Successful Exhibiting Training Seminars



Jo-Anne Kelleway is the CEO & owner of Info Salons.  Info Salons is Australia's largest & most successful supplier of "trackers" - the devices that exhibitors use to electronically collect sales leads at trade shows.

Jo-Anne shares her deep understanding of this special niche in the Industry. She reveals that lead collection devices are just one part of Info Salon's service offerings to show organisers, exhibitors and buyers alike. Jo-Anne shares some interesting & surprising new ideas where her company is leading the Industry.

Best of Show™ assists Exhibitors to attain the highest ROI at trade and consumer shows - anywhere.  Our seminars and educational materials have been developed and are maintained by Colin Green. Colin is a Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM). 

Information on Best of Show™ seminars, workshops, eBooks, DVDs and CDs are on our website,  

Or telephone Colin in Sydney, Australia (02)9589-2000.  Our New Zealand telephone (04)570-2000 redirects to Sydney.

 Colin:              The follow-up statistics of leads taken by exhibitors at shows is almost always really dismal. Statistics prove that less than 20% of leads are usually appropriately followed up by exhibitors. Info Salons addresses this awful statistic by providing lead retrieval devices, otherwise known as trackers.


Welcome to Best of Show, Jo-Anne. Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge and experience in this really critical area of lead collection.


Jo-Anne:          That’s okay, Colin.


Colin:              So, you are the CEO of Info Salons?


Jo-Anne:          That’s right. I am the CEO and I also own the business.


Colin:              And you own Info Salons in Australia and also all offices throughout the world?


Jo-Anne:         That’s right; I own the group.


Colin:              We are talking to the right lady! Tell me a little more about what Info Salons actually does, please.


Jo-Anne:          Info Salons is a leading online event management solutions, database and registration company. We operate throughout Australia, China, Asia and the Middle East. We work with very large, reputable organizations like Reed Exhibitions, DMG World Media and Diversified throughout that whole geographical area.


Colin:              And you work in about 50 different shows in New Zealand as well. Is that correct?


Jo-Anne:          That’s correct. We work throughout New Zealand. We fly over, do the event, and fly back. We’re close enough to make it cost effective to do that.


Colin:              Yes, I understand. I do exactly the same thing because I’m based in Sydney but I love to go across to New Zealand and work over there. It’s just as easy as going out to Perth, really, isn’t it?


Jo-Anne:          Yes.


Colin:              What is the size of Info Salons?


Jo-Anne:          We’re around 100 employees, worldwide. We work from five offices—Sydney is the head office - and we have Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Dubai. There are about 65 to 70 employees here and the rest are all overseas. All together, we work on about 500 events annually around the world, so it’s quite a sizeable little company.


Colin:              And all based out of Sydney. I really take my hat off to you.  Tell me a little about your team, please.


Jo-Anne:          My team is incredible. That is the single thing that gives Info Salons such an edge on our competitors. We have a fantastic group of enthusiastic, knowledgeable people that are 100% committed to customer service. They look after all of our clients’ events. They’re young, they love the industry, they love what they’re doing and it really shows in their work.


Colin:              That’s why I came to you, because you have such a fantastic name here in Australia. I confess though, I did not know that you had such a wide reach. Jo-Anne, who do Info Salons primarily work with? Who is your message to today?


Jo-Anne:          Well, through Best of Show, the message is mostly to exhibitors. We work with around 50,000 exhibitors annually and because of that, we really understand how important an exhibition is to these exhibitors.


Many of them base the entire growth of their company on the event so we’ve come up with tools and applications to assist them and to really make the most out of each event.


Our real client though, is the show organizer because if the show organizer isn’t our client, then we can’t really offer any of our other complementary services.


The show organizers are our first point of contact and all of our applications are designed for them so they can work out how their show is going and do a full analysis on it. It’s to make sure they’re doing the right thing by their exhibitors and visitors. With all of the applications that we provide, we try and enhance that face-to-face experience of the events.


