Lessons Learned From The LCT Show That Could

Sara Eastwood
Posted on December 1, 2015

Last month, LCT and the NLA hosted a trade show at Harrah’s Atlantic City that targeted the vast East Coast slice of the industry. We set a goal to have 1,000 attendees come to our third annual LCT-NLA Show East. While we faced many obstacles, we wholeheartedly believed in what we were doing.

Our aim was to bring our first class education and networking opportunities to operators who cannot make the trek to our international trade show in Las Vegas, and to support our advertisers who supply products and services to our Eastern Seaboard audience. Despite the odds, we set out on a relentless pursuit to get closer to our friends, some of whom we see only once a year.

Furthermore, we are committed to bringing sales leads and connections to our supplier clients. Part of what makes our world go ‘round is keeping the industry healthy. You must have reasons to buy and you must have enough faith in your company and your industry to feel confident investing in your businesses. Our shows make commerce economical.

We did this without much support. A core group of our clients exhibited at our show, but the number was less than half of the suppliers we host at the International LCT Show in Las Vegas. While we had the backing of the National Limousine Association, plenty of members thought Atlantic City was a bad idea. Our competitor hosted a show in Miami Beach two weeks before ours, where we usually host our Leadership Summit each spring. We could all agree that from a destination standpoint, Miami Beach is much sexier than Atlantic City, N.J.

We booked a new conference center just completed in September, which made it difficult to describe and forced us to use the marketing mantra: “Seeing is Believing.” We had to make a big business gamble on a venue before it even broke ground!

We had to block that out and pay attention to our goal to produce a chip off the old block and have a Tristate-Area-centric show. Atlantic City is actually quite popular in that part of the country. It’s a hot weekend escape, the Jersey Shore is a popular destination for vacationers, and believe it or not, the city has great golf courses!

Nevertheless, by mid-August the NLA began to ask for our pre-registration numbers, but we had no numbers to give them! Nerves began to fray as our committed exhibitors and NLA partners worried about attendance, my staff got distracted by the ugly remarks and gossip spread by people with agendas, and I struggled to keep everyone focused on the end game.

My Dad reminded me about "The Little Engine That Could,” the children’s story that has such an amazing message centered on believing in yourself. I thought about all of you competing against tough companies, having to regularly deflect negativity, dealing with Uber in the media, the unraveling of our labor force, and just the overall daily struggles to make ends meet. I turned to this wonderful book about focus and positive thinking. This story is all about staying the course and tuning out negativity.
Believe in your ability to see things through and never give up. That’s what we did, and when we got to our event, we were rewarded with a wonderful crowd of 1,100. We exceeded our goal by 100 people. We connected with new faces, strengthened old relationships, and fixed misperceptions about who we are. We also delivered rock star level education and networking events. We wined and dined our industry people like never before and celebrated them. My staff received a standing ovation from the exhibitors at the close of the show.

This was far and away one of the most positive experiences I’ve had in my two decades serving you. My message to all of you as we end 2015 and look to the New Year is to believe in yourself, believe in your company, believe in your people, and believe in your service. Stay focused. Tune out the noise. LCT salutes you. We wish you the best throughout the holiday season and an amazing 2016.

Related Topics: LCT Publisher, LCT-NLA Show East, limo tradeshows, Sara Eastwood-Richardson, tradeshow preparation

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