Mike Feeney’s IHRSA Trade Show Strategy

Mike Feeney's Trade Show Strategy

From March 8-11, health and fitness professionals from across the globe will gather in Los Angeles, California, for the 2017 IHRSA International Trade Show.

At the show, attendees will have access to more than 350 vendors and manufacturers spanning categories such as equipment, certifications, fitness accessories and much more. As a result, the show can be overwhelming for even the most experienced trade show attendee. How do you maximize your time?

With this in mind, Mike Feeney, the executive vice president of New Evolution Ventures (NeV), shared his trade show strategy, which begins with reviewing the vendor list. “Make a plan,” he said. “Set meetings and live to your schedule. Base your meeting plan on where vendors are on the floor. You don’t want to set a meeting on one side of the hall and the next on the other side.”

Mike Feeney, EVP of NeV.

Feeney also advised to work the floor from left to right, or right to left. “I go through every aisle,” he said. “I do this multiple times.”

As he walks the floor, Feeney is sure to observe how people are interacting with certain vendors or pieces of equipment. “Stand outside a booth and watch what people do,” he said. “How do they get on a piece of equipment. Is it easy to operate or start? Tell sales people ‘no sales pitch. Don’t tell me how to use a piece of equipment.’ If you can’t figure it out, how do you expect your members to figure it out?”

Preparation is also key. “Come in workout attire. Get on it. Try it. Come back later and try it again. Trying a piece of cardio does not mean get on it for two minutes. If you really want to try a piece of cardio, do 15 to 20 minutes at a time,” he said. “Bring power bars or make sure you stop at a food booth. These are long days. Two full days is not enough time to do a good job.”

For Feeney, networking is also a must, in addition to having fun. “Talk to other club owners,” he added. “This is the one time of the year that you are going to see some of the smartest people in the club business. Take advantage of that. Make new friends. These are the people you will be able to call six month or a year from now and ask them a question.”

Additional Trade Show Tips from Mike Feeney

  • What do you get out of attending trade shows like IHRSA? Is it more about relationship-building, seeing all the products in one space — a mix of both? “Mix of both. Vendors always want to show new products or get you on products. So for me it is all about the products.”
  • How do you gauge if your trade show experience was successful? What do you hope to achieve? “Years ago I was told everyone is going to want to show us products and sell us products. If you look at 100 new or different items and only one is good — that is a win. You need to put the time in to find the products that are a value add to your members. So you need to look at everything.”
  • Do you ever make a purchase at a trade show like IHRSA, or do you typically wait till after the show, when you’ve had time to think about it? “Yes. I have made many purchases at IHRSA. Typically I know all the products before they get to the show. I am lucky enough to see most in the development stage.”
  • What are some red flags a new product or service is a gimmick? “Too much sales talk, too pushy, dancing girls and loud music. All are a distraction. Focus on the product and how it performs. How will my existing members enjoy and benefit from this? How will my trainers use this?”

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