Survey Says...

Over the last few days I’ve been reading exhibitor surveys and have found that many of us complete them for the same reasons. Either we had a really good experience or a really unpleasant one. I read hundreds of comments and to be honest there wasn’t much feedback saying, “Things were just fine.” My colleagues and I take it upon ourselves to listen to feedback so that we can understand how to improve service, and I take a personal interest in the feedback because there is always something to learn.

Here are five things I discovered after my night full of reading:

1) One man’s help is another’s harassment.  There were plenty of surveys that called out individual GES employees for their availability, assistance and knowledge,  as well as citing particular tools, like “…very appreciative of the online chat feature.”  However, another commented, “…too much contact from GES.” Not everyone defines service in the same way.

Lesson learned: Take cues from exhibitors on what works for them.

2) Giving new meaning to the term “full service provider,” there are a lot of exhibitors who think we control everything.  Comments included “Bathrooms were very dirty,” “We were not in the show program,” “Security was rude,” and “My booth was located in the worst possible space in the convention center.”  My personal favorite is a toss-up between “Can we please have dogs allowed at the next expo?” and “My only complaint was a giant cockroach in the aisle.”

Lesson learned: Regardless of whether we are “in control” of an activity or not, a positive exhibitor experience is mission critical. We can all pick up a paper towel that didn’t quite make it to the bin.

3) I’m reminded that many exhibitors are new to our unusual and complicated business when I read comments like this:  “The immediate rolling of carpet made tear down very difficult – it seemed a bit rude to block in exhibitors with carts, forklifts and enormous rolls of carpet.”    The educational opportunities abound!  On the other hand, new exhibitors may see things with great clarity, like “You really need to put the service center in the center of the building.”

Lesson learned: Take time every day to see things from the perspective of a first-timer.

4) While reading the surveys, the global nature of our business was apparent, as exhibitors urged that we “…get more reps who speak Spanish,” and that “…8’ curtains are horrible, 10’ curtains would be preferable” (probably an exhibitor used to a European shell scheme).

Lesson learned: Adapt business to our global reality.

5) There were also heartwarming comments and stories.  For example, one San Diego exhibitor said, “My wallet had fallen out of my bag and I didn’t know it – one of your workers found it and returned it to me.”  Another said “Everyone seemed to go out of their way to help us.”  And an exhibitor graciously commented, “Lovely set up, clearly marked, great schedule.  Other events pale in your shadow!”

Lesson learned: People won’t remember what you say, but they always remember how you make them feel.

No matter what the feedback is, we’ll keep listening, learning and trying! How do you use feedback from your customers in everyday business? Share your ideas on our Facebook wall!

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