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Exhibit Setups Will Change Again for Radio Show

Booths are back — as are ‘exhibits-only’ passes

Conference-planners have changes in mind for the exhibit area at the upcoming Radio Show put on by NAB and RAB this September.

They’re dropping the tabletop setups used at last year’s show in Washington and going back to booths.

Also, the exhibits will all be on one level again. Though most exhibits were on the lower level of the hotel last year, there was some larger exhibit/suite space one floor up from the tabletop area. Not all attendees were aware of this additional space, vendors told me, and indeed, when I was in those areas, traffic was sparse.

Organizers are keeping the new name “The Marketplace” for the exhibit area, and offering vendors booths ranging in size from 10×10 to 10×20 feet.

Last year’s fall show was the first since it reverted to a hotel format after years in larger convention centers, a move driven by smaller attendance trends during difficult economic times. About 1,800 people registered for the 2010 show, conference organizers said at the time. The 2011 show will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago Sept. 14–16.

NAB VP Communications Ann Marie Cumming tells me conference organizers are trying to drive traffic to the booths by holding super sessions and networking events there like coffee breaks and other meal events. Organizers also will bring back the exhibits-only pass for the radio show. Exhibitors will be given guest passes to distribute to customers, according to Cumming.

“We look forward to this year’s Radio Show in Chicago and are committed to making it the best possible experience for the radio community. NAB and RAB have taken into account feedback from exhibitors and attendees to enhance this year’s show,” said Cumming.

“By having exhibitor booths in the Marketplace and creating an integrated environment with super sessions and networking events, we expect increased interest in companies wanting to exhibit,” she told me.

The exhibitor feedback was pretty vocal at the end of last year’s show, with exhibitors venting to organizers about the squeezed space in the main exhibit area. Most vendors who spoke to me at that time felt the tabletops were too small and too tightly packed, giving suppliers little space for displays and customers little room to maneuver.

To be fair, NAB had already chosen the hotel before RAB joined it in co-hosting the convention in Washington. This year, they’ve been able to plan the show as a combined event all along.

At the end of the big meeting with the exhibitors last year, show organizers vowed this year’s show would be different.