“Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies,” it’s South Atlantic Jubilee time! Neil Diamond’s 1969 song could just as well have been talking about the great drilling event held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. From the years of manning a booth at this trade show, I can verify that these lyrics describe the crowds at this venue.
I made my first trip to “the Beach” in the late 1970s. I attended frequently in the ’80s and ’90s. From 2003 until my retirement a couple years ago, we joined the ranks of the exhibitors. I congratulate the Jubilee’s show managers for decisions that permitted the show to morph along with the changing industry. The ever-changing board of directors has the difficult job of meeting the demands of both exhibitors and attendees.
Exhibitors want a return on investment: a steady stream of active, meaningful people on the tradeshow floor and at their seminars. Attendees want the educational experience found on the floor or in seminars. But, let’s be honest, this is a family event where a majority of attendees combine the Jubilee with family vacation time. Children, spouses and even grandparents carouse the tradeshow floor. As an exhibitor, you can try to limit booth visits to only “decision-makers,” but I suggest you embrace the family aspect and welcome all.
When we exhibited at the Jubilee, we made it about the kids. Although our backdrop was all business related, my wife and business partner, Randy, augmented our booth. We had giveaways for children, along with our more adult-oriented ones. We raffled off prizes for the kids. The net result? This approach likely brought in more decision-makers than sticking to business. While the kids fill out entry tickets, the adults were left standing by — open targets for me to strike up conversations. One year, we had SpongeBob stickers. We watched a burly well driller dig through them with his two young daughters only to shout, “I found Patrick!” Don’t forget: The children you treat well now may become the decision-maker in the near future.
I attended as a seller, but always tried to consider the attendee point of view. Sure, I wanted the opportunity to speak face-to-face with current and potential customers. But I also wanted to get a feel for the current and near future market. I wanted to seek out my competitors for their perspective and scope out their exhibits. Attending provided so much current value while also planting seeds for future business.
As an exhibitor, we strived to get people to stop by our booth. As for Jubilee management, their job is to provide the traffic in the aisles so we can draw them in. As an attendee, it is your responsibility to take advantage of what the Jubilee offers. It is the Jubilee’s job to provide a slate of speakers and exhibitors of importance and interest to attendees. This is not much different from publishing a trade journal like The Driller: To get advertisers to place ads, readership numbers matter. To get better readership, the publisher seeks out better content.
The Jubilee has grown into so much more than a regional trade show. It not only attracts drillers from the Southeastern U.S., but from all 50 states and many countries. I estimate about 25% of our Jubilee-derived business was actually export.
The Jubilee has grown into so much more than a regional trade show. It not only attracts drillers from the Southeastern U.S., but from all 50 states and many countries. I estimate about 25% of our Jubilee-derived business was actually export. The show also attracts exhibitors from beyond U.S. borders, giving drillers exposure to products from around the world.
Obviously, the South Atlantic Jubilee ranks as one of my favorite trade shows. We would pack our car or truck with our display and head out Friday night to arrive Saturday morning in order to have an extra day at the beach. We would meet Susie and Dorris Givens at the Captains Table for breakfast on Sunday before heading to the convention center for setup. The Beach became much more than a trade show. It was also a relaxing vacation with no shortage of interesting things to do. It was a place to meet up with friends. For us, eventually the tradeshow became less of a business destination and became more of a reunion at the shore that happened to have a tradeshow going on nearby.