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IMTS Exhibitor Workshop Delivers a Gold Mine of Advice

Just as successful marathon runners start training months before a race, so do IMTS exhibitors. While IMTS 2024 doesn’t start until September 9, savvy exhibitors start their official show training at the IMTS Exhibitor Workshop, held January 30 - 31.
Dec 05, 2023

Just as successful marathon runners start training months before a race, so do IMTS exhibitors who optimize show participation. While IMTS 2024 doesn’t start until September 9, savvy exhibitors start their official show training at the IMTS Exhibitor Workshop, held January 30 - 31 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.  

“I learned so much at the workshop. It is a playbook of what to avoid and what to embrace when planning for IMTS,” says Therese Corrigan-Bastuk. A recent addition to the IMTS Show Committee, Corrigan-Bastuk, marketing director at OGP, attended her first workshop and her first IMTS show in 2022. “If I hadn’t attended the workshop, I am confident that my logistical plans would have encountered many speedbumps.” 

“By attending the IMTS Exhibitor Workshop, you can be assured you will take advantage of every available opportunity to stretch your exhibit dollars,” says Bob Davis, global communications manager at Sunnen. Davis has participated in IMTS since 1988 and is a member of the IMTS Show Committee.  

The Exhibitor Workshop is designed for new and experienced exhibit and marketing planners. It starts with a reception and networking event on the evening of January 30. The agenda for January 31 includes: 

  • state-of-the-industry and state-of-the-show addresses from AMT leadership 

  • exhibits from more than 20 IMTS service providers (A/V, catering, electrical, sponsorships, etc.) 

  • a dozen different sessions divided into three educational tracks: execute (exhibit logistics and operation) market (lead generation, data analysis, marketing), and communicate (to your customers, trade magazine editors, and through social media). 

“Think of the Exhibitor Workshop as a gathering of industry performance coaches,” says Peter R. Eelman, chief experience officer at AMT. “Attending the workshop is the best way to ensure your IMTS program has the most impact possible. You will connect with experts who are familiar with every tool IMTS provides to support exhibitors.”   

Davis notes that no matter how many times you have exhibited, “Something has changed since the last show, whether it is the Custom Block Pricing, the hanging sign rules, or the marshalling yard instructions. The workshop addresses logistical considerations that can save your company money.   

Gisbert Ledvon, vice president of marketing, HEIDENHAIN, is another IMTS veteran on the IMTS Show Committee.   

“Meeting the people and the IMTS vendor partners who support the show at the workshop is critical if you run into last-minute problems at the show,” he says. “A good relationship can save the day in an emergency, plus you’ll learn who can help you avoid everyday headaches.”  Corrigan-Bastuk adds, “The presenters shared additional insights about local trade labor changes and national freight availability. With all the wonderful guidance I received, I was able to enjoy my summer!”  

Even veterans like Davis appreciate updates on show fundamentals. “I always like to hear Tommy Gilmore and the crew from GES* explain the latest Custom Block Pricing and other ways to save money. It is always entertaining, as well as educational,” he says.  *GES is the official contractor for IMTS.   

Eight Reasons to Attend 

Davis and Ledvon have participated in more than 25 IMTS shows between them and are long-time members of the IMTS Show Committee. Their collective wisdom for attending the Exhibitor Workshop includes these points:  

  1. Avoid being overwhelmed. First-time IMTS exhibit planners cannot comprehend the size or complexity of IMTS, much less what it takes to create an effective show experience. The workshop will help first-timers put the scope of the show in perspective (which is an added benefit of holding the event at McCormick Place). 

  2. Plan for success. The Exhibitor Workshop introduces exhibit team members to the tools available, such as the e-kit, IMTS Passport, Custom Block Pricing, Global Housing Services, and every tool essential to create a total IMTS plan. 

  3. Plan early. Follow the advice from the official IMTS service providers on how to put in all your orders early — that covers everything from locking in freight carriers to booking entertainment, dining, and hotel reservations. 

  4. Build positive momentum. The critical stages closer to show time are no time to start learning. By attending the workshop in January, exhibit planners can start making informed and effective decisions seven months before the show opens. 

  5. Hear from your peers. The best thing about IMTS is the IMTS community. You are not in this alone! Almost every question you can ask has been asked before, and the people who have been in your shoes are at the Exhibitor Workshop. You can get answers to questions that you might not be able to get anywhere else. 

  6. Bacon-saving connections. The workshop enables connecting face-to-face with the show vendors that you will be working with leading up to the show. You will also meet many of the AMT staff members, fellow exhibitors, trade media editors, and other experts who are IMTS veterans. Everyone is there to help and answer your questions! 

  7. Build and strengthen your network. IMTS veterans such as Davis and Ledvon attend the workshop to connect with other marketing professionals … because they know they never know where that next marketing nugget will come from. 

  8. Excellent ROI. Just one nugget from the workshop can pay for the trip many times over, whether that’s a money-saving logistics tip or a marketing tool that leads to new customers. For first-time and newer exhibitors, attending the workshop will provide a goldmine of advice. 

Register for the IMTS Exhibitor Workshop. A special hotel rate has been secured with the Hyatt McCormick Place. The hotel cutoff date is January 10, so make your plans today! 

Michelle Edmonson, CEM
Vice President, Exhibitions
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