Conference Overview: A few general things to keep in mind
- Don't Panic. Often the school members, and some advisors, are as afraid of you as you are of them. •Booths with an act showcasing will usually attract the most visitors (which means, if they are in your aisle . . . That’s great!! Good traffic for everyone!).
- Don’t Be Overly Aggressive; school members will not come by your booth if you try to grab them out of the aisles, try to come up with unique ways to attract attention to your booth.
- The first Campus Activities Marketplace is the most frantic - it settles down after that. Do not give out all your promo materials and giveaways the first one.
- There usually will be one very quiet Campus Activities Marketplace (It just always seems to work out this way).
- Bring any questions to the Associate Orientation, which is held on the first day of the conference. Watch the schedule for the location! If you miss that, be sure to ask your Associate Member reps any questions you may have. We’re here to help!
What to Bring To the Conference
This is just a general list. Feel free to bring what you anticipate you will need when talking about your act(s).
- Your promotional items
- Equipment on which to play/display those items
- Masking / Packing tape for sealing boxes (not for taping things to floors and walls)
- Scissors / Box cutter to open your boxes (Helpful hint - don't pack it in the boxes!)
- Stapler with extra staples
- Sharpies for signing pictures
- Clear/Scotch Tape
- Paper (Notebook/Pads)
- Some extra promotional material (bios, etc.) packed with you - in case the stuff you pre-ship doesn't arrive in a timely manner (better safe than sorry!)
- Aspirin/Pain Reliever of Your Choice
- Throat Lozenges / Breath Mints
- Hand Sanitizer (good to keep around when you are shaking hands with a lot of people)
What To Wear
This is not the kind of conference where business suits and formal outfits are required or expected. Dress for comfort. If that means a suit to you, well then go for it. The days are long ones and comfortable shoes are really a MUST, especially if you want to stay in good spirits. If you are a jeans and t-shirt kind of person, you are sure to find some kindred spirits here. In addition, the Campus Activities Marketplace can get a little warm, with all of those students and associates chatting away. Be prepared to "peel down" a layer or two.
What NOT to do at the Conference
- Giving out promotional materials outside of the Campus Activities Marketplace to any students or school members.
- Any illegal showcasing. Anyone other than those acts chosen by the conference showcase selection committee performing for school members in order to get work is against the rules.
- This includes advertising at the conference for an event outside of the conference (Example: A band is playing nearby at a local club. You cannot tell school members about this in order to encourage them to leave the conference & go see this other act. This is unfair to the other agents and artists who have paid to showcase).
- Having someone play in a room at the hotel or the lobby, and inviting school members to come hear it. This will get you in trouble.
- Parties. To Have, or Not to Have . . . Remember, MANY OF THESE SCHOOL MEMBERS ARE NOT YET 21. For them to consume alcohol, they and whoever serves them are breaking the law. The local police and hotel security will get called to break up any parties that are deemed "illegal." This puts you in a bad light for the advisors and other schools, so DO NOT make alcohol available to underage persons.
Other Things to Remember
You will be talking a great deal, hopefully. Stay hydrated. Get some sleep. The conference schedule starts early: 9:00 am for some educational sessions and ends around midnight-1:00 am. Naps can be wonderful!
The Campus Activites Marketplace
This is the area of the conference set up for associate member booth displays. It is the place, as at any trade show, where buyers come to inspect the merchandise of sellers. There are a few ideas that you can try to attract and keep school members in the Campus Activities Marketplace.
- Snacks / Candy (always popular – but make sure they are allowed in the marketplace for each conference – it varies from location to location.)
- Things that are easy to hand out and quick to eat are good. (NOTE: Non-sticky, non-messy items. Otherwise, booths may soon resemble the fairgrounds the morning after.)
- Toys / Giveaways (Not everything needs to be very costly - inexpensive stuff is great.)
- Your favorite promo items like press packages, t-shirts, buttons, hats, CDs & DVDs
Basic rule of thumb:
Think of a way to get the school members excited about your booth in as easy and quick a way as possible. Their first impression should be positive. Also, your neighbors will really appreciate your help in creating "good traffic" in your aisle.
This is up to you. Make your booth your own expression, and don’t worry about spending a ton of money (simple can be effective), but here are some common items:
- Lights (Small pin spots - like track lighting - nothing too bright) - make sure you’ve ordered and paid for electricity if you plan on bringing lights. Electricity must be requested and paid for separately on the form provided by the decorating company in the exhibitor kit.
- Carpet - The exhibit floor is probably not carpeted, but you are able to order carpet from the Decorating Company. Check the exhibitor kit you received which is generally sent out 8-10 weeks before the event starts.
- Dimensions - The dimensions of the booth are usually 10' x 10' but not always, so refer to your specific region's Associate Information page to be sure. There is an 8' high back drape, and 3' high side rail.
- Table & Chairs - You will also be provided with one 6-foot skirted table, two side chairs. (Our advice: don't sit behind the table. Put your table along the side or at the back of the booth.)
