Season 1, Episode 1
Dorothy Bedor is
The Trade Show Manager
After a successful experience at CES in 2018, The Trade Show Manager, aka, Dorothy Bedor, decided to up the ante for CES 2019 and launch a podcast featuring the exhibitors and special guests of the North Carolina Startup Pavilion.
About This Episode
Announcer: 00:00 You’re listening to Trade Show Live!! On the Road, featuring conversations with the people who bring trade shows to life, including attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and trade show, industry thought leaders. We attend trade shows around the country and a wide variety of industries from healthcare consumer products and everything in between. The podcast is a production of The Trade Show Manager, a trade show consulting firms, and now let’s go On the Road with Trade Show Live!.
Janet: 00:27 Welcome to Trade Show Live! On the Road. This podcast is a production of The Trade Show Manager and features an in depth look at the people, companies, and organizations that bring trade shows to life. In January 2019, we are headed to CES, the Consumer Electronics Show with an amazing group of startups and business leaders will be in Eureka Park and displaying some of the best new ideas coming from the startup community in North Carolina. With me today is the President of The Trade Show Manager, Dorothy Bedor, and she’s going to talk with us about why we created the idea for the North Carolina Startup pavilion to go to CES. Dorothy, welcome to the podcast.
Dorothy: 01:12 Thank you, Janet.
Janet: 01:14 I’m so glad to have you here. I’ve had the pleasure of working with you for a couple of years now and I love the way you kind of look at things a little bit from the outside of the traditional box and I really feel like as I’ve been new to the trade show industry, what I look at as a lot of folks who are doing things the way they’ve always done it before and it just isn’t working anymore.
Janet: 01:38 Is that what you’re seeing as a trade show professional?
Dorothy: 01:41 Yes. It’s a new world, Janet.
Janet: 01:44 So what would you see as some of the things that are holding shows back from being innovative or in, in being successful as a trade show?
Dorothy: 01:54 Well, a lot of trade shows are locked into different times in the year and have to go back to the same city because of the size of the trade show and so they’re locked in to going the same place every year and they’ve been doing it every year at the same place, at the same building. And after a while it just gets really routine, so you really have to almost stand on your head professionally and do something different to bring in the innovation or excitement to the show.
Janet: 02:30 Well, I can understand where if you’re managing a big show that there’s a lot of moving parts and if you finally get to a point where, hey, I got all the forms right, I got all the systems right, I know when I need to tell people to do things when we’re selling blah blah, blah. Seems to me that that’s a good thing, right?
Dorothy: 02:50 It is a good thing, but it’s not a good thing for your attendees because your attendees don’t want to keep coming back year after year and go to the same old event. So that’s why you really have to think about your attendee. You have to walk in their shoes and most of the leading trade shows do. They do do that. But it is very easy to do the same thing over and over again. So you really have to fight to do something new and to be fresh.
Janet: 03:21 No, I know you’ve been involved in the trade show industry for most of your career and I learned a term from you that I hadn’t heard before and it has to do with the size of shows that if, what, what do they call the really, really big shows?
Dorothy: 03:37 Well the big shows are called MATSO shows and those are a Major American Trade Shows and that those are just each shows that are over 200,000 square feet.
Janet: 03:49 So that limits where they can go, right?
Dorothy: 03:52 Yes. And I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work on some of the very largest shows in the United States and the world. I started my career in Consumer Electronics Shows that it can only go to Las Vegas and Chicago when I started. And then, and then IMTS that can only go to Chicago.
Janet: 04:11 What does IMTS mean?
Dorothy: 04:14 IMTS – the International Manufacturing Technology Show. It’s the largest machine tool building manufacturing show in the world and it can only go to Chicago really. It really needs a really big building. It’s over a million square feet. And so is CES.
Janet: 04:33 Well, I’m kinda tired just thinking about how big those shows are.
