Suitcasing and Outboarding – Creative Solutions for a Persistent Problem

Posted by
Barry Siskind
UFIs Community Manager

Some call it outright thievery when attendees who haven’t paid to exhibit attempt to solicit business from other attendees. The IAEE calls this “Suitcasing.” “Outboarding” is another unethical act where individuals and corporations hold events that are not part of the trade fair agenda such as parties, hospitality suites, offsite demonstrations and even entire tradeshows, capitalizing on the organizers time and effort assembling highly targeted attendees and delegates.

Every organizer has faced the unethical activities of suitcasers and outboarders at least once. How can you handle it? You can be heavy handed and escort these individuals off the trade fair floor but often you are faced with other suitcasers the next day.

In a recent ExpoWeb article the strategies used by three show organizers were discussed.

The first example was Kelby Carr who is the founder and organizer of the Type-A Parent Conference. Kelby instituted a bounty on suitcasers. When an attendee reported being approached by a suitcaser, Kelby gave this person $100 and a free pass to any of her shows the following year.

The second example was Rick Calvert who is the founder and CEO of the New Media Expo. He felt that once people understood that suitcasing and outboarding were wrong, they would discontinue doing it. He would post the name of those who persisted to a social media site after his warning.

The third example was Rob Mesirow who is the Vice President of Operations for CTIA—The Wireless Association and Head of CTIA Wireless. He took a different approach and rather than fighting them he joined them. He developed a process to working with outboarders on a revenue sharing basis so that both parties found value from the audience that was present.…Townsquare+Buys+MAC+Events…EXPO+Insights+%7c+12.18.13

Have you seen or heard of other creative solutions to this persistent problem? Please comment and let me know.

Leave A Comment