‘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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