Dealer Expo: ‘What people need from the show has changed,' says Tracy Harris

Publish Date: 
Feb 15, 2013
By Dennis Johnson

DEALER EXPO, Indianapolis, Ind. -- As part of an effort to rebuild Dealer Expo 2014 into an event that fully reflects a changing marketplace, show management will be actively engaging dealers and exhibitors to find out exactly what they need out of a business-to-business event.

In launching the One Voice effort, the company is asking all of its customers to give their feedback and opinions via a variety of channels — through in-person interviews with Advanstar employees, video testimonials, a dedicated toll-free telephone number, e-mail, or even grabbing ahold of a company employee on the show floor. Advanstar is the parent of Dealer Expo and Dealernews.

The goal, says Senior VP Tracy Harris, is to fully understand what dealers and exhibitors want from Dealer Expo to make the next event, scheduled for September 2014, and those that follow an integral part of their annual sales and marketing plans.

“To me the most important thing we need to do right now is listen to our customers. In order for us to get back on track, we need to talk less, listen more and fully partner with the customers who are the reason Dealer Expo exists.” Harris said. “Our industry has changed. What people need from this show has changed. But, we’ve been somewhat slow to embrace that. That ends today.”

While the outreach program starts during this year’s show, the company is seeking insight into how the show can be more valuable for buyers and sellers over a 100-day period in which Harris and her team will meet face-to-face with customers across the country.

Harris explained that throughout the information-gathering process, show staff will share new Dealer Expo developments as they emerge. Following the 100-day period, the company will roll out plans for the September 2014 Expo.

One Voice is an aspect of a multi-pronged approach by Advanstar to improve relations with dealers and attendees who may have felt either ignored or left confused by past actions or encounters. One example of the latter was the recent announcement — and subsequent cancelation — of a second 2013 show. While the Fall timeframe was requested by many customers, the financial logistics of having two shows in one year were ultimately unworkable, said show management.

“There is no question that there is a level of distrust in the market about some of the decisions that we’ve made in the past,” Harris said. “The onus is on us. The responsibility is on us to do what we say, follow through on the commitments and the promises that we’re making and be willing to admit it when we make a mistake. That’s the only way to build on our history with the industry, and earn its trust for the future. (Continued)