We all know what a trade show with 67,000 attendees, 1,500 exhibitors and 2,000 members of the media typically looks like about 7 months from the show. Now picture it without a management team, contracts for its convention center facility, its partner hotels, a general service contractor as well as all others vendors it takes to put on a Gold 100 trade show and you have the 2014 SHOT Show.
To provide some background, while the National Shooting Sports Foundation owns the SHOT Show, it had been produced by Reed Exhibitions for over 30 years. Following the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, 2012, and immediately prior to the 2013 SHOT Show, Reed Exhibitions made business decisions as it relates to another event in their portfolio that ran counter to the industry the SHOT Show and NSSF represents. The shooting sports industry made a decision at that time that Reed could no longer manage our industry’s signature event and the next several months were spent dissolving the relationship.
Fast forward to May, 2013. NSSF began the process of interviewing candidates to manage and market the SHOT Show and was left with no contracts to host or produce the 2014 SHOT Show as all contracts were with Reed and not NSSF. The only contracts it had were with the exhibitors that had renewed their contracts to exhibit at the 2014 SHOT Show. NSSF spent all of four weeks conducting an RFP and interview process and a decision was made to retain ConvExx to manage the SHOT Show during the first week of June. That left half a year to produce and market the show…from scratch.
The ConvExx team traveled to NSSF’s offices toward the end of June to conduct a deep dive into the SHOT Show. Bear in mind that traditionally a show management company would have an opportunity to evaluate the show for years and visit at least one of the preceding shows in order to fully understand not only the event but the industry it serves. That was not possible here. ConvExx had to learn the show and industry at a very quick pace, all while putting the show together in a limited period of time. Not to mention that all contracts with Sands Expo Center, Freeman, onPeak, Compusystems, and others had to be negotiated. Registration had to open with just two short months to prepare as well.
Naysayers throughout the industry said it couldn’t be done; and expectations of most outsiders (and even many insiders) were aimed at just holding a show would be a win…with a nominal drop in attendance and customer satisfaction “not dropping too much”.
Just a month later, and only two months after a contract was executed with Compusystems, attendee registration opened for the 2014 SHOT Show. New qualification rules were written and new procedures were put in place to re-qualify every individual desiring to attend the SHOT Show. Customer Service for attendee registration was handled internally at ConvExx’s offices to help facilitate the new qualification process. The new process worked, and not only did registration exceed expectations, it blew it away. Surpassing 67,000 attendees, the amount of attendees was impressive to all who witnessed given it increased from 2013 by 8%; however the most gratifying aspect of the registration process in 2014 was the customer satisfaction reports coming back indicating it was the most qualified attendee base that had come to the SHOT Show in years.
As far as the exhibitors were concerned, it was another sell-out event at the Sands Expo Center. Exhibitor satisfaction following the 2014 SHOT Show came back as the highest rating ever. The coordination between Freeman, ConvExx and Sands Expo Center for both the move-in and move-out was cited as one of the key factors in the exhibitors’ positive view of the 2014 SHOT Show.