IRCE2010.COM – What should our expectations be?

We have been very busy the last few months planning for the upcoming Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in the Windy City of Chicago. It’s less than 2 months away - June 8 -11th.

Catalogs.com will be there in force, including our Senior Account Executives, VP of Business Development, and other senior management – all setting up residence in the exhibition hall 9. We have reserved expensive booth space (Booth #667), rented tables, chairs, carpet and drapes. We have contracted for Internet service and installation professionals. (Chicago is a union town, we have been reminded, again and again.) We have ordered classy little logo-emblazoned giveaways, printed cartons of marketing materials and arranged to have an entire skid of supplies shipped from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago (round-trip). Airfare has been booked, hotel rooms confirmed, restaurants reserved.

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And I would be remiss if I didn’t just say that we expect a little ROI.

Not a great big, piggy-kind-of-10X-ROI, but a reasonable return on investment. I’d like to be able to figure that we’ll get a 2X return.

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Attending trade conferences costs a ton of money. Though the economy is still in recovery mode, association membership is down, conference attendance has been way off and conference expectations are under fire, we still fully expect to receive:

• Obtaining newly signed contracts
• Meeting and mingling with clients (both existing clients as well as new faces).
• Receiving hundreds of solid, weighty new leads.
• Chatting with some of my fellow industry bloggers, tweeters and Linkedin connections, live and in person, not just via our keyboards.
• Spending quality, team-building time with our marketing staff. They are great people, they work hard and often don’t get the appreciation they deserve.
• Discovering two or more new resources that can be used in helping to build our business, or learning about companies we can suggest to our current clients.

Because the “I” in the ROI has crept into five figures (yes, it’s over the $10,000 mark) in planning for this huge Internet Retailer Conference, in addition to figuring in management’s time away from the office (and the phones and the computer) … we really are hoping for maybe even a 3X ROI as the end result.

Do you think this is too much to expect? What has your experience been with attending conferences? I’d love to hear your stories.

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