Colin:              It’s interesting that you include the visitors because quite often, the visitors are almost forgotten at the show. It’s almost like organizers and exhibitors are making the show for themselves, but of course, the visitors are incredibly pivotal and important. Would you like to comment on that?


Jo-Anne:          That’s right; people forget that our number-one client for the entire industry, not just us, but for organizers and exhibitors, is the visitor. We’re very lucky at Info Salons, as we’re in constant communication with the visitor because we really have the first contact, even prior to pre-registration when they’re just thinking about a show, right through to going through the show, and even after the show. They are our first point of contact and they really are the most important factor in the entire equation.


Colin:              Of course you’re doing so many shows and are working with so many people that you are able to closely advise exhibitors on how to collect information and how to get the answers they need to get from these buyers.


Jo-Anne:          Absolutely. Because we are in constant contact with the visitor, we get a lot of feedback from visitors who have been to shows and are interested in purchasing products.  Especially when, a month later, they haven’t heard from the exhibitors.


Colin:              And of course that’s why you have these systems so as to make it easy for the exhibitors because of the issues they face.


Jo-Anne:          Absolutely!


Colin:              We need to talk about the trackers - your lead-retrieval devices. We will talk more about some of your other systems shortly, but could you tell me a little more about exactly what a tracker does? What is the problem to be solved? How do you go about that?


Jo-Anne:          The first problem that we found before trackers were invented is that exhibitors wanted to be able to quickly obtain a lead. Yes, there were the business cards in the fish bowls, but exhibitors wanted to be able to obtain a lead electronically so they didn’t have to type it all in.  And some people didn’t bring business cards, so the thing was to obtain that lead.


                        It wasn’t just a lead either. It’s not just a business card that they want. They wanted to be able to qualify that lead and understand exactly why they were talking to that person, what that person was interested in, and what the next step of action was for that person.


So we developed tracking devices that could scan the information so it was quickly obtainable and would qualify the visitor through a list of objectives, like what product they were interested in and what to do next. That then became the basis to help them on their return on investment, their ROI equation, on whether the event was a success or not. That’s how the trackers came into being.


Colin:              I find that intriguing. How do they work, exactly?


Jo-Anne:          All of the name badges have some kind of trackable feature on them, whether it’s a bar code, a magnetic strip, an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or a chip. The trackers simply scan that feature and instantly capture the visitor’s detail that is held in that area. The data is initially populated into the badge either online by the visitor when they’re pre-registering, or onsite by our data entry operators.


That information is stored within the bar code, magnetic strip or chip so that when the unit scans the card, it picks up that information. We then provide all of the exhibitors with a secure password-protected URL that they can log into and download all of their leads. They can also continue to follow up on specific tasks. It’s like a mini-CRM tool that we provide them with.


Colin:              So you supply them with a Customer Relationship Management system?


Jo-Anne:          That’s right, to help them follow up with their leads easily. I think part of the problem with events and with exhibitors is that an exhibitor doesn’t realize he’s going to be inundated with leads. It’s difficult to get through them all and sometimes they can’t, particularly if they’re a small company. So we’ve tried to develop a simple, easy-to-use, online application that will help them get through following up all of their leads.


Colin:              So if you’re supplying them with something online, it seems to me that they would be able to bring up their hottest leads, for example, from their hotel room while the show is going on.


Jo-Anne:          Absolutely, they can do that, although let me say, few ever do. It’s one of those things that they could do, even while they’re on the stand, but usually people are so busy, they don’t. Whilst in theory it all sounds fabulous, the reality is, because it’s online we have full reporting on the back end so we can see who’s accessing it and when.  And sadly we can see that few actually do that as yet.


Colin:              How well DO exhibitors tend to follow up in your experience?  Is it within a week or so of the show?


Jo-Anne:          The average is within one month of the show.


Colin:              That is a long time! I sense a mother lode of information here, Jo-Anne. As far as the back end is concerned, you’re saying that they get the information from your secure, password-protected website and then do they download the information to their own computers?


