Solid Waste & Recycling


Return on Trade Show Investment

While lots of companies attend and exhibit at trade shows some get good value and others do not. The value obtained is a direct function of a few critical factors.First and foremost, selection is impo...

While lots of companies attend and exhibit at trade shows some get good value and others do not. The value obtained is a direct function of a few critical factors.

First and foremost, selection is important. While it’s wise to exhibit at shows that attract a company’s target audience, it may also be wise to consider non-environmental trade shows. For example, a manufacturer’s show that normally doesn’t attract environmental companies offers little competition. The quality of contacts made is more important than the quantity of attendees. Seek out shows that are held in conjunction with a conference, as they tend to attract the best audience. Small or regional shows put on by industry associations are often excellent in this regard.

Second, it’s important to make the proper preparations in advance and be organized when it starts. Be sure to have a professional and inviting booth. (Don’t use tables as barriers.) Staff it with knowledgeable personnel and follow the old advice that it’s better that they stand than sit.

Third, reserve a space early so that you can get a good location. Many companies hold off making a decision until the last minute, and forgo a good spot. Like real estate, trade shows are all about location, location, location. The spot to the right of the entrance is often the best. Alternatively, consider a location near the refreshment area, or near another booth that you know will get a lot of traffic. Offer fun “freebees” or hold a draw. The best booths are those operated by companies that see it as a chance to entertain prospective clients.

Fourth, don’t hand out materials just for the sake of it. Only provide material that effectively attracts the target audience.

Last but not least, follow up on all leads. One good prospect that leads to a significant contract can justify the entire trade show expense. Many companies collect business cards and names at shows, then fail to follow up.

If going to a tradeshow as an attendee, be there to network with exhibitors and other attendees, not to sell. Exhibitors have paid to be there to prospect, not to be prospected. But you can keep their business cards and follow up afterward.

Some popular industry shows worth attending or exhibiting at are as follows.

Globe — Globe is a biennial conference and trade show about business and the environment that has been held in Vancouver since 1992. The Globe Foundation was originally set up with federal government seed money back in the early 1990s. The 2002 event attracted more than 9,000 attendees representing about 70 countries. It offers good access to senior Canadian government officials and leading environmental industry executives as well as foreign delegations

Americana — This is a biennial Pan-American environmental technology trade show and conference that has been held in Montreal since 1995, founded by the Quebec industry association R…SEAU Environment. Statistics from the 2001 Americana indicate that 32 per cent of attendees had business interests in drinking water and wastewater and 18 per cent focused on air issues. The 2003 event was expected to draw approximately 10,000 delegates from about 90 countries.

Canadian Waste & Recycling Expo — The Canadian Waste & Recycling Expo is a national annual trade show serving the collection, hauling, processing and disposal of waste and recycling industries. Traditionally held in December, it attracts approximately 5,000 delegates and 300 exhibitors including municipalities, waste management, government, and manufacturing. Participants mainly come from Canada, but there is also representation from the U.S. and overseas. This year it is scheduled for December 3 to 4. This show was created by Lee Baker and Stuart Galloway who recently entered a partnership with Messe Frankfurt, a large exhibition management company that has 750 years of exhibition experience.

These articles are based on public sources deemed to be accurate. These articles are designed for information purposes and are not intended as a recommendation of the companies discussed. Individuals looking to invest in this sector should consult an investment advisor before proceeding.

James Sbrolla is a management consultant to the environment and waste management industry. E-mail James at

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