So, you’ve found yourself in trade show season, with the big show, #ASAE17 in Toronto, right around the corner. One of the reasons to spend precious time on any trade show floor is to discover potential partnerships that will help your association succeed. Now, whether that means finding exciting locations for your next annual meeting or a new association management software–word on the street is MemberClicks has a good one, btw–there are certain signals sent through a vendor’s on-floor presence and behavior that can give you an indication of their relationship potential once the booths have been broken down and you’re back in the real world together.

Did They Lead You Comfortably?

Signal: Hospitality

From the moment you step inside a booth, you should feel welcomed and comfortable. The worst interactions occur when you feel like you’re floundering. When a vendor rep doesn’t come to you and conduct a proper intro of what product, service or location they are promoting, it doesn’t make you feel well cared for. However, when a vendor makes quick eye contact, offers a warm welcome and leads the conversation in a productive way, that is a great indication that you’ve found a company that is confident in their service and willing to offer hospitality to make you feel like a valued client.

Did They Have Cool Stuff in their Booth?

Signal: Creativity

You go to enough trade shows, you start seeing a lot of the same promotional gear (how many battery sticks do you have in your desk drawer right now?). But you always remember the companies that served up some creativity in the chachki department. For the association professional, a promo item may not make a difference in, say, membership retention, but it could signal that you’re dealing with a creative vendor who is excited about solving your biggest problems in new ways.

Did They Educate You?

Signal: Legit Resource

Certainly, you visit specific booths during a trade show to gain insight and information. It is tremendously valuable when you walk away feeling like you learned something. Vendors are subject matter experts, and those that are able to tie what they do to solving the biggest pain points for the association industry are likely to be the best long term partners. Gaining knowledge is a great trade show goal, and being able to turn to your vendor partner for educated information is priceless.

Did They Have Patience for Your Questions?

Signal: Respect

Ever been in a situation where you were made to feel dumb after asking what you thought was a good, thoughtful question? Similar to what was outlined in the first section about vendors being hospitable, if a vendor makes you feel silly by treating your questions as if they’re beneath answering, that is a strong signal of disrespect. Indeed, if the front-line, customer-facing person isn’t treating questions with sensitivity, that is for sure a sign that customer support is not highly valued within the company period.

After the Show, Did They Follow Up?

Signal: Trust

Picture this: you visit a booth, have a good convo, and the company rep tells you they’ll call or email you with additional information related to your questions or requests. Is it reasonable to expect follow through? ABSOLUTELY! If a vendor misses an opportunity to follow up with you when stakes are high, what kind of response do you think you will receive when the ink is dry on a contract? Helpful hint: if follow up is needed, don’t leave the booth without asking for a timeframe in which you can expect to hear from them. Another quality you can measure from how close they come to their estimate: commitment.


Did They Reveal Their Tech Chops?

Signal: Innovation

While clever use of technology within a vendor space isn’t a surefire sign of a good business partner–in fact, flashy tech can sometimes gloss over a subpar product or service–it can suggest that you’re getting into business with a company that will not only challenge you to be innovative (and YES, associations–despite their limited resources–can embrace innovation), but will also assure you remain, by proxy, on the front of edge of tech advancements.


Finding Love in Toronto

MemberClicks is ready to experience Toronto with thousands of our closest association buddies. But we recognize that we haven’t met all of you yet; and we really want to. So, in addition to being on the Expo Hall floor (booth 721) MemberClicks has a number of opportunities to host you, learn more about your organization and answer your questions about finding true love with an AMS. Please join us! Save travels, and we’ll see you in Canada!