One of the more consistent complaints that we receive about the SHOT Show over the years pertains to unqualified attendees, that is, people not engaged in the shooting, hunting or outdoor trade and who lack purchasing authority or the ability to influence purchasing. It has been suggested that better screening SHOT Show® attendees would result in a better show experience for attendees and exhibitors alike, and we have invested considerable time and money into screening out unqualified attendees. However, the biggest opportunity to screening out non-buyers who are not engaged in the industry (consumers) lies with the exhibitors and attendees themselves.
How can that be? Even if you count every manufacturers’ rep and company staffer working the booth, that still leaves a lot of room for non-buyers — who have a place at an industry trade show and conference — ranging from lawyers to engineers to investors to suppliers. That also leaves a lot of room for fraternity brothers, college roommates, cousins, former neighbors and, well, you get the picture.
And on the attendee side, there are retailers who bring some of their most loyal customers as a reward or perquisite of sorts. Some retailers bring customers who have a specialized knowledge to lend a hand in sorting out newer or lesser known products. And some still bring their extended family to make the week of SHOT Show a working vacation.
We have reinstituted the limit of four exhibitor credentials for every 100 square feet of exhibit space. We have also challenged requests for large numbers of exhibitor credentials. So with this blog post I’m once again asking for the industry’s help in cleaning up our collective act. We need those of you who bring non-qualified persons to SHOT Show under the guise of being exhibit staff or part of your retail store’s sales or purchasing staff to take a hard look at the qualifications of those you bring to the 2014 SHOT Show and join us in being part of the solution to the non-qualified attendee issue rather than part of the problem.