Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

CAR EXPO 2011 Recap

We exhibited at the CAR EXPO show last week at the San Jose Convention Center. The show kicked off at 5PM on Tuesday night and went till 8PM, show hours were 9AM to 5PM on Wednesday and 9AM to 4PM on Thursday. Not a lot of Vendors will share with you any real numbers in regard to sales at trade shows but I thought I would this time.

Our Booth

I had us listed as “Cloud CMA by W&R Studios“. This was an naming convention I stole from FBS. I’m just worried about the day we launch another product that may or may not have the “Cloud” moniker so I think its important to get both names out there now. We had 3 people total, myself and two others. To be fair I wasn’t always at the booth. Our booth location wasn’t the best but I was able to get a 10 X 10 close to the MLSListings booth, which will make sense a little later in this post.

Over all the traffic was slow. I almost hate saying that since every Vendor references this mythological year when they were off the hook busy with booth traffic. And the Scarf King was super busy! : ) The times we did receive a quick bump was usually when a speaker had referenced us at one of the breakout sessions.

Personally I don’t really care for CAR’s Tuesday evening “kickoff”. It just increases our costs (hotel, food, rental car) We did have a few sign ups (about 10) during this time, but I really think we could have done without it, or maybe it should have lasted just two hours, instead of three.

Last Year Vs. This Year.

Last year the event was held in Anaheim (our backyard), and we did about 70 signups. Half of them yearly (about $199.95) and the other half monthly ($24.95), our “show special” pricing. We had to turn a lot of people away since we were not compatible with Sandicor at the time and some of the Northern California MLS providers.

This year we did a big push in California and the only major MLS provider we were not compatible with was BAREIS. We are going to be launching BAREIS soon, but the timing for this year’s CAR EXPO didn’t work out.

We did about 40 sign-ups total for the show, half of them Yearly. Same pricing as last year. I had set our goal at 100, so I was disappointed. The main factor (besides traffic) was that we are launching a site license with Contra Costa, Bay East and EBRD next month. So we had to turn away a ton of people from those areas who were going to get Cloud CMA free as part of their MLS membership. Also a factor was that we just recently launched the local MLS, MLSListings, so our name recognition was really that strong.

But these are just excuses, and as I tell my sales guys: “Excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one, and they all stink.”

Selling

The guys tried a few different things this time, like demoing on their iPads, which I believe worked out well (although I’m still concerned some agents might be intimidated). I was more comfortable with using the actual printed report samples we had. When demoing on their notebooks (MacBook Airs) they would use a slide show instead of going live on to the web. Although we did have a wireless internet connection thru a Verizon MiFi device we brought along in case a customer had a specific feature they wanted to see. Also, we had a pretty high closing rate of people who came by the booth, so that also tells me traffic was a factor in our poor results.

Since we were new in the area we focused upon finding contacts in the area for coming back for a second trip and doing demos in larger offices. So all was not lost, but disappointing.

Bottom Line

We haven’t had any great success with trade shows this year and I’ve really scaled back our participation. The CAR EXPO will be in Anaheim next year, which means I will probably attend again. If the show were in another area where I would have to travel I would probably scale back and not go myself (which would save a ton of money on alcohol alone). I will give the convention staff at CAR credit, they have a great team and do treat the exhibitors with respect and are open to suggestions. And fresh coffee and doughnuts at the Exhibitor Lounge do go a long way. : )

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