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What is the ROI of Attending a Trade Show? Asking for a Friend.

Trade show organizers (present company included) have a tendency to lean heavy on anecdotal buzzwords: “networking!” “new products!” “education!” These are all legit value propositions for live events on the surface but can be empty calories without any metrics or validation. These promises give us comfort, and even excite and compel us—I know as past exhibitor and attendee—but what is the actual substance? What’s being offered, promised and ultimately sold? I can’t speak for the other 24,999 events that take place globally (thinking back to non-COVID years), but sit down and strap in as we take a GlassBuild deep dive. Let’s cut through the trade show noise and expose the core of the show, and why the folks that “get it” continue to show up. The answers might surprise you.

1. Products

Here’s a good differentiator: GlassBuild represents the largest showroom in North America. How big, you ask? GlassBuild fills 187,000 square feet of show floor boasting 400 exhibitors* displaying over 3 million pounds of the latest products, equipment and machinery. It’s all about scale. GlassBuild exhibitors go big and bring real products for all the hands-on tinkering, tire-kicking, demos and durability tests you can imagine. From the finest articulations and finishes to the most robust heft and capacity, certain and important details simply don’t translate in print or pixels. In the current “wild west” climate of material shortages, strengthening your supply chain with plan Bs and Cs is critical now more than ever. 

GlassBuild also happens to be the primary launch pad for our industry’s innovation. Did you know that most GlassBuild exhibitors launch new products at the show? This means there’s a good chance the next new and better thing that’s going to save you time, make you money or make you better is going to be in Atlanta this September. We just made your life easier by putting them all under one roof at the largest glass and fenestration show in North America—and potentially the world in 2021.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Nick Bagatelos, president of Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems (who’s LinkedIn handle simply states “Innovation. Innovation. Innovation,” who was one of our industry’s earliest adopters of BIM and performance modeling, and who retrofitted his 1969 manufacturing facility to be a zero net energy (ZNE) building!) puts it succinctly: “I like GlassBuild because I get to see the next generation of technology.” Boom.

2. People

The same logic applies to that coveted ‘energy’ of a room. In-person exchanges provide a sense of connection and trust that is difficult to replicate via video. Research shows that face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than those sent by email. And that a physical handshake (fist bumps allowed) promotes cooperation and influences negotiation outcomes for the better. This is according to MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab, not me. The results showed unequivocally that the most valuable communication is done in person. If MIT doesn’t convince you, Steve Dillon, corporate marketing director at Veka, Inc., adds this perspective: “I’ve met so many incredible people throughout my 25 years in the industry, and 70% of them were met at GlassBuild.”

3. Why We’re Really Here [Priorities]

If game-changing products and services and authentic people connections don’t move the needle for you, strip it down to GlassBuild’s core: it’s all about buying and selling, face-to-face business, on the trade show floor. It’s always been about business. Not only the transactions (we like those), but the long-term business relationships that are discovered, salvaged or strengthened. In past lives, I have landed projects on the show floor. I’ve written actual purchase orders on the show floor. I’ve secured new vendors and partners from planned introductions and chance run-ins on the show floor. Heck, I shook hands with Nicole Harris, president of NGA, landing my current gig on the show floor. It is a bustling hub of the commerce we’re all chasing. We also get to have fun and reconnect while we’re at it.

“But isn’t that just more anecdotal hearsay, Andrew?” Well chew on this: The median GlassBuild buyer spends $112,500 on machinery, products and/or supplies they saw at the show. That’s not me waxing nostalgic, those are bona fide stats from people just like you that attended GlassBuild. Might even be your competitors.  

Back to Business. Back to GlassBuild.

Make no mistake. You’ll still find all of the networking and education catnip you can imagine at GlassBuild. But when you peel back the layers of show jargon and expose that sweet, Tootsie Pop center of what makes our world go ‘round, we’re in the business of finding the things and people that make us better, more competitive and more profitable. Those mission critical ingredients are at GlassBuild—more so than anywhere I’ve seen in my stint in this amazing industry.

Last year made us all drop the ball; GlassBuild is here to help us pick it back up. Brighter days are ahead, friends, and we can’t wait to get back together again—cheering an industry that’s better and stronger than the way we left it in 2020. So, let’s rally. Cut the dead limbs of 2020 and equip ourselves for success this year and beyond. I officially propose we retire the exhausted “we’re in this together,” and instead posit “we’re getting out of this together,” getting back to business, back to normal(ish), and back to GlassBuild.

By the way, GlassBuild registration is now open. Register now.

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