March 2017

Ambush Marketing Basics in About 10 Minutes 
Experts Give Strategies For Preventing Trade Show Abuses

Professional Networking, Minus the Fees 
Conference & Expo Ambushing 
Let's look ahead to ASAE '17. By coincidence, I'm going to be in Toronto in August. If you are a registered attendee and I (an unregistered attendee or exhibitor) invite you to a trendy restaurant near the convention center for lunch on Monday (my treat), would you come?
Before you answer, consider that accepting this invite will take you away from the show floor for two of the seven open hours. It's still a good deal, because a) there will be wine 2) great conversation c) a better dining experience than on the show floor and d) I'm a cool, well-connected dude.
While I'm not breaking laws by luring you away, ASAE and many of its sponsors or exhibitors would not be happy with my evil plan. Sponsors and exhibitors invest big time into the opportunity to spend time with you. ASAE theoretically charges a lower registration fee because of those investments. You and I just ambushed their business model.
Ambushing conference/expos is a growing problem. The primary trends fueling the ambush include:
  1. The rise of the solopreneur and specialist.
  2. The preference of brands to have more intimate, targeted customer events.
  3. The alternatives offer more desirable, less hectic experiences.
  4. The tactics are cheaper, yet effective. 
The best strategies to avert the ambush are to make your main offerings more attractive, put photos on attendee badges or educate the profession on what's OK, and not OK, like CES does in this FAQ .
Is this a growing concern for your show? What steps have you taken to diffuse the ambush?
anchor1Ambush Marketing: 4 Ways to Diffuse Conference Scammers
A few practices keep chipping away at the integrity of professional events. Chief among them are outboarding, when companies bypass exhibiting or sponsoring and set up shop on the fringe of your event, and suitcasing, which refers to non-exhibiting sellers who work the aisles or hallways. Lobby rats--non-registered folks who hang out in public spaces, hosting a series of meet-ups with your badged attendees--is also a growing problem.

Left unchecked, these scammers pose a major threat to your business model, and with the rise in free-agent attendees (consultants, contractors, entrepreneurs), I suspect the problem will only grow. While we may recognize and use these terms, they are foreign to those outside the tradeshow and conference circles.


Should "lobby rats" be policed the same as suitcasers and outboarders?

I had a conversation a while back with a friend who wants to participate in some fringe benefits of a professional association meeting, but who doesn't want to pay a registration fee for a meeting whose sessions, keynotes, and networking events she doesn't plan to attend or see any value in. Basically, she wants to go hang out and have interesting discussions with people she knows will be attending the meeting without actually attending the meeting. We struggled a little bit about the ethics--is it wrong to take advantage of all those interesting people being in one place at one time without participating in, and paying for, the event itself? We never did quite come up with an answer, but obviously we both felt uncomfortable enough with it to have that discussion.

anchor3Experts Give Strategies for Preventing Trade Show Abuses
There's always someone trying to get something on the cheap--or free--but when that comes at the expense of your event, it can really cost you.

So-called "suitcasing" and "outboarding" are practices by which companies and individuals seek to benefit from your show without exhibiting, sponsoring or even in some cases attending.
"It's unethical," Gary Shapiro, CEO of the $92 million-revenue Consumer Technology Association, said at the CEO Update Live: Events that Drive Business forum.
"We will invest a lot of money to get people to come to a conference, and (outboarders will) take hotel rooms or sit around bars, they'll do something to try to steal the guests you've gotten without paying you," Shapiro said.

Justin Gignac wouldn't miss the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. But he doesn't pay.
Instead, Mr. Gignac, co-founder of an online community where advertising agencies can find creative talent, has for the last two years worked the lobbies and bars during the festival on the French Riviera, meeting advertising executives from around the world to expand his business.


Rick Calvert, CEO and co-founder of Blogworld & New Media Expo, once wrote How Suitcasing and Outboarding Harm Events.

The post attempts to tackle two very controversial challenges for our industry: suitcasing and outboarding.

Go ahead and take a few minutes to read Rick's entire blog post. I'll wait here while you read it. It'll be worth it.