‘Suitcasing’ and ‘Outboarding’ Not Welcome at SHOT Show

In order to protect our valued exhibitors and their investment in attending the SHOT Show and in supporting NSSF’s mission as the industry’s trade association, our rules strictly prohibit solicitation, “suitcasing” or “outboarding” by attendees who transact business at the show or in SHOT Show hotels and do NOT have exhibit booths.

What are suitcasing and outboarding?

Suitcasing and outboarding are unethical parasitic business practices in which non-exhibitors attempt to gain access to trade show attendees and/or exhibitors. These practices skirt the support of the organizer and the industry.

Suitcasing refers to those non-exhibiting companies or persons who go to shows as an attendee but “work the aisles” from their suitcase (briefcase) and solicit business in the aisles or lobby area.

An example of this occurred last year when a well-known cutlery maker sent out alerts to potential customers that while they will not be exhibiting this year they will have personnel walking the show floor and will be offering a SHOT Show Special. To protect our exhibitors and their investment, we revoked that company’s SHOT Show credentials and escorted them from the show floor.

Outboarding refers to non-exhibiting companies that set up exhibits at off-site locations — hotel hospitality suites or restaurants — and encourage show attendees to leave the show floor and spend time with them.

An example of this occurred last year when rather than exhibit at the 2010 SHOT Show, a well-known firearms maker set up a hospitality room in a hotel off the show floor and invited retailers to leave the show floor and visit their suite. To protect our exhibitors, the hotel agreed to shut down the suite, as provided for in its contract with the SHOT Show. The manufacturer attempted to relocate to yet another hotel, which refused to allow the manufacturer to outboard the show.

By suitcasing or outboarding the show, an attendee gains an unfair competitive advantage over SHOT Show exhibitors that have invested money and other resources to exhibit and deprives NSSF (as the show’s owner) of income we use to support our many programs and initiatives. Please keep in mind, this is not just a SHOT Show policy; it is an industry standard recognized by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).

Any SHOT Show attendee, who is observed to be soliciting business in the aisles or other public spaces, or uninvited attendees in another company’s booth, will be asked to leave immediately. Likewise, known commercial activity conducted from a hotel guest room or hospitality suite, a restaurant or any other public place in proximity to the SHOT Show by non-exhibiting companies, will be shut down. Those found to be involved with suitcasing or outboarding will no longer be welcome at the SHOT Show.

For more information on suitcasing and outboarding, please visit the IAEE website.

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  • Dave

    What about the “potiential” exhibitors that can not aquire space in the vaunted exhibit hall? Our company tried three different times to secure floor space at the 2011 SHOT and was told that it was sold out. What are we to do? Why is it right for only the selected few to be allowed to conduct business in the city of Las Vegas? Explain this in a way that makes sense….

    • Karole

      Hi Dave – Not sure how it works, but if you go to the floor plan you can mouse over many spaces that say “This space is available for reservation” – you may want to ask about this.
      Good luck!

    • http://twitter.com/chrisdolnack Chris Dolnack

      The SHOT Show is a privately owned and held trade-only event. With over 1,400 exhibitors there are hardly a “select few” exhibitors Dave. The exhibitors make the show possible and it is our responsibility to protect their investment. We wish we had more space for potential exhibitors like you. You can certainly attend if you are involved in the trade, but please don’t suitcase our show.– Chris Dolnack

  • Kevin

    Are attendees allowed to hand out business cards? Or is this considered suitcasing?

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  • Nate

    Would the SHOT Show Organizers ever consider having the show at the McCormick Place in Chicago, IL? The McCormick Place has 2.6 million sq. ft. of hall space vs. the 1.8 million occupied by the Sands Expo. Dave Jeannette (Booth Sales Manager) mentioned to me yesterday that they have over 200 applications on the waiting list for the 2011 show. It just seems like it may be time to start looking for a larger venue that would accomodate the hundreds of companies that are willing to pay for valuable booth space.

    • Anonymous

      When we look at SHOT Show venues, Nate, we look for warm weather cities with a gun-friendly political and business climate. Unfortunately Chicago, while a great city, misses on both counts. A number of shows recently left the McCormick Place in protest of labor rates and work rules. This was recently resolved but again, not conducive to doing business. We have an agreement with the Sands Expo through the 2012 SHOT Show and are looking forward to improving the experience for our customers and guests. — Chris Dolnack

      • Nate

        That’s a good point Chris. I’ve been to machining trade shows at the McCormick Place before but for a moment I forgot about how anti-gun Chicago was. Oh well, I guess all we can do is hope that the 2013 show can be held at a larger facility.

  • Rich

    The choice of venue and more specifically the layout is poor at best. Typical of the organization to do what works best for them with rates versus the paying members. 2010 was a joke and this year will be worse — what about 2012. Another venue needs to be worked out. With the near “sold out” conditions, it would seem to make financial sense as well. Please listen to your customers and our customers.

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