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Case Study

Associated General Contractors of America’s Annual Convention


The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), a trade association with 28,000 member firms in the construction industry, had to decide if it should pull the plug on the Expo component of its Annual Convention. The shrinking event had a budget that was only 25% of what it had been just a few years before, and a dwindling core of dissatisfied exhibitors and unexcited attendees.

The AGC Annual Convention does not follow a consistent show format. AGC hosts a different size and shape convention each year over a three-year period, posing some unique challenges. PAI helped craft a strategic multi-year vision for the show, with a unique and innovative, yet appropriate, approach each year, with goals of delivering value to event stakeholders, restoring long-term trust and injecting new revenue growth. We married the aspirational with sell-ability by redesigning the floor plans to include innovative networking layouts, developing pricing and package structures, driving integrated marketing campaigns, and incorporating a virtual online floor plan as a vital component of the marketing and sales program.

In consultation with the AGC team and other event partners such as the general service contractor, an innovative all hard-wall “Pavilion” layout was developed. It included five main 16-foot high, themed “Pods.” Each horseshoe-shaped island featured exhibitors’ displays on the outside and a presentation theater inside. The themes corresponded with key industry market segments—Safety, Green Construction, Building Information Modeling (BIM), Executive Solutions, and Construction Innovations. Exhibitors loved the layout and the benefits of not having to ship and set-up their booths; and attendees loved the organized sector themed pods, and the open networking flow that included food and bar stations, as well as AGC’s Bookstore and Membership Booth.

The following AGC Convention in Palm Springs was held at a golf resort with only a small exhibit area available. To maximize value and achieve budget goals, an exclusive, 18-Hole Golf Theme emerged for the show. Using gamification, it featured 18 “Hole” exhibitors, each hosting a putting challenge that was built into their exhibit space. Attendees visited each hole, networked, and golfed around the show, having their scorecards stamped to be eligible for many great prizes. In addition, the exhibits included larger “anchor” exhibitors hosting a Long Drive competition, Swing Analyzer, and a “19th Hole Lounge” and smaller table-top display exhibitors.

We’ve incorporated an Online Floor Plan that serves as both an event management system and also as the public “store front,” enabling prospects to visit and order their space 24/7. The site is equipped with forms, and serves as a living and breathing online prospectus. AGC gets a real-time view of our sales progress, as well as built-in tools for show management, such as an Exhibitor/Customer Service Center, invoicing and reporting, e-blast and survey, registration, and company profile/logo collection for both online display and show directory/roster preparation.

For each of the AGC events, we served as the marketing strategist and campaign manager. We acted as an extension of the AGC team and together we planned a budget and executed targeted, timed, integrated, multi-pronged outreach campaigns incorporating key elements such as a mailed hardcopy prospectus, and email campaigns designed to create hot leads and to drive prospects to the show website. Over time, we built up a targeted prospect database supplemented by in-person leads often acquired by attending key industry events.

We provided consistent, consultative, professional sales horsepower for each event, delivering sold out exhibit halls and maximizing AGC’s revenue for every year of our partnership. Backed by the marketing, we made telemarketing calls to all the best-identified target prospects, often corresponding to the timing of the distribution of a mailing or email. “Warm calls” were conducted to target prospects after pre-call research was conducted. For key prospects, we held in-person meetings during industry events. “Closing,” prospecting for future events, relationship building, and prospect tracking were are all intertwined and integrated with a customer service approach.

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