- Other Items - You will receive one sign, with your company name and booth number and one wastebasket. All associate members will receive an "Exhibitors Service & Rental Order From" in the exhibitor kit prior to the conference to order additional equipment and indicate your choice of table size. This will also include shipping information.
Booth Design Tip: Set up your booth before you come to the conference. See what it looks like when you approach it from both sides (left & right). There is always some question on booth height, etc. If you really are going to build something, please contact your region's Campus Activities Marketplace Coordinator. This contact info can be found in the email sent to you notifying you of your booth number(s). The Campus Activities Marketplace Coordinator will help you to not create something that will block your neighbor's view down the aisle. Exhibits may not exceed four feet in height within the first four feet of depth of the marketplace space. If your exhibit does not meet these specifications you will be asked to take it down.
Like Booth Design, this is up to you. If you feel that using a TV and DVD player is the best way to sell your act or product, by all means use it. Just use headphones or keep the volume low in respect of your neighbors. A reasonable level is loud enough to be heard only in your booth and keep your speakers pointed toward the aisle. You can rent TV/DVD equipment in advance from the Exhibitor Services Company or bring in your own, but just plan ahead as it will not be easy on-site. Security is provided at all times (the marketplace is locked when it is not "open for business.") However, we do suggest using common sense like storing some of your own, personal, really nice stuff under your table or take it with you when you are not there. NACA cannot guarantee the security of your items.
Again, you will only need a personal sound system (i.e. iPod, DVD player, etc.). No Large Speakers or Stage Sound Equipment.
Behavior in the Campus Activities Marketplace
Every school is different: private colleges, state four-year schools, two-year / community colleges; very rural settings and very urban settings; very assertive or more laid back; some are pros at this whole thing and some are brand new. What they tell us every year is they prefer when an agent/performer respects them and their space, especially in the Marketplace. Just follow the Golden Rule, and treat them as you would want to be treated. The more they see you as a person, not just as someone who wants to sell them something, the more likely they are to want to talk to you.
What NOT To Do in the Campus Activities Marketplace
Do not run out into the aisle and grab a school member/drag someone into your booth, especially if they are talking with another associate.
Don’t leave your booth unattended. Reasonable exceptions, of course: walking to the Block Booking Booth, the bathroom, etc.
Do not make it hard for your neighbors to conduct business. You may even find that being cordial and helpful to others makes you look better.
Do not try to have a long, extended conversation with another associate member. Everyone wants to be able to focus on business during the limited time you have in the hall. So please ask the "veteran" associates questions outside of the Campus Activities Marketplace, including if you want to give them your promotional materials.
Do not leave early. NACA is very serious about this. This will help keep the energy in the Campus Activities Marketplace and keep traffic in your booth. Anytime there is any empty booth in your aisle, it makes that aisle less attractive to school members.
Block Booking with NACA
The Block Booking process increases business opportunities by allowing associate members to gain exposure to a variety of additional markets while saving in touring costs because of the close proximity of performance dates to each other. Associate members are able to concentrate their marketing efforts by working directly with the campus program "decision-makers" in a relaxed, supportive and vibrant atmosphere while on-site at the conference. When an associate member books a date through Block Booking, the results are more logical routing, increased business volume and lower overhead in travel expenses. Block Booking is a direct and visible benefit of being an NACA member.
The Block Booking process helps illustrate the strength and importance of the college market in the entertainment industry and serves both showcasing and non-showcasing associate members as agents in the Campus Activities Marketplace represent thousands of acts on-site. Additionally, Block Booking helps increase communication and cooperation between schools and associate members.
Other Aspects of the Conference
Showcases: This is where you will see the acts chosen to perform by the showcase selection committee. They will be comedians, variety artists, acoustic musicians, bands, lecturers, etc. It is always good to see what the school members are enjoying, so you can better judge what they will think of YOU.
Educational Sessions: Read the descriptions in the conference program. Some are geared mainly at school members, some at staff, some at the associates. Many of these sessions, even if not directly aimed at you, will be on topics that interest you or impact your business. Please feel welcome to attend, learn, give your feedback and listen to the school members and staff. This organization focuses very heavily on creating a dialogue between buyers and sellers.
After the Conference
Do not stress out too hard and heavy if no solid dates are formulated at the conference. Most business is done after the conference. Some of the contacts you make here may lead to a booking six months, twelve months, two years from now. This market is about staying in for the long haul, not making a quick buck. Conferences function really well as a "meet and greet" experience. You give out info and get the names of school members interested in your work. Then through mailings, phone calls, faxes, e-mails and future advertising, you keep in touch with the school members. Many schools make decisions, as a committee, after the conference. Making a good impression on the delegation puts you in a better position for them to remember you after the fact. Patience and perseverance should be key elements of your strategy. The main goal of any trade show or conference is to increase business for your acts or services. As associates we all have that in common. If you use this document as a guide but still create your own style, you should have a positive experience at the NACA® Regional Conferences. See you on the road!