Voice of the Customer
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Voice of the Customer

We just finished exhibiting at the IHI conference at the Orlando Marriott World Center. The Marriott has expanded it’s exhibit hall, but, unfortunately it’s 150 yards from the nearest classroom. The exhibit hall management company, Corcoran, has shown a remarkable lack of interest in the voice of the exhibitors or voice of the attendees.

Voice of the customer is a simple concept: What do customers want?

The attendees want to learn new stuff. Classes and workshops aren’t the only place they can learn new stuff. The exhibit hall can keep them up to date on the latest methods and technology.

For example, it’s still amazing to me how many people stop by our booth who had no idea that Excel could do control charts, pareto charts, fishbones, histograms, value stream maps or other Lean Six Sigma charts and tools. If they don’t get to the exhibit hall, how are they going to learn about the QI Macros?

Exhibitors want lots of traffic. How do you get lots of traffic to an exhibit hall? Food and Drink. Corcoran put 20% of the breaks and lunches in the exhibit hall and 80% by the classrooms. Where would you go to get your free lunch?

We normally expect to handout QI Macros demos to a third to a half of the attendees. This conference we only managed to reach one-sixth of the attendees. That’s down 50% from last year.

Will the IHI and Corcoran listen to our voice of the customer and change how they handle the tradeshow food and drink in the future? Unknown.

To Corcoran’s credit, they did try a “Hail Mary” on the last day by putting 2/3s of the lunches in the exhibit hall (but put 1/3rd in the hallway outside which still gives those people the option to optĀ  out). And buses had already started running attendees to the airport.

Attendees want to learn something new and exhibitors want traffic. Both are easily solved by putting all of the food and drink inside the exhibit hall (or by changing to a venue that doesn’t require a 150-300 plus yard commute to the exhibit hall).

We have found that having an exhibit hall on a different floor than the classes also cuts attendance by 30-50%.

In these days of declining attendance, associations need exhibitors to make the tradeshows profitable. If you treat exhibitors badly, they simply will not return as many shows have discovered this year and next year will be even worse I suspect.

Who are your customers? What are they saying? What do they want? How can you give it to them? Listening to the voice of the customer is critical to survival.

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