Another trade show question

I live near the Dulles Expo which is a large facility that hosts all kinds of trade shows and expo shopping events. Gun shows, home shows, that kind of thing. I’m vending this weekend there as part of a pet products and activity show. I’ve noticed this before as an attendee and it’s still the case this weekend: why do home remodeling/ repair companies vend at a pet expo? People don’t go to a pet expo thinking hey I’ll go see if the bath fitters guys are there! They get NO sales.

There is a nice elderly lady working the booth across from mine this weekend selling gutters. She commented to me during a lull “it’s like people only want pet products”. :smack: she wondered aloud to me if her company had sold anything here before (not that I’d know) because she’s been bored out of her gourd.

So anybody know why they do that? Desperation?

Because they realize that if they show up at random expos, someone will start a thread with their name in it, earning them free advertising.

You are thinking of it as them using the trade show as an opportunity to gather leads. The company might be thinking of is as an opportunity to get rid of that lady for the weekend.

Yes, but, on the flip side, people don’t suddenly have no interest in remodeling their homes just because they’re at an unrelated event.

These are also high profit jobs–you can pay off the booth & then some with a single person who happens to want a remodel.

It’s not an uncommon thing–people set up at unrelated shows with the hope that some attendees are also in the category of potential customers.

Heck, colleges & universities exhibit at comic book & anime conventions because there’s crossover in demographics. Home repair is fairly universal.

I go to a lot of anime conventions, and have never seen a college or university exhibit at one.

Here’s an exhibitor list for the first one that came up when I Googled “anime convention exhibitor list”.

Booths 515, 516, 517, & 518 are held by “American University of Health Sciences”.

I’ve been to “home shows” where vendors were selling cell phone accessories and its rare I go to a show open to the public where you don’t see Cleaning Product, Broom or Squeegee Guy.
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I suspect this is the closest-to-correct answer (not that I know, or I wouldn’t have asked the question!). The companies might be high profit margin, but if they don’t bring in more than one or two leads for the whole weekend, I can’t imagine it being worth it. The booth space is expensive.

It’s interesting to work these things because you can chat with the other vendors to get a little glimpse of their business workings. The woman on one side of me seems to be handicapped (obese and walks with a cane) and supporting herself on just her shop because she said she’s been selling at expos for thirty years. Groaned about how they’re not as profitable as they used to be and that she lost $500 at the last one. I haven’t talked to the lady on the other side, because she’s barely there. But for some reason she bought a double space (which is over $1000) and left half of it completely empty. No idea what she hoped to accomplish.

Also some odd… business ideas. One couple created dog toys that are infused with dog anal scent, the idea being that dogs will want to play with them more. My reaction to that is… eww.

I attend a couple amusement related and sporting goods trade shows every year. What I have been told is that the companies don’t really care if they sell anything at the show; they are just looking to gather names and get their name out in public. In the past things like that actually did a lot of business (especially selling spas and hot tubs at farm shows for some reason) and there are the odd shows today where it really pays off with contracts started at the show. But it has become a traditional form of advertising like newspaper ads and having your name in a phone book and a lot of companies are just reluctant to abandon it.

Lots of businesses seem to subscribe to the belief that “Any crowd contains some prospects.”

Outside the entrance to our local Ren Faire (going on now) is a gauntlet of a dozen booths selling home improvements, water purifiers, etc. None of them are selling Ren Faire appropriate merchandise nor anything a Faire goer might want as a last minute real-world purchase like sunscreen, a hat, or bottled water.

I agree it’s jarring to see booths unrelated to the event’s theme. But it sure is commonplace. ISTM most of the business categories that do this are ones famous for hard sell and rip-offery. Like used car salesmen these industries have a reputation for BS and gamesmanship rather than solid service.

Most recently, we went to a motorcycle show. There was a guy selling hats - they were kinda neat, but he didn’t seem to be very busy. I think there was also a Massage Chair vendor - I suppose it’d be nice after a hard day riding.

We used to go to the Annapolis Sailboat Show every year, and there were always cars on display. And virtually every type of show we’ve attended (boat, car, RV, home & garden) has several booths of jewelry vendors. And art (framed and unframed prints.) And insurance. And home security firms. It must yield some return - otherwise, it’s a really bad business decision.

But to be fair, for construction companies, there just might be some business to be had there. Its always fun when friends get together who haven’t seen each other in a while, right?
The party is always over when something breaks though, isn’t it?

The point of remodeling/ repair companies being at Conventions and Cons is that… with some time, some effort (and the right homeowners insurance) it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to live with a broken house.
Also, who doesn’t like breaking new ground…? Why, its almost Patriotic.

As for the bath fitters guys, they serve an essential need as well. Some people who go to Comicons have kids and lets face it: kids can be hard on a bathroom.
You’re getting into dat tub, Young Man…! And you’re Not Getting Out until you’re Clean…!

I also submit to you that having an appropriately sized and styled bathroom isn’t just for families who have kids. Some people come home from work every day and are less than happy with their bathroom as it is.
Lets face it; Everybody likes to relax after a hard days work, right? Who wouldn’t love an hour or two away from the mundane for a long relaxing soak…?
With the right bathroom refit, That could be You…!

Time doesn’t always allow for that though. Still, almost anyone can feel just a little more refreshed after a nice long shower, right? The right customization can almost always help you to enjoy your home more.
There’s always cleaning to consider too. Keeping your bathroom clean can seem for some like a near constant battle. The right bathroom design can help you keep your bathroom cleaner longer.
Plus, with new financing options, you don’t have to break the bank.

Lastly, You’re not going to be the guy who tells people that they can’t make their house the home of their dreams, are you? /s

A lot of such shows are run by “showrunner organizations” that do nothing but book venues, sign up vendors and manage the traffic and advertising. I am pretty sure that vendors who do one stripe of show are solicited to buy booth space (or are given it as part of a package deal) for others of loosely associated type. Thus some relevant home-remodeling vendors at a pet show, travel agencies at a bridal fair, specialty food vendors at gun shows, etc.

I have worked several sides of the field and can’t remember anything about cross-selling space from the time I worked inside the show host org (a magazine trade group), but I know that I’ve never booked a booth for a business-services type event without being pestered for years to sign up for all kinds of other shows, including completely inappropriate ones (doll shows, RV shows). One local idiot wanted me to provide about $1500 in free signage in exchange for a booth at a health expo. Riiiiiighhhht.

Farmers like spas and hot tubs too.

They may offer to take unrented space at a discount.

My area also has people who sell baked goods, candy, jerky, handspun alpaca yarn, etc.

It’d ultimately come down to what kind of jobs they land vs how much it costs to be there.

It’s not necessarily a good plan, but, depending on how they handle things, it could make sense for them.

If it doesn’t work out, show/expo exhibitors generally cut their losses and don’t reregister at future events, so if the same company is there show after show, it’s either working out for them or they aren’t too bright.

I wonder how many booth spaces are all but given away by the show organizer and meantime the office workers staffing the booth are simply told they’ll be working this weekend for no overtime since they’re “exempt”. It’s certainly been done to me in years gone by.

Bottom line being that after the business buys their first banner and orders 1000 tchotchkes with their name, url, etc., on 'em the marginal cost of attending any given show may be about $0.