Dorothy: 04:38 Yes. It’s like putting together a, a city. I mean that’s what so fun about working in trade shows because you’ve got the blank canvas. You’ve got these empty buildings that are completely empty, you know, football fields of, of buildings and you have to move all this equipment in and for IMTS, I mean some of those machines weigh tons and tons so you have to have big trucks and move them in and say it takes an army of people and then you have to do the electricity and the plumbing and the water and the security and the carpet and I mean it’s, it’s fantastic. It’s just a fantastic career and that’s why I’ve stayed in it so long because you know, it’s a blank canvas and you can play in the colors and everything. It’s just very exciting
Janet: 05:30 Getting to see a little bit of the inside of a trade show. It was fascinating to me, number one, how far in advance these sites are planned, how long in advance contracts are signed and that while there are some shows haven’t even happened yet. They’re already looking at the next year for the layout and all the logistics. It’s amazing. So I think that makes a challenge though. If if you to do your logistics, if you to get your map out, you got to plan your areas and that you’ve got current people committing to space for the following year, if you want to be innovative and creative, that presents some challenges.
Dorothy: 06:12 Well it does. It’s just the important versus the urgent. Of course you have to get the booth to sign. Of course you have to order all the utilities. Of course you have to market the event that you really need to think about how to get some life and some innovation to the show because over 95 percent of the reason attendees come to trade shows to see what’s new and that’s from the CER research. CER is center for exhibition research and that’s why you have to always remember that the reason people are paying the registration, getting on a plane to come to your event is to see what’s new. That’s what’s really fascinating about trade shows is people are actually paying to come see what’s new at your event.
Janet: 07:04 This sounds like this is a really important opportunity for exhibitors to really make sure that they are showing at their highest potential.
Dorothy: 07:14 Yes it is, and unfortunately some of them get bogged into make sure that they shipped everything, make sure that the sign looks good, make sure that the colors are right, make sure that the carpets down and they forget to bring what’s new. So we really have to try to keep the main thing, the main thing.
Janet: 07:38 Oh, that is such a good point. Well, let’s talk a little bit about CES. You mentioned that you actually started your career at CES.
Dorothy: 07:46 Yes.
Janet: 07:47 How big was it when you first started?
Dorothy: 07:49 Well, it was still very big. I mean it was a million square feet instead of 4,000 exhibitors. I think it was 2000 exhibitors that. The interesting thing, Janet was, it was in January in Las Vegas and then it was in June in Chicago, so been doing a cs size show every six months, which was incredible. I’m exhausted just thinking that. Yes. I started there with Karen [inaudible] who’s now the Lead of Vice President. Yes. And Gary Shapiro, who’s now the president of the association, so we all started together and they’re still there. And so, we were, it was a lot. So now I think now they have their show in China in the summer now.
Janet: 08:38 Oh, that’s an interesting thing. I actually didn’t realize that with the CS. Let’s go back to 2018 way back to 2018. Tell me a little bit about how did the idea of putting together a booth for 2018 come about and, and who did you decide to approach for it?
Dorothy: 08:57 That’s a great story. Well, you know, it happened at a face to face event and I’m passionate about meeting people. I mean, you can talk to people over the phone, you get an email, but when you meet people at an event, it comes alive and you network. And so I met an exhibitor who was a panelist and the event here in the Raleigh area and he was talking about just coming back from mobile world congress and I thought, wow, this guy’s really got a global perspective. So I started talking to him and I said, well, what other shows do you want to go to? And he said, I want to go to CES, but I’m really not sure how to do it, you know, such a big show. And I said, well, I think I can help you with it. So, I started talking to him further and then I got in contact with CES.
Dorothy: 09:49 I have been doing innovation programs for a lot of larger shows and decided that it would be the best bet to spring this exhibitor in some of his companies that he knew here in the Raleigh area, the research triangle to participate in the Eureka Park area of consumer electronics. CES really does it right? They have a whole convention center and the lower level of the Sands of called Eureka Park. That features start up, new exhibitors, you know, that it’s all about new and so we put together a pavilion, just send like two weeks, and we’d be put together the pavilion with companies from, from the research triangle net last year. It was a huge success.
Janet: 10:41 I loved being there myself. It was actually my first visit to see us and I will say just staying primarily in the Sands and Eureka Park. That was overwhelming. I can’t even imagine what it would be like trying to do the whole show all the way up and down the strip. It’s like every location, every hotel room was booked.
Dorothy: 11:03 Yes. It’s incredible. There’s nothing like it. It’s up to over 180,000 attendees now.
