out what the team will be working on for the next year to create a better show experience for our clients.
How do show organizers like yourself benefit from attending Expo! Expo!?
From my perspective, I benefit from testing the latest technology offerings. I meet with current vendors and those who may have released a new product/service that could be beneficial to the organization. The trade show floor is a great place to see what all is out there in the tech space.
For the digital business department, we have sent many people to Expo! Expo! and a big reason for that is the education. When I send my team out and they attend the education sessions, we regroup and share notes on the newest and latest trends of the industry. The education sessions are presented by industry peers who share their successes and failures with the attendees. That itself is valuable in recalibrating and changing our strategy, if necessary.
Of course, the networking at Expo! Expo! is great. It seems very rare for anyone to understand exactly what we do as show organizers, that is unless you’re in the industry. I didn’t know much about tradeshows before starting with Messe Frankfurt. Coming from a digital background, we’re not taught about trade shows and how this industry in some way supports every single industry in the world. Through trade shows, we’re bringing all these industries together. To be able to be around like-minded people who understand this for a few days is very beneficial.
What education sessions caught your attention at Expo! Expo! in the past? Did you have any takeaways from those sessions?
There was an RFP (request for proposal) session that I attended a few years ago. Again, coming from a digital side, I usually just see the tech side of things. I didn’t know too much about collecting proposals and bids. That wasn’t something that was in my formal education so that session opened my eyes. I was doing a lot of work going out and finding vendors, demoing their products, collecting pricing and then analyzing my findings. Once I attended this session, I realized there’s a better system to what I was doing.
Also, I enjoyed the First Timers session when I went to Expo! Expo! my first year. It’s especially helpful when you start in an industry that you’re not too familiar with and its various layers and complexities. I think that the First Timers session helps set your expectations on what’s going to happen during Expo! Expo! and it helps you plan out where you need to be for the show.
Were there any insights from Expo! Expo! that you implemented in your organization? If so, what were they?
When I first started with Messe Frankfurt, we didn’t have a mobile application for all of our North American shows and that was something we were trying to implement, but due to not knowing the level of demand from our clients and budgetary restraints, we were running into a few speedbumps. Through Expo! Expo! we were able to find a mobile app provider and partner, Double Dutch. With our new partner, we did a test pilot of the mobile app for one of our shows. And fortunately, it was huge success. In the first year, there was a 35% adoption rate. On top of that, we were also able to create some new revenue streams through sponsorships. After the first year, it was pretty clear that we needed to move forward with the implementation. Now, we have a mobile app for all of our shows in North America using the provider we found at Expo! Expo!.
Also, I found Feathr a couple of years back when they first debuted at Expo! Expo!. I just love their platform. It’s super intuitive and easy to use. There are so many marketing strategies that many industry marketers want and need to implement, but don’t necessarily know how to or understand how the technology works. With the Feathr platform, it’s packaged specifically for the exhibitions and events industry. The entire system is a very turn-key operation. Again, we started with a pilot campaign for one of our shows and had really successful results on it. The CPA (cost-per-acquisition) on gaining attendees was one of the lowest we had seen and the ease of use for the team was hugely beneficial and efficient. So, we moved forward with the platform and now have it implemented for every one of our shows in North America.
How do you approach your time spent at Expo! Expo!?
What I like about Expo! Expo! is the conscious effort to break up education and the show floor times. The education sessions are not scheduled during the trade show floor times, except for the quick 10-minute Pit Stop sessions. I don’t need to make the decision if I should go on the floor or go to education because I can go to both.
What I start with is going through the entire exhibitor list and highlighting my top ones. I want to make sure I meet with vendors that I’m already working with, but also meet with those who may have a tech product service that I’m interested in testing. I’ll visit their website and search through relevant information that I can bring up when I meet with them. Then, I use the mobile app to “favorite” exhibitors who I want to see on the show floor as well as the education sessions that peak my interest.
Education and the trade show floor are the two of the important things I schedule first. Any extra time after that, I’ll go to the networking events, like the Southeastern Chapter Reception.
Why is it important to be involved with one’s local chapter?
Being involved with your chapter gives you the opportunity to stay involved year-round. There’s plenty of activities to do on the local level, such as volunteering and networking at meetups. The local chapters are the best place to start for someone that’s coming into the industry or wanting to be more involved with IAEE.
Name an unforgettable moment that has happened to you at Expo! Expo!.
At the 2014 Expo! Expo!, I did the city bus tour that was included with registration. We could hop on or off the bus tour and explore Los Angeles. It was my first time in Los Angeles and it was nice to get out of the convention center and experience what all Los Angeles has to offer.
If you were talking to someone who had not attended Expo! Expo! and was considering going, what would you say to him/her?
I only have one word: Go!
From an organizer perspective, it’s so nice being on the attendee side of things for a change. We’re typically working around the clock and there’s no such thing as stopping. As the saying goes, “The show must go on.” As an attendee, you get to be spoiled for a couple of days and you get to recharge a bit.
What tip would you give to a first-time attendee that you wish someone had told you when you attended Expo! Expo! for the first time?
Attend the First Timers events. Don’t be one of those people who forgoes the First Timers activities just because you don’t want people to know you’re a first timer. The First Timers events get you acclimated to what you can expect at Expo! Expo!. It’s also a really nice welcome to the industry.
What is one event or program that attendees cannot miss at Expo! Expo! that you thoroughly enjoy?
I would definitely recommend Humanity Rocks. It’s an awesome event and it’s for a good cause so it’s a win-win for sure.
Will you be attending this year’s Expo! Expo! in New Orleans? If so, what programming are you looking forward to experiencing?
Yes, I will be attending Expo! Expo!. I’m pretty excited about the new IT education track: Science and Technology of a Show. I’m looking forward to attending a few of those sessions.
Trade show floor, education and networking…all in one place. Register to attend the “show for shows” in vibrant New Orleans this year.