The show floor isn’t the only place abuzz during EXHIBITORLIVE, the rebranded EXHIBITOR Show annually organized by owner Exhibitor Media Group. Filled to the brim are meeting rooms holding the attention of exhibit and event managers painstakingly noting every piece of advice from session speakers.
At the annual conference, tradeshow and corporate event marketing professionals can take part in the industry’s only university-affiliated certification program to earn their stripes as a Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM). This year, 180 sessions will be made available over five days.
Providing an opportunity for show organizers to educate exhibitors at no cost to the organizer, EXHIBITORLIVE has teamed up with the International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE) to create an affiliate program.
According to Carol Fotjik, senior vice president, Hall-Erickson, and managing director of EXHIBITORLIVE, the partnership was driven by industry growth.
“Additional exhibitor education was needed due to new people entering the industry. It becomes an essential need,” said Fotjik.
IAEE’s role to promote the program to its membership of show organizers and tradeshow and corporate event professionals helps support continuing education among industry members.
“It’s not a one-year, one-off partnership; it’s a beginning of a partnership that we hope to grow,” stated John Pavek, chief marketing officer, EXHIBITORLIVE.
The primary benefit to show organizers is business retention. Exhibitors with the tools and knowledge to generate more qualified leads at a show would be inclined to exhibit again.
“These show organizers are realizing that when they have more equipped exhibitors they’re more likely to prosper,” Pavek explained.
Event organizers are realizing their own customers can benefit from exhibitor education events as well, according to Pavek.
“When you have educated exhibitors, it makes everybody’s lives easier,” Fotjik added. “The more successful an exhibitor is at a tradeshow, the more likely they’ll return the following year. So it’s really a win-win [for show organizers and exhibitors].”
Customized registration codes and URLs and complimentary conference brochure covers are provided to participating show organizers to pass along to their customers. For exhibitors who sign up for the program, three levels of session passes are available, each at a 10 percent discount off the full registration fee.
Some taking two or more years to complete their certification, the candidates must complete 28 core curriculum sessions that equate to 42 hours of classroom study. An advanced level is also available to CTSM-certified professionals who wish to further their education.
“[Exhibitors] can learn how to save money, the ins and outs of transportation, labor issues, how to promote themselves pre-show and post-show, how to use social media, how to prepare for safety issues and how to make graphics work,” Fotjik commented.
Selecting well-rounded, experienced industry professionals as speakers, Dee Silfies, chief learning specialist, EXHIBITORLIVE, works with a conference advisory committee to determine credentials. All speakers are required to complete professional training to ensure the highest quality in education.
As another measure of quality assurance, speakers who do not receive a sufficient rating from attendants are not featured in the following year’s program.
Content for the education tracks are also evaluated and approved by the conference advisory committee selecting speakers. Covering a wide array of topics, the tracks include Measurement and Analytics; Planning and Execution; Marketing and Communications; Corporate Events; Personal and Career; Exhibits and Experiences; Global Exhibiting; Social Media; and Outsourcing. Also available are smart exhibit programs, full enhanced day workshops, field trips and Peer2Peer collaborative learning.
Among the challenges for exhibit and corporate event marketers is justifying participation and proving ROI at tradeshows. The Measurement and Analytics track is, therefore, one of the most important for industry professionals, according to Fotjik.
For those unable to attend education sessions during EXHIBITORLIVE, FastTrak and eTrak sessions are also available. Featuring the most popular and best-rated tracks from EXHIBITORLIVE, both programs, designed as extensions of the show conference program, can also accelerate the certification process.
FastTrak sessions will be held this year on June 9-11 in Atlanta, Aug. 25-27 in Chicago, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in San Diego and Nov. 10-12 in Atlanta to reach exhibit and corporate event marketers in different markets.
eTrak sessions offer interactive, collaborative webinars as well as credit toward CTSM certification and Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) through university affiliate Northern Illinois University Outreach.
IAEE also produces educational events for show organizers themselves during its annual Expo! Expo! meeting and exhibition. The 2015 edition is set for Dec. 1-3 at the Baltimore Convention Center.