Attack of the Budget Booths

Budget tightening, like corsetry, often takes the bulge out of one place in order to pop it up somewhere else. In hopes that more money will bust out in their operating budgets, many telecom companies are cinching up their tradeshow marketing budgets.

"All the marketing and image making may not help a company if it doesn't have revenues," says Linda Xiao, a spokeswoman for Alidian Networks Inc.

At Supercomm 2002, some large companies, such as, Marconi plc (Nasdaq/London: MONI) ditched the tradeshow exhibition route altogether. The same thing is happening at the ITU Telecom World 2003 conference in Geneva (see Alcatel, Germany Shun Telecom 2003). While the no-show companies do save money, they also give up the main benefit of being at a tradeshow: visibility.

There is a less drastic course. With NFOEC just around the corner, it's worth taking a look at some ways that companies have backed away from the full-fledged, custom-made booth that typically costs around $100,000 per show to ship, store, set up, and tear down.

Alidian embodies one trend in the world of telecom tradeshow stands. In 2001, it used a refurbished booth that used to belong to Chromatis Networks, the startup that Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) bought. After a fresh coat of paint and some new posters, using the old Chromatis stand cost Alidian about $20,000, a huge savings over buying a bespoke booth.

During its 2002 tradeshow stops, Alidian has again saved money by sharing space with a business partner. Alidian will not exhibit at all at NFOEC, opting instead to appear at the megashows such as Supercomm.

Polaris Networks says it's also using a refurbished booth to save several thousand dollars. A booth-building company, of course, encouraged Polaris to buy a custom stand, but the startup instead pondered purchasing the well seasoned Chromatis kiosk from Alidian, according to Sab Gosal, Polaris's director of product marketing. Realizing it might lose the business, the booth builder quickly found a refurbished unit in its warehouse that fit Polaris's needs.

Enavis Networks Ltd. is taking yet another approach to tradeshow exhibiting. For NFOEC, it has hired a professional landscaper to build a New Orleans-inspired garden courtyard replete with potted plants, shrubbery, cobblestone accents, and patio tables with umbrellas (with perhaps a drunken fat guy passed out in the corner).

"We normally spend about $100,000 to move and store a custom-built booth," says Paul Ellett, Enavis's VP and general manager for North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean. "This time we're spending around $30,000 per show."

When NFOEC is over, Enavis says it will gather up the wood, plants, and other materials used and donate them to the Dallas-area Habitat for Humanity.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
C-teknik 12/4/2012 | 9:48:36 PM
re: Attack of the Budget Booths This is my first post on LR, so be gentle...

How many times have we attended a Trade Show where some Vendor spares no cost to make a big splash, and they really offer nothing that is going to make a big difference to the majority of us...

Enavis has got it right, they certainly will get noticed with their "professional landscaped New Orleans-inspired garden courtyard" (A+ for Martketing), have reduced their Booth cost by $70,000 (A+ for keeping down CapEx), and plan to donate it all afterwards to a worthy cause like Habitat for Humanity (Priceless)...

What a brillant idea!!!

I hope that other Marketing Managers follow suit, and that the next Trade Show we all attend is less about self glorification...

Let's not forget that if the Product doesn't offer a clear differentiator, no amount of window dressing is going to hide its limitations...

Thank you Enavis...
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 9:48:30 PM
re: Attack of the Budget Booths Certan companies such as Bell Labs and Nortel had no product misrepresentation policies. In fact, one could potentially be fired from his/her position for violating this very basic principle. Similarly it was a no no to steal product ideas and technologies. Then came mid 1980ies and many companies on the west coast stared to make exactly identical products with nothing new to offer. Hundreds of companies sprang up over night. The high tech industry became like a cottage industry similar to making carpets in Iran. Thisphenomenon practically stopped innovation but the flow of VC company continued to overflood the industry. We are facing a terrible price for these excesses.
Titanic Optics 12/4/2012 | 9:48:10 PM
re: Attack of the Budget Booths My vote is Lightscape Networks at OFC2001, for the "Rockettes" who passed out drink coupons at the official Wednesday night OFC party.
Titanic Optics 12/4/2012 | 9:48:10 PM
re: Attack of the Budget Booths Our shows (NFOEC, OFC, ECOC) have never been very much for booth babes, and given the cutbacks it looks even less likely we'll see very many booth babes. Sigh...

Which company had the best booth babes (if any) in the past?
freethinker 12/4/2012 | 9:46:41 PM
re: Attack of the Budget Booths Best BBs ever? No contest - Phobos at N+I2000.

The hard part (well, one of them) is trying to explain how a company from Salt Lake City could cop the prize.

Sign In