Janet: 11:09 So the cool thing about CES and what we did, and I’ll do the corporate, we here since I’m part of the social media team, one of the things that we were able to do was kinda elevate what was happening. So while we did have a group of companies that came together under one pavilion title, we kind of elevated that by doing some work with live social media and being a social media ambassador either because they weren’t heavily invested in social media themselves or their social media people weren’t there and we were able to lift the story for them. And I think that turned out very well, don’t you?
Dorothy: 11:46 Yes, it was incredible because everybody is on a level playing field. Even in know these small companies in Eureka Park and smaller booths versus the big companies in the convention center, you know, they’re all exhibitors at CES, but the people at Eureka Park have a little bit of an advantage because everybody that attends CES goes there. A lot of times people go there first to see what’s new. And so they did with our social media. You did an incredible job and to see what’s new and the attendees that are exhibitors are trying to have come visit. The booth came in, they came and they met with our exhibitors. One of our exhibitors even went to Korea to meet with the home company there, you know, the Home Office and so it was wonderful to see this potential in law at CES.
Janet: 12:46 Well, and that was one of the coolest stories is that as small as these were and in Eureka Park, I think you told me there were like 800 booths in Eureka Park and we were four of them, so I can’t even do the math that shows you how small that is, but we were so yet all of our participants last year ended up with some key interviews, he contacts and made some key business connections there. So they were all very happy and we have a couple of them coming back this year. One of the things I wanted you to share with folks is about the limitations of Eureka Park, that you can call yourself a startup forever, right?
Dorothy: 13:26 No, you can’t. It’s an interesting point. Janet, you have to be a very new. You can’t have sold a product and you have to not even really launched until the year that you’re going to exhibit at CES. So it’s very, I mean the criteria is pretty tight and that, and that’s good that you know, when you’re seeing the companies in Eureka Park, you know, that they’re brand new.
Janet: 13:52 Well and that brought a lot of interesting people to the table. So while it’s called the Consumer Electronics Show, we actually saw all kinds of venture capital folks, investors, large company, small company, the US military was there, universities were there, so there were a lot of people there looking for business opportunities, not necessarily what’s the neatest new retail consumer item coming out.
Dorothy: 14:20 Yes, it attracted all different kinds of attendees that had all different kinds of needs. And, and also like you mentioned investors that really wanted to invest in these companies.
Janet: 14:32 So for 2019, what’s new?
Dorothy: 14:35 What’s new is that we are going to have five booths this year and we are bringing two of the companies that we had in 2018. We have a new company that is a cool technology company that’s going to be joining us and then we have the state of North Carolina that’s going to be coming with us, the Economic Partnership for North Carolina. We are so grateful that they’re going to join us because we have so many of attendees and want to know about what’s going on in North Carolina, what’s going on in the technology space, what, what’s it like to be a company in North Carolina? It know why the people, why isn’t North Carolina so hot for business and so they’re going to be there. They’re going to be there and be able to ask all the questions.
Janet: 15:28 Yeah. We’re very, very excited about the kind of the wide variety of folks that are going to be in our booth and as you mentioned, we do have some returning folks coming to us. One of them being Lumova and you’re going to be hearing a podcast interview about him shortly. The other returning company is Wiser Systems and they were a big hit last year because they brought an kind of an interactive demo. That was very fun and really brought a lot of people to their booth, so they really did a good job with what they brought to the trade show experience.
Janet: 16:05 Can I mention they have a really cool mascot and that’s why they call it the Wiser Systems.
Janet: 16:13 Yeah, please do. For those who are listening, we actually will be doing an interview with each of the folks who are going to be both a having a booth at the North Carolina Startup pavilion as well as who are going to be part of our live podcast series. So I guess let’s talk about that.
Dorothy: 16:34 Yes. That’s, that’s something that you get. and congratulations for presenting to the team. Janet. We’ve decided that podcasting would be so fantastic before and during and after CES and we’re excited about having live podcasts right there on the floor.
Janet: 16:54 It’s going to be a very interesting experience for us. For those of you who are not going to be able to attend CES, we will be able to give you some insight into what’s happening at Eureka Park and with the folks who are both demonstrating and with the folks who are going to have booths at our North Carolina Startup pavilion as well as some special guests we’re going to be inviting in. So we’ll be posting on our social media at The Trade Show Manager and at Trade Show Live!, the links to when we’ll be live and we’ll be live. I’m in Facebook and possibly even YouTube, so you’ll get a chance to watch that, but also you can catch up with it later. One of the things I wanted to talk about are our featured guests who are going to be stopping by the booth during the show.
