Q&A with Lynn White of IHMRS


Sales Manager of Restaurant Products & Services at IHMRS

What brought you into show management?

It was purely by chance. I had a friend who was working for a trade show management company and during one summer they were looking for some help. A full-time position opened up, they offered it to me, and I fell into the industry.

When you began with the IHM&RS show, what were the needs of the exhibitors?

They were very similar to the ones today. Exhibitors are looking to grow their business. They want to be part of a cohesive marketplace that focuses on hospitality now and hospitality moving forward as it’s changing and evolving every year. They want to be part of an event where they know there’s a diverse audience and that audience comes to see products, designs, trends, and services. IHM&RS provides this.

As you look at the opportunity to come back and do it again, what really brought you back? What can you bring to potential exhibitors?

It was a chance thing again. I would say, though, that I always enjoyed being part of the show having worked on it for five years. I had great rapport with the exhibitors, loved the products at the show, and liked the design focus the show offers. The attendees who come are quite interesting, representing so many different facets of the industry itself. It’s very fast-paced, and I just enjoy working in hospitality. When the position opened up, here I am again.

How has the role of the show changed with social media and the internet? Can it reinforce how important the show is?

Both are great tools we can’t live without. They do and should serve a role in any company’s marketing strategy. For us, the show is once a year for three days but our website now extends our show 365/24/7, access all the time for everyone. Exhibitors can use the tools on the site to market their participation in the show.

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One example we offer to exhibitors is our online listing that is live all the time, which allows attendees to find them and contact them directly, go directly to their website where they can see a complete company profile, publish press releases through us, and highlight new product introductions through a product gallery we offer – anywhere, any time.

The show is offering things to exhibitors to get them engaged and get their messages out there. We have strong social media campaigns, we’re active, we use them strategically to promote the show, everything that’s happening at the show, as well as news about the exhibitors. But nothing really replaces being at the show, where you see products up close, live demonstrations, networking, and all those important marketing interactions that can only be accomplished by actually being at the show.

As you look at all the other industry shows, why is a trip to IHM&RS as an exhibitor or attendee vital and still relevant?

I consider us a one-stop shopping experience. We cater to both foodservice and lodging, and that makes us unique as it relates to other shows in the marketplace. Our show is comprehensive in terms of the products and services offered because we are catering to both sides. For foodservice, we do attract the end user, but we also cater to the dealer and consultant and those are two very important groups within the industry and having them at the show gives us added value.
For new exhibitors, of course, you have to have a great product, but it’s only as good as your ability to create distribution in the marketplace, connect with those contact points, with reps and dealerships and consultants to be able to build your name within the trade. The show can do that, too.

The show has always had strong educational programs. What types of programs will we see this year?

We’re in the beginning stages of planning this component. The programming was very robust last year and that’s in our plan for 2015. This is another reason people value the show. You can come and get that education, whether you’re an exhibitor or attendee. Stay tuned!

What can showgoers expect to see on the floor this year?

You’re going to see established companies looking at innovation, giving more for their clients to see. We will have new exhibits that means new product offerings, new ideas as related to business solutions, strong programming. We had some exciting experiential components last year and we want to continue with that.

How can an exhibitor project ROI on show investment?

Exhibitors who do best at shows and get the best ROI are those who don’t just show up, but make a connection, a contact. Any connection you make at the show is vital to measuring the success of that show. You have to make an actionable marketing plan with consistent messaging and deliver that through as many channels as your budget allows – PR, online advertising, whatever you can do to get your message out there. Then an exhibitor needs to take advantage of the suggestions offered by show managers to gain visibility at the show, to get your message out prior to the show, most offered at no cost. You also have to connect with the media. They’re advocates for our industry. Use them to get your message out there. Be involved and engaged while at the show, and follow up, follow up, then follow up again. It’s all about making those contacts.

Has the profile of the show’s attendees changed?

The profile of attendees is really evolving. They’re savvier and savvier every year and want more out of their trade show participation. Again, the main reason they’re coming is to see new proud introductions and take advantage of our educational and experiential components. But they’re there most of all to network, to see if there’s any potential for new partnerships, to make sure they’re on top of what’s happening in their industry. That’s why trade shows are and will remain relevant. These are the reasons people want to be there. They’re a very savvy group looking for information.

How can exhibitors and attendees reach you?

Call 212-754-7938, email me lynn.white@stmediagroup.com, or go to www.ihmrs.com and click on exhibits.