Jo-Anne:          It’s online so they can download it. If they already have their own internal customer database, they can just download the leads and important it straight into that. They don’t have to use the online customer relationship management tool. However our CRM tool is there for those people who don’t have that database at their office.


Colin:              So they can go both ways.


Jo-Anne:          Oh yes, and it’s for free.  They can even do broadcast emails to all of their leads. They can attach their latest product brochure that the buyer was interested in. They can add extra notes and they can add tasks into a calendar to remind them to follow up and call on a certain day and so forth.  It’s for free - all part of the rental of the tracking device.


Colin:              That, I dare say, is a service which very few people would know about and I think it’s brilliant.


Jo-Anne:          We do tell them. We tell everybody that rents the tracker unit that the extended services are available. Immediately after the event we send another e-mail to them saying, “This is your login. Download all these wonderful things…”


Colin:              You obviously really look after your customers!  Tell me, Jo-Anne, do you have a range of trackers or is it just one size fits all?


Jo-Anne:          We have a range because everybody is different and different industries prefer different technologies. Our standard unit is what we call the Info Tracker, which is a basic desktop unit that requires power. It’s got a built-in printer. It’s also got a little built-in floppy disk (that nobody uses anymore), but it’s there just in case.


                        Then there are our Info Mobile trackers, which are handheld units. They are battery operated and have no printer. Our latest, the Info Web Tracker, is a wireless unit. It’s handheld, battery operated. It’s a PDA and web based and because it’s a PDA, you can write notes right on the unit.  And because it’s wireless, we’re also investigating little Bluetooth printers that we can rent out with them, to those people that still like the idea of printing out an extra bit of paper.


Colin:              What is the actual source of the data held? Is it entirely on the badge or is it also in computers? If so, how does this all really work?


Jo-Anne:          First of all I need to say that, Info Salons does not own any of the data. We are purely a collection agent; we collect it for the use of the organizer and through them for the exhibitor. All of the organizers that we deal with are privacy compliant. They advise in advance if they are going to offer the data to third parties so that people can opt in or out of that ability to let their information go forward.



Colin:              When you say “go forward”, do you mean to the exhibitor, or elsewhere?


Jo-Anne:          Yes, the exhibitor would be third party. The authority to give the information to the exhibitor does not exist until the visitor hands over his badge.  They give permission to access their information when they hand over their badge for scanning.


Colin:              So there is a huge amount of privacy involved here.


Jo-Anne:          Absolutely. The data that we hold is on huge, secure servers that are locked away in external server farms, the same that are used by banks and they can’t be hacked into. The data we hold, as I said, has ownership by the organizer and if the organizer is going to pass that data on to a third party, they would get prior approval from the visitor. There would be a box on the registration page somewhere.


Colin:              This information is on the badge of the visitor. So this is, of course, for trade shows because visitors pre-register, they give the information, receive a badge and then they go on into the show.


At consumer shows it’s different as the buyer (the attendee) purchases a ticket and then just goes into the show. They don’t have a badge, therefore the information is not available in that environment. Do you have any solution for consumer shows, because they are such big business as well?


Jo-Anne:          We are seeing a demand from exhibitors at consumer shows who want to have the opportunity of using a tracker to help them capture data at these events too. Our software includes public show ticketing applications, so when that is used by organizers we can capture data on people as they purchase their tickets online.


                        There are various concepts being introduced, such as loyalty cards in public shows. That way, data is being captured at these shows too. So there are ways of providing exhibitors of public shows with scanning devices too. It depends on what the organizer is offering.


Colin:              So any organizer who is reading this information should know that that’s available and can to talk with you.  And exhibitors must also know that this can be available and to check with the organizers and maybe with Info Salons?


Jo-Anne:          That’s right.


Colin:              Now data we are discussing is that which is available as base information.  That is to say, information that the buyer (otherwise known as the attendee) has shared when they registered such as their name, company name, telephone number, maybe e-mail. However, if the exhibitor wants to get other information, for example, hot “hot to trot” a buyer is for a particular item, do you have a programmable option with your trackers?


