From the Field – Whatever Happened to the Free Beer!?!

CIFM needs either a tie-in with a specific organization’s annual meeting, or a more specific focus than just facility maintenance as a whole. It needs to develop a personality. It needs something else, something that will make it worth the time to attend. So again I say: Whatever happened to the free beer!?!

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Yesterday, October 30, 2012, I attended the Carolina Industrial and Facility Maintenance Show (CIFM) in Greenville, SC. This is a show I’ve attended every year since being hired by CRT, but our company has yet to exhibit.

Each year I return to the show, scouting it you might say, to determine if our company should exhibit. I highly recommend a company scout out potential opportunities, to research potential advertising channels and trade shows. Why invest a large portion of your budget without some first-hand-knowledge?

I feel the show has been moving in the right direction as of late. It is a small show, with around 50 exhibitors and 300 attendees. In the past it was spread over two days, but this year it was only one day, which made much more sense considering the turnout and costs involved. However, not all changes from previous years are as welcome.

Whatever happened to the free beer!?!

I had planned on CRT exhibiting this year, but changes in my marketing plan and personnel put this show on the back burner. Given what I saw, that may have been a good thing. It’s not that the show doesn’t have potential, but I think it lacks personality.

I have been to both large and small shows, and while numbers certainly increase conversations, a show with personality really increases success. Talking to people at the show, I know that 5 years ago, a facility management group had close ties to the event, tying it in with their association.

While this built-in crowd only increased numbers a couple of hundred, it gave the show a persona because it meant something to the attendees and everyone knew everyone. At shows that mean something and where everyone knows everyone, it is sort of like a family reunion, full of laughter and memories. The attendees know each other, the exhibitors know the attendees, and it becomes a big happy get-together.

Frankly, CIFM is a little dull. No one talks to each other, and attendees are trying to avoid eye contact with exhibitors who look desperate. A good organizational tie-in is needed, and I don’t mean an event sponsor that doesn’t even show up to man their booth. I’m talking about you IFMA Upstate Chapter.

CIFM needs either a tie-in with a specific organization’s annual meeting, or a more specific focus than just facility maintenance as a whole. It needs to develop a personality. It needs something else, something that will make it worth the time to attend. So again I say:

Whatever happened to the free beer!?!

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