Are Trade Shows in Your Budget?

Jenni Chase
February 5, 2014
THE TALK... | Strategies & Practices

I'm in Las Vegas this week at the International Builders' Show, where I'm always struck by the sheer size of the event. Last year, IBS attracted upwards of 50,000 attendees, and judging by the activity on the trade show floor today, I'd say that number will be higher this year. One builder went so far as to tell me the show "looked like the good 'ole days."

And while that's wishful thinking--in its peak years, IBS brought in 100,000 people--he was right in saying that things are picking up. "During the Recession, it was hard to justify the expense of traveling to a trade show. But now, [attendees can afford the trip]," he said.

What about your company? Now that the market is heading in the right direction, are you considering attending more trade shows? Or is it still just not in the budget? Please take a few moments to share your thoughts and take this week's poll.

Survey Results for 02/05/2014 :

This year, my company plans to:

Maintain the status quo





Cut back on trade show attendance





Attend more trade shows than in recent years




Chase is editorial director of Window & Door, and its sister publication, Glass Magazine. Write her at

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Our firm will choose trade shows more wisely then in the past. We will not exhibit anymore in those that give poor service to the exhibitors such as Glassbuild.

Having attended the IBS show off and on for the past 23 years and remember the good old days when the number went from 70 to 100k attendees. As that occurred I also can remember the decline in the quality of attendees. Key decision makers stayed home and sent the rank and file as a reward for a good year. The show became flooded with supervisors, team leaders, lead carpenters, etc. After suffering through that for five years, our lead supplier (the booth I worked in) stopped paying for floor space. We would have 100s of leads from attendees that asked for their card to be "swiped", but in reality were really useless.

In addition, in the 1990s the NAHB and show administrators failed to stop the picture taking by attendees (most common were Chinese and Japanese attendees) and history tells the story of what happened. I saw that coming when I saw the first up close picture taken of our profiles and remember my Dad who worked at IBM complaining that Japanese visitors always brought cameras on their plant tours.

While the show may begin to see increased numbers, the challenge will be to convince the key decision makers to return to the show. Even with the show in Vegas.