You probably already have some feedback on the show, either from being there or talking to others who were. You may have read that the number of attendees was down from previous NPEs, and that some major suppliers did not exhibit. You also may have heard that the show was good, or at least better, maybe much better, than people expected.
I ask every exhibitor I talk with during a show how the show is going for them. On the first day of NPE2009 I was getting upside feedback, with exhibitors saying the show was starting slow, as it always does, but that visitors, though not numerous, were there to talk real business. They had projects and plans. Good to hear, but I found myself thinking this might be a bit of wishful thinking going on. I doubt I was the only one who wanted the show to create some momentum.
Visitor traffic picked up noticeably on the second day. Exhibitors were busy doing business, enough so it was hard for me to talk with them. The comments I did get were still positive, though, but always with some caution thrown in: “Well, it’s pretty good, but who knows about tomorrow.”
We had coffee and pastry at our booth each morning before the show opened, a good time to catch up with old friends. The first person I saw on the third morning was an industry veteran, a sharp guy from a well-known supplier. How’s it going? I asked. He said his group checks its leads carefully at the end of each day, and they were pretty good. Then he moved closer and kind of whispered that they were surprised at how good they were.
He made me swear not to quote him, but said that this could be the best NPE ever for his company, mostly for the quality of the inquiries coming in. I saw him on the last day and he still felt that way. Of course it would depend on how much of the interest turned into real business, but he was hopeful.
As the show went along, virtually all the exhibitors I spoke with said much the same thing: The quantity of visitors was down, but the visitors that were there were top quality. Interest level was high and they had specific projects and needs. Very few were "just looking". Honestly, not one exhibitor I spoke with was blindly optimistic. They said the recovery, whatever shape it takes, won’t happen fast. There are a lot of unknowns; the industry landscape has changed and no one’s sure what it will look like when it shakes out.
But on the upside, they said, the show was better, even much better, than we all expected—or than we feared. On the downside, we’re nowhere near out of the woods.
That’s what I heard at NPE. What about you? Please take a minutes to share what you heard. We’d all like to hear it. —[email protected]