Superintendent Magazine - January, 2013


Spicing Up the Show

The trade show floor could use a little more moxie. Live entertainment and carnival games anyone?
By Ron Furlong

At last year's Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Las Vegas, I remember sitting on a bench outside the trade show floor and taking a break. I was checking the cellphone, having coffee, and then my mind started to wander. I remember looking up and having the strangest daydream strike me.

In the daydream, I was walking through the trade show, but suddenly everyone broke out in song and dance. It was a great choreographed moment that, apparently, everyone was in on but me. Club Car salespeople swung their arms and moved in unison. Toro vendors danced like the Rockettes, legs soaring high into the air. Simplot reps sang loud and true, their voices soaring up into the enormous hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

It was a strange moment, to say the least. But it was also a nice reprieve, a way to, for the briefest of moments, lighten the atmosphere of the otherwise serious, down-to-business trade show.

Don't get me wrong, the GIS trade show is, for the most part, exactly what it needs to be. We don't need sales reps singing and dancing. No offense to them - I'm sure they'd do a great job at this if we needed them to.

But the daydream did leave me the feeling that maybe we need a little something more from the trade show. Maybe a little more, I don't know, entertainment. Something to break up the monotony of what can be an extremely long day or two.

I should point out that last year I did break up my mornings at the show by spending an hour each day in a truly legendary line at the convention center Starbucks, all for the sake of a vanilla latte that I simply refuse to do without (must be the Seattle dude in me).

But this isn't really what I have in mind when I speak of breaking up the monotony.

So, you may ask, what is it I have in mind, exactly? Without letting my imagination run too far off into Never Never Land, I've come up with five ways that the GIS powers that be could spice up the show a little ... you know, give us a little diversion here and there.

Although these suggestions are going to be too late for San Diego, maybe we can get them into the Orlando show in 2014. I'm just sayin' ...

Live entertainment

I'm thinking a full-blown rock band might be a little annoying when trying to hear about the latest walk-mowing innovations or the newest breakthroughs in organic fungicides, but what about a dude and a guitar? Or a piano bar? Maybe a cello? My favorite part about walking through Seattle's Pike Place Market is the musicians on every corner. It's a regular potpourri for the ears. And you can't go wrong with a magician or a mime, am I right? Be kind of cool to have that same kind of atmosphere at the trade show.

Carnival games

Keeping with this new, less stuffy ambiance, what about an aisle or two dedicated to some challenging games? But instead of the type of games you might find at a fair or carnival, how about some golf-related game stands? Try to cut a perfectly straight cup. Fix as many ball marks as you can in 30 seconds. Hit a straight drive 300 yards on a virtual range.

Mobile food

"Get your hot dogs!" Or, better yet, "Hot lattes! Get your hot lattes!" Not sure if we'd want these vendors to be toting alcohol around or not. Any thoughts?

15 minutes of fame

They say everybody gets their 15 minutes of fame, right? So why not every vendor at the show as well? I don't know how many booths there actually are at the show this year, but what if you dedicated about 15 minutes of time to highlighting each and every vendor? Kind of like a blue-light special at a department store. Heck, you could even have a blue light shining on the booth for the 15 minutes. Give them a mic and put them up on video screens around the hall. Each vendor could use the time however they wanted to: sales promotions, meet and greets, staff introductions, talk about the product line, whatever. Kind of a fun way for everybody, no matter what their size, to have their moment in the sun.

Dancing heads

That's right, I said dancing heads. What I'm referring to here is the interactive videos that superimpose your head onto an animated dancing body while you sing and dance along, or just nod if you're a bit reserved. They are hilarious and are sure to be a big hit. What better way to break up the day than seeing your head atop an animated body builder and singing along to "Moves Like Jagger?"

OK, so there you go. And now you know why I don't now, nor will I ever, have anything to do with setting up the GIS trade show. Better leave it to the experts.

But, my point here is, it can't hurt to start thinking of ways to spice this thing up a little, right? A trade show is an important tool, both for the attendees and the vendors. This is serious stuff, and for many a lot is riding on the success of how they do at the trade show, whether on the buying or selling end.

However, you also have to remember we're dealing with human beings here, and all humans need a little diversion of some sort. No one wants to take anything too seriously. People want to laugh. People want to have a good time. People want something to engage them, and the more engaged they are, the more likely they are to be open to the things a trade show is ultimately trying to deliver in the first place.

So bring on the dancing heads.

Furlong, a senior writer and monthly columnist for Superintendent magazine, is the golf course superintendent at Avalon Golf Club in Burlington, Wash. He can be reached at


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