xplore Encourages Strategic Thinking

xplore Encourages Strategic Thinking

June 30th, 2015 0 Comments

For another perspective of the xplore event, check out this article from PCMA. 

Creating a valuable, not-to-be-missed experience for attendees is paramount for exhibition and event planners today. Approaching this goal from a strategic standpoint is successful for many, as their events are tied directly to organizational objectives and desired outcomes. The Expo Group presented a half-day seminar this month in Washington D.C. for a few community members ready to drive their shows forward. 

Thinking strategically when we are bogged down in logistical details can be challenging enough, so Velvet Chainsaw’s EVP of Education and Engagement Jeff Hurt started off the day encouraging everyone to “be ridiculous in charge” and stop being a simplistic order taker, copying ideas and multitasking through the day.

One of his best-received tips was simply, “Sometimes you need to walk away.” The brain solves problems best by taking a break from the matter, Hurt says, so take that two-minute video game break, or a 20-minute walk, to give your brain a chance to slow down and make the connections it needs  to solve the issue at hand.

Moving on into the day, we received specific tips on working with sponsors and exhibitors from National Trade Productions’ Stacey Correcha-Price and Amy Fisher, who encouraged everyone to rethink partnerships, sponsorships and sales techniques because what was true yesterday is not true today. Trade show teams must consult with their sponsor and partners to understand why they are involved or might want to be involved in the show. Learning what they want to achieve in their own business can unearth a strategic link and lead to a powerful partnership.

The tour of the 2015 United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation GEOINT 2015 Symposium really showed strategic thinking in action. For the GEOINT show, USGIF worked with The Expo Group to achieve these three specific goals. 

1. Brand the GEOINT show more tightly to USGIF
2. Keep attendees in the building, since most are local 
3. Increase and better serve the membership 

To begin addressing those objectives, The Expo Group Creative Director Nicole O’Leary advised everyone to “Always start where your attendees will start. What is it they will experience when they walk in the door and throughout their journey with you? Think strategically – what do you want attendees to feel? To learn? To walk away with?”

USGIF’s GEOINT symposium started off with simple branding, a large banner, and décor that blended with the facility where attendees would make themselves at home for the week.

“It’s not about being cool but making sure the design serves a purpose,” O’Leary said as she toured xplore attendees through the symposium’s space at the Washington Convention Center. She reinforced the idea throughout the tour that layout and design must tie back to the strategic objectives.. 

The wide open space known as the USGIF booth  created an impressive presence at the front of the trade show floor. No question of who is responsible for the production of the GEOINT Symposium remained, and members were able to freely interact with USGIF staff and with each other at each station. Recognizing the impact of social media, the I AM USGIF prop encouraged attendees to snap selfies and share them, resulting in Twitter being populated throughout the week with USGIF branding.

Keeping attendees engaged in the show and interacting with exhibitors was further helped by the general session entrance and exit being through the exhibit hall. Large banners used generous negative space to ease the eye and prepare the brain for the change in atmosphere as they entered the theater. 


Starting with organizational strategy, applying it to the attendee journey and creating truly impactful spaces and smart creative pieces are a model for success in exhibitions and events. As Executive Director Keith Masback said, “We want to make a statement from the minute [attendees] arrive. They create the environment for us to do that.” 

For another perspective of the xplore event, check out this article from PCMA. 

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