Convention Crashing or Smart Business

A couple weeks ago I came across an interesting article in the NY Times about outboarding, or more commonly referred as convention crashing.  This is basically where companies take advantage of the traffic generated by trade shows by marketing themselves in a nearby hotel or meeting space.  By doing so they avoid the costly expense of purchasing floor space, exhibit properties, show services, etc.  Most of the people interviewed in the NY Times article made no effort to conceal their nasty feelings about outboarders (Please note that my intention with this blog isn’t to endorse any particular belief over another).

Why I find this subject so interesting is because of the timing.  I recently got back from a trip to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, where one of the biggest players in mobile technology, Nokia, shifted its trade show strategy and hosted its own private event in a facility that was a few blocks from the convention center.  Before you go forming opinions about this understand that Nokia was at the show just not in the traditional sense of that many were accustomed to, with a presence in Halls 6 and 8.  You can read how they addressed this issue in a February 14 post to Nokia Conversations, its official blog site. There is also a great video below where its event manager explains that Nokia’s shift was in response to its needs outgrowing the ability of the convention center.

I happen to agree with their move because from our side of the business, it makes sense and doesn’t cut our side out from the game. It’s an event, you still need a design team, planners, catering, etc. to make it successful.  And Nokia puts on a great show — one that I admittedly would love to be apart of somehow.

On the other side of the outboarding argument, I can understand how the association and other exhibitors would take an issue with this type of a strategy. I guess what I’d like to hear are your opinions on the subject.  Do a little research on the Nokia example and tell me whether you think what they did was just good business or if it falls under the category of crashing.

Do you even find this subject interesting?

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