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CDS defines the meaning of tradeshow partnerships


Every year, many show managers look to improve the services offered at their event. Usually responsible for negotiating and signing contracts with service providers, the show management often seeks partners that can not only provide the requested services, but also deliver increased value to the show’s participants.

As a full-service registration company, Convention Data Services (CDS) has become this partner for 240 annual tradeshows. Since 1986, CDS has gained many new clients or renewed contracts with tradeshow leaders who found they benefitted from the company’s collaborative approach to its products, services and the events it serves.

“We don’t have any one-off relationships with clients. We build relationships,” stated Dave Wuethrich, director of event services and product development, Convention Data Services.

ECN 012015_FTR_CDS defines the meaning of tradeshow partnerships_CDS staff 2014Just by taking time to stop at exhibitors’ booths to make sure they are comfortable using its X-Press Connect lead retrieval app is just one way CDS builds relationships. When CDS’ team isn’t onsite helping clients, they are usually coming up with different ways to do so.

“Event teams regularly meet and discuss issues, challenges and victories within their groups, and share their insights across all teams. For example, an idea that may help one medical association reduce the use of paper forms for registration can be used for a tradeshow trying to improve the quality of its data collection,” added Wuethrich.

Building relationships through close client collaboration and assistance is at the heart of CDS’ business model. This is often seen during focused brainstorming sessions at CDS’ annual gathering for its Client Advisory Group.

“[Client] visits, along with the annual [advisory group] event, result in practices that are implemented and shared. The event industry is hungry for best practices and ideas, and our clients recognize that CDS is their source for a wealth of ideas. We not only provide the information, but based on our experience we can also help them implement these best practices into their events. Our goal is to help show management increase value and save time,” added Becky Hansen, executive vice president of event services, Convention Data Services.

At CDS’ Massachusetts-based headquarters, many clients feel comfortable stopping by simply to offer their suggestions. They’ve learned that CDS takes them seriously and will heed their advice, especially if it benefits the overall client base.

“One idea from a client that has provided exponential benefits to other clients was to create a monthly newsletter. Our newsletter ‘The CDS Register’ shares product information, results of surveys and tips,” said Hansen.

Client suggestions have also led to the evolution and improvement of CDS’ products and services.

“One client asked us to increase our Wireless Will Call presence onsite, and reduce the number of ‘lookup and print’ stations.  The changes we made helped them print badges for 30,000 attendees onsite with almost no lines, and we have since adapted their model of onsite badge printing for other clients,” added Hansen.

The company also collaborates with show management to better serve exhibitors. Working with the client regarding the schedule, agenda and location, CDS delivers educational workshops across the U.S. and online.

“CDS staff does teach and moderate the sessions on registration, marketing tools provided through registration and lead management. Our goal is to educate the exhibitors on best practices and how they can best take advantage of these tools and services,” said Ken Ferreira, national sales application manager, Convention Data Services.

For exhibitors who can’t take a lot of time away from the office, the online workshops and webinars offer convenience and a breadth of topics.

“There are many options for online workshops which cover information for the entire life cycle of the event. Generally, the sessions are weekly 15 – 20 minute segments concentrating on one or two key topics as it relates to the event. Or they can be general 45 – 60 minute workshops covering each key area of the event,” stated Ferreira.

The educational offerings CDS provides are also how it stands out among competitors, added Ferreira, and contributes to what makes it a unique registration company.

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