For exhibit and event professionals  

What should I do about an uneventful event?

June 7, 2011 By Editor

My boss has decided we should opt out of an event we’ve always participated in, because we haven’t been getting enough return on investment from it. The problem is, the organizer and I have become somewhat friendly over the years. Should I tell her honestly why we won’t be a part of her show this year? Let her down gently? Or just wait for her to notice we’re not there?

— Rae, Events Manager

Don’t make your no-show a big production

Rae, one thing is fairly certain: You won’t be the only longtime exhibitor who doesn’t go to this event. Many companies are being far more careful with how they spend their money. So, what should you do? Our readers advise you to:

  • Be upfront.
  • Turn “no” into a positive.
  • Don’t beat yourself up over it.

Be upfront

Since you have a relationship with this organizer, you obviously don’t want to appear callous or inconsiderate.

Deborah R. Herr, marketing consultant, believes honesty and tact should guide your behavior.

“Eeek! That’s no way to treat a friend. Of course, you have to say something. Tell her business is business and that the economics are no longer right for your company to participate. Then add that, if the event changes, you’ll present the idea to management again.”

Turn “no” into a positive

Losing you as an exhibitor is bound to upset your acquaintance on some level, but letting her down gently and showing your concern for her can help make it a little less painful.

An event specialist explains how to do this.

“Be honest with your friend. Although it may be awkward, explain — nicely — that you’re not participating because your company simply hasn’t realized sufficient profit from her show.

“But don’t stop there. Offer her suggestions on ways to improve her event. If you do it the right way, you may salvage your relationship and help make her event better, one you may be able to participate in sometime down the road.”

Don’t beat yourself up over it

Life is all about change. And although you’ve participated in this event for several years, that doesn’t mean you’ll always be there.

An exhibit manager thinks you should give yourself a break.

“You say you’re ‘somewhat friendly’ with this organizer, so what’s the problem? She isn’t your friend, she didn’t send you a personalized invitation and she doesn’t have any reason to expect you to be a part of her show. Don’t go, and don’t call her with some lame excuse. Why create a lot of unnecessary drama?”


  • Call the show organizer. Let her know your budget has been cut, and the company will only let you go to events that have historically provided ample return on investment. If she seems to take this news pretty well, ask her if she’s ever considered doing “A” or “B,” like the shows you are participating in.

  • Write a Reply or Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

    The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. Review Privacy Policy here