This year’s BAI Beacon held October 5th and 6th replaced BAI Retail Delivery and BAI Payments Connect. “Retail Delivery” started many years ago as an ATM show and evolved into a multi-discipline event, though it had waned in the last few years.
As any good association would do, BAI rebooted its signature fall event and created BAI Beacon, featuring an open campus floor plan and a timely content-rich multi-stage environment.
The preshow list of attendees had 446 people on it and did not reflect those who “opted out” of sharing their contact details. One BAI executive said with walk-up registrations, the total should have exceeded 1,200 persons.
Here’s what worked:
- All the events and participants were in one room; no breakout sessions competing with the exhibit area.
- Exhibitors and sponsors all used “pods” or booths set up by the association – just bring your laptop and plug into the flat screen monitor.
- Video interviews conducted by American Banker. Other media and analysts made the rounds on the floor. (They were not sequestered to a “press room” ½ a mile away.)
- The quality of attendee was good. One vendor said they got several good leads.
- Feedback about the presenters and panel sessions was consistently very positive.
- White boards were provided to exhibitors; some of whom were creative in how they used the surface area.
- Day passes enabled people to attend the session they wanted to see.
Here’s what can be improved:
- Exhibitors complained about lack of prospects and little pod/booth traffic (note: I hear this about most shows).
- The placement of booths and lack of visible numbering. Competitors were placed next to each other, and one vendor said they had invested in preshow promotion asking people to stop by booth #XX, only to discover there were no aisle numbers; therefore, people had to walk around until they found the booth they were seeking.
- With multiple stages in the same room, the sound of competing sessions was distracting. One presenter said it was a little unnerving for him, too.
- BAI distributed wristbands with glowing lights. While it made it easy to share contact details (tap the two bands together), it was supposed to be used to connect with others with similar interests – for example, when your light turned blue, you were supposed to start talking to someone else with the same color wristband.
- Having the same pod/booth as every other exhibitor made it hard to stand out or flex strong company branding. As one person said, “This is how I’d imagine a socialist trade show would look.”
Overall, BAI brought a lot of new ideas to the table. As one prominent bank consultant said, “BAI has turned this ship around and headed in the right direction.”
If you have other feedback, please share in the comments below or give Scott Mills a call at 770-330-8762.