Janet: 17:46 So we’re not at liberty to tell you who all of them, but we are going to have some special guests come to our booth and be with us for awhile during CES. So it’ll be really important for you to catch up with the live stream, which we will then also turn into podcasts after the event. So one of the things that we really decided is that people need to know a lot more about our booth participants because their stories are fascinating and we’re going to tell them via podcasting and via live social media. But I wonder as you look at this kind of concept, do you think that a live podcasting and pulling people in to hear stories at a trade show booth has legs?
Dorothy: 18:31 Oh yes. It’s a, it’s fascinating and I think it’s always wonderful to have engagement at the booth and also to have the opportunity to have evergreen material in case you missed the podcast. Absolutely.
Janet: 18:48 Well, we saw that recently. We were in Chicago, a touring the Print Show and saw I really well done work with podcasting and live streaming. Do you remember that?
Dorothy: 18:59 Yes. It was fantastic and it was fun and it was thought leadership.
Janet: 19:04 Absolutely. And I think that’s a very unique thing that we can do for smaller companies and smaller presence. And one of our folks from last year, and you’ll hear in his podcast interview, I spoke with Stephen Taylor, who is the communications director for wiser systems, but he absolutely saw that once they committed to being at CES and we’re listed in the CS directory, their web traffic popped way up, pre-event, during the event, and after the event and definitely that the, the social media made them competitive as this one single booth in a sea of booths throughout CES. They actually scored significantly on awareness for social media and for their presence. I thought that was pretty impressive stuff.
Dorothy: 19:56 CES, like going to the Olympics. It really is. I mean, it can unlock your potential. I mean, if you can exhibit at CES, you can exhibit anything.
Janet: 20:07 Oh, I think that’s very true. The trial by fire process of going to a show this large. so actually as you’re an expert in trade shows, Dorothy, and we’re going to have other conversations on other topics coming up, but about CES. For folks who are planning to attend, even as attendees, not necessarily as vendors, what advice would you give them in preparing for and managing their day at CES?
Dorothy: 20:35 CES is exhausting because it’s a marathon and it’s many, many booths in many, many miles said, be sure to have comfortable shoes, have water with you, have snacks with you because with the crush of people it’s hard to get food anywhere and it’s also important to take breaks. You need to take a break because your legs, your knees, your ankles, feet. It’s so hard because it’s, it’s, it’s like climbing a mountain. You have to be very careful because you’re in Las Vegas and unfortunately the cigarette smoke is really in the buildings and all over the conventions, you know, the casinos and everything. So just take some fresh air brakes and just to enjoy it. The thing that makes CES so wonderful and so valuable and such a good investment is, is that there’s never a law and the traffic. When we were there last year, I went out and took a picture at 2:00 in the afternoon on the Friday. The show was going to close at four and the attendees are just pouring in the building. There was a shuttle buses lined up full of attendees. I mean, where do you have that? It was this such a crush of people. So, it’s fantastic and I’m so excited. But tell me again.
Janet: 22:02 Yeah, when you have a show that large and people are attending, they’re not popping between venues. They’re saying, okay, today is the venue here. Then I’m going to go here, then I’m going to go here. So you’re just as likely to have strong traffic on the last day as the first day. Well, Dorothy, I am so excited about what we’re going to be doing at CES 19 and also looking forward to some other exciting things during 2019 at other shows, which I know we’ll be talking about in future podcasts, but for now you have been listening to Trade Show Live! On the Road, a podcast that’s a production of The Trade Show Manager and features an in depth look at the companies and organizations that bring trade shows to life. Thank you all for listening and we’ll see you in the next podcast episode.
Announcer: 22:51 Thanks for listening to Trade Show Live! – On the Road, a production of The Trade Show Manager, a trade show consulting firm. If you need innovative programs to engage attendees and exhibitors and sponsors, custom research or new solutions for your trade show, contact The Trade Show Manager on our website, TheTradeShowManager.com.
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