More Than Just Lunch

By Michael Ellis, Director of Sales

When an event is as established and successful as our own, it can be challenging to identify ways to add value and improve on it. However, we saw an opportunity with the annual Exhibitor Luncheon to make a few adjustments and create an "in-demand" event.

In past years, the luncheon didn't maximize the opportunities for exhibitors and our staff to mingle with one another. Previously open to all exhibitors, some would grab their free lunch and leave before talking to their peers or listening to the program we'd spent time putting together. This left little time for our team to engage them or for attendees to get to know their fellow exhibitors better.

To change that dynamic, we decided to re-imagine the event as an invitation-only, peer-to-peer learning opportunity and inject some new life into the gathering.

The most notable changes in format to create the desired impact were:

  • We moved from a cavernous room and venue to one that maxed out at 120 to create a more intimate feel.
  • We changed the format to be more exclusive. The sales team came up with a targeted list of invitees who had to RSVP in order to attend.
  • Instead of open seating, we used assigned seating, as well as split up people attending from the same This encouraged the forging of new relation- ships and created networking opportunities for folks who may not otherwise interact with one another.
  • We replaced the buffet-style meal, with a classy, seated plate lunch.
  • We introduced a new peer panel format presentation that was hosted Phil Donahue-style (Young people, feel free to Google that) by Publisher Jeremy McGovern, who executed it to perfection.

Thanks to the leadership of Jeremy and the room-filling efforts of Amy Johnson and Sarah McQuin, the newly revamped exhibitor luncheon was a success. A special shout out to Bree Greenawalt for her work in the many details of the new format.

Here are a few comments that came from our many outstanding reviews:

  • "I've been to many shows with luncheons and this one was, by far, the best one I have ever been to. I took notes the entire time and will be sharing information with my marketing lead when back in the office."
  • "I really liked the change in format and enjoyed talking to new people at my table — I made some good connections."

There are a few minor things that we can adjust moving forward, but thanks to the efforts of the entire team, we've taken the 1st giant step toward creating a must-attend luncheon that was an overwhelming success, and will certainly be an important part of our exhibitors' experience for years to come.