With the growing number of aviation tradeshows to select from each year, it becomes impossible to attend all. How do you determine which to skip?All tradeshows require investment. Consider your ROI when looking at the costs of attending and exhibiting at aviation tradeshows.

The cost of each show varies, but all demand a significant investment of resources. Both in hard costs and in people power. The average fabrication cost of a booth at larger shows is around $160 per square foot. And that doesn’t include the booth space fees. Or the creative development. Or staffing.

Don’t get me wrong. We are advocates of tradeshows. The networking they provide delivers one of the highest returns on investment in business aviation. But in an environment where we are all being asked to justify the bottom line, you have to be sure the tradeshows you’re considering draw your current and potential customers. Customers, too, are getting overwhelmed with the number of shows and are making the same ROI decisions about which to attend.

What to Ask When Determining Tradeshow ROI

  1. What is the overarching goal you are trying to accomplish by exhibiting? There are many reasons to attend: brand awareness, connecting with specific prospects or clients, launching a product, supporting an existing partnership, generating leads, solidifying existing leads. Knowing which is most important can dictate which show best delivers.

  2. Do you have the staff to support the event properly without taking away from other company initiatives? Account for the cost of prep hours, set-up time, staff for the booth and show follow-up. It adds up.

  3. What do you know about the target market that attends the show? Ensure it aligns To exhibit at an aviation tradeshow or not exhibit at an aviation tradeshow. Check your ROI.with your key prospects for business development.

  4. If two shows are close together, would you get more ROI if you focus on one versus splitting your efforts on both?

  5. If this is a show you attend annually, what’s your booth attendance been like over the last three years? Evaluate you traffic – an increase, decrease, same – to identify shifts that may be taking place.

  6. What’s the quality of your booth attendance over the past three years? You care about more than quantity. Consider whether you’re talking more to vendors than to high-quality prospective buyers of your product or service. And think about how many leads you’re converting to actual new business.

  7. Could you accomplish the same goal by having a presence, but sending a smaller group of staff and/or scaling down your booth?

  8. Have you directly asked your sales staff what tools or strategic changes you could make in your booth to provide better returns for them? The more marketing and sales talk, the better.

  9. Are there any shows that could be replaced with an alternative event where you don’t have to share attention with so many others (i.e. all the other exhibitors)?

  10. How are you tracking tradeshow ROI after the event? Ensure you have an action plan for the leads you generate and that you have the capacity to properly handle follow up.

If In Doubt, Lean Toward Attending

These questions offer a starting point for discussion. I hope they prompt some rigorous debate. NBAA 2015 is now only 16 weeks away. So as you plan, consider what efforts would produce the greatest ROI. There’s still time to adjust.

This column ran in the July 30 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.