SHOT Show is a Place for Business. Help us keep it that way.

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.

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11 Responses to “SHOT Show is a Place for Business. Help us keep it that way.”

  1. tlm says:

    Quit whining and act like you’ve been to a trade show before.

  2. Fred says:

    How about expanding the show two or three more days. During those days you open it to the public. No one wants to buy the latest greatest item to have something better come out a week later. Seems like you are complaining because you are popular and well liked. Fix the issue by opening it to everyone.

    • Richard says:

      The NRA show is a great place for the public to meet directly with manufacturers in one place. Hitting that will give you what you are looking for. SHOT is all about the industry, not the consumer.

    • Gary Salisbury says:

      I personally think that you should keep it open over the week-end for the public. Those vendors who do not want to interface with the public can pack it up and go home Friday night. That way you give everyone what they want; Industry Only Tuesday-Friday and Public Access Saturday & Sunday. Happy, happy, happy.

    • DaveinUtah says:

      Fred and Gary, the public has No business in a wholesale trade show.

  3. Gary Salisbury says:

    Chris Dolnack says: “One of the more consistent complaints that we receive about the SHOT Show over the years pertains to unqualified attendees…..” This makes me wonder exactly who is complaining and what about?

    Each attendee has to pay an admission fee, so are you making too much money? OK, maybe.

    Are there too large of crowds at the concession line? OK, maybe.

    Maybe too many people in line for the john? OK, maybe.

    Perhaps the exhibitors are complaining of too many people visiting their booths? Would you prefer the opposite where no one visited you?

    Just wondering………

    Gary Salisbury
    Paragon Gunsmiths, LLC

    • Richard says:

      I think there is a big difference between “people visiting the booth” and “qualified buyers visiting the booth.” A company has a finite amount of resources: time, people and space. While I am sure most companies would like to talk to everyone, they cannot. Therefore, most companies would rather focus on buyers and influencers, rather than enthusiasts who got in because a friend could vouch for them.

      Think of it with your business. Having a 1000 people wander through your store might seem like a good thing, but if only 10 are potential customers, wouldn’t you rather the other 990 not be there so you could concentrate on the people who are actually there to pay for your services?

      Just my thoughts…

    • Gary Salisbury says:

      Yes, you do make an excellent point.

  4. BMW_rider says:

    I was raised in the Detroit area, by an auto engineer father. He’d take me to the NAIAS, which was open to the public, of course. But, I was also welcome to attend the SAE show too. This however, was the case only on “Family Night” because, like the SHOT Show, the purpose of the event was for people in the industry. If you’re just an enthusiast, you’re really just getting in the way of people trying to do business at the SHOT Show. This isn’t your typical trade show; it’s really meant for insiders only.

  5. Manufacturer's Rep says:

    I am a manufacturer’s rep. I have to be at the show 3-4 days in advance for sales meetings and then work the show for the 4 days. I n addition it seems every distributor in the country has a show in January and February making it even more difficult to be at all the shows. I would not want the show to be open to the public and have to spend a few more days there-especially with all of the expense. The public can see the product at the NRA show as mentioned or at consumer show on a regional basis. There are so many people at the show that have nothing to do with buying products that as a rep I have begun screening the people I meet at a booth. I hate to do that but I have to in order to help the ones that are in the business.
    The LE side of the show is bleeding over into the sporting goods side since there is no restriction on where you can go once you have a badge. I can’t tell you how many cops I answered questions for that are only interested on a personal level. I don’t blame them- I blame the show for allowing the cross over. Raise the price of the badges-LE stays in the LE side and sporting goods stays on their side. It’s not the solution but it’s a start.
    Do I think the Show will turn away money for badges-NO–but it has gotten out of control and something needs to be done.

  6. hrlee49 says:

    Why not require a business license, tax I.D. or FFL number to be able to register?
    Then offer only 2 badges for each applicant including only 2 badges for each exhibitor?
    All other badges would require a higher price, if this truly reduces the number of attendees then most exhibitors may not need as many people to work their booths.

    The higher price for additional exhibitor badges would balance the reduction in “off the street” attendees.

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