Special projects are a great strategic resource for a trade show management team. They provide creative, customized solutions that address a specific show need or desired improvement, within a self-contained project that is typically developed and managed on a separate, parallel path – allowing the trade show team to remain focused on planning & implementing their on-going shows.
Special projects run the gamut, but a common measure for successful special projects is how they create and bring to life “something new” for an established show – driving greater attendee, exhibitor & sponsor interest and engagement while reinforcing the show’s industry leadership position.
Special projects are frequently used to
- Showcase new industry technologies, trends or unique developments – reinforcing the show’s industry leadership
- Celebrate an association or industry milestone
- Drive traffic to targeted areas of the trade show to support key exhibitor areas or industry initiatives
- Drive deeper attendee and exhibitor engagement around strategic initiatives or priorities
- Promote association or industry philanthropy and community outreach
While fully integrated into the overall show plan, special projects are typically a self-contained project – with a dedicated budget, schedule, and team to develop and implement – freeing up busy show staff to focus on the main shows during the year.
Here are a few recent examples of successful special projects addressing a range of show needs.
Special Project Examples
Vision Expo East – Eye2 Zone
The Eye2Zone is a technology pavilion that showcases industry innovation and emerging technologies and trends for the eyewear industry. The pavilion not only harnesses the excitement of new technology to bring a fresh perspective to the show – it is also an effective traffic driver for targeted areas of the show floor and a natural draw for industry leaders and the media to create greater engagement and interest in the show.
NAHB International Builders Show – Building Performance Lab
Earlier this month in Orlando, more than 80,000 people were able to experience the Building Performance Lab – a small, finished model home that featured live, interactive construction demonstrations using high-performance building materials and showcasing the latest trends. Through the use of cutaways and see-through sections, attendees got an inside look at new products and developments in the industry.
Winter Fancy Food Show – Front Burner Pitch Competition
Earlier this week in San Francisco, the Winter Fancy Food Show featured a live pitch contest called The Front Burner Foodservice Pitch Competition. Attendees were able to exhibitors show off their products to a panel of expert foodservice buyers followed by a reception with all participants. The show also featured Incubator Alley, an area on the show flow where attendees could meet emerging specialty food stars and explore their products.
CES – 50th Anniversary Celebration
2017 marked the 50th Anniversary of CES, and the show used the anniversary to recognize the show and its development through past 50 years. The project included a number touch points for attendees and exhibitors including a special website highlighting products through the decades, special exhibits on the show floor, keynote speeches celebrating 50 years and special attendee bags among other items. For those of us who are CES alumni – it was wonderful to celebrate the show & team who manage this show every year.
Toy Fair –Toy Industry Foundation
The Toy Fair created a special project more than a decade ago to address a common show challenge – helping exhibitors easily and cost-effectively dispose of exhibitor product samples at the end of a show. With more than 1,000 exhibitors showcasing more than 150,000 toys annually at the New York-based show, the need for a solution was obvious. The Toy Industry Foundation – the TIA’s foundation – collects the toys during move-out and distributes them to over 1,000 approved charities – saving exhibitors money and extending the impact and goodwill of the Toy industry in the larger region.
These are just a small sampling of the innovative ways leading trade shows are using special projects to increase attendee excitement, showcase industry accomplishments and extend the positive impact beyond the show floor.
Have you developed a special project for your show – or seen a great example? Please take a moment to share. We’re always looking for great examples to share with our others in the industry.