Jo-Anne:          Yes. All Info Salon’s tracker software is customizable so that we can load the exhibitors’ product names, their staff names, any steps of action specific to their company and so on. We can load that into the tracker and exhibitors that scan the buyer’s information know that, for example, they spoke to salesman Joe Smith.


They can track that they spoke about products one, two and three, and that they’ve promised to do a demonstration next week or telephone within two weeks.  We can pre-program each of the units to have something that is exactly what that exhibitor requires to qualify their leads


Colin:              Jo-Anne, that’s amazingly powerful. I need to ask you, is there the ability to take notes? For example, let’s say an exhibitor is suspicious that this might be a competitor or that there’s some special action they need to take; can they take ad hoc notes as well?


Jo-Anne:          Yes, they can. With the old, standard trackers, there’s the printer so that quite often, people would write notes on the print-out, and now with the new web-based ones, because they’re PDAs, you can include any handwritten notes against the record, which will hold it electronically.


Colin:              How stable is the data contained in the trackers? Can it be lost prior to supply to the exhibitor?


Jo-Anne:          Our trackers do have their own built-in memory cards, but you can never say never, unfortunately.  Some things are outside of our control. We had an exhibitor recently in Melbourne who had a fire on their stand and it destroyed the tracker too. That kind of thing we can’t do anything about—or theft of the unit. It’s very unusual that the information would be lost.


Colin:              What about static electricity? Can that wipe out the memory of the unit?


Jo-Anne:          No.


Colin:              Okay, thank you for that. Last month I interviewed Dave Staughton. He’s a professional buyer. He expressed the opinion that trackers are intrusive and often don’t work. Do you care to comment on that perception?


Jo-Anne:          I think Dave was speaking pretty broadly and as I said before, every industry is slightly different. Some are more technical than others. This defines the type of unit that that exhibitor is using. So if we have a non-technical industry, maybe it’s an art/craft type of home-based business industry, then it might be that some of those people have difficulty in getting the hang of scanning. But once you do it, it’s very, very simple.


To tell you the truth, of exhibitors who have used a tracker, we have over 98% retention rate. We have thousands of exhibitors who thank us for providing them with these tools. I know that not everybody is going to get it first go, but it really isn’t that difficult.


Colin:              It would also come down to the way the exhibitor approaches the buyer, to say “May I?” as opposed to just grabbing their badge; would that be correct?


Jo-Anne:          Yes. I read the interview with Dave and I agree when he said it would be wasting time to scan first. I think that you shouldn’t start off with scanning. I think you should start off with a conversation, as you’ve said many times before, Colin.


Start with a conversation, define what they’re after, try and work out what qualified them, and then before they leave, you scan them.  Then you know what you’ve spoken to them about and you have qualified them. So I don’t think it gets in the way. It’s really nice tidy-up and almost a promise of follow-up. “Yes, Bob, now we’ve done all of this…and here’s my promise: I’m scanning you, it’s my delivery.”


Colin:              It’s the process, looking after the customer, focusing on the customer as a person as opposed to just an item to grab details from.


Jo-Anne:          Yes.


Colin:              I have been to shows and what Dave says I strongly agree with.  I also strongly agree with what you’re saying, so it really comes down to how it’s used.


Jo-Anne:          Yes, I think so.


Colin:              Jo-Anne, do you sell the trackers or do you just rent them?


Jo-Anne:          We just rent them. The units are quite expensive, and as with all technology, every year something bigger and better comes out. So we just rent them because then we can use them many times. It makes sense for us to be able to just update them and upgrade them on a regular basis so our exhibitors are getting to use the latest products as we bring them out.


Colin:              So you amortize it across a number of people to enable you to offer the very latest technology.


Jo-Anne:          That’s right. That’s why we’re able to offer the hiring at such a low rate and incorporate things for free, such as the additional add-on features of the online CRM tool.


Colin:              Incidentally, how much does it cost to hire in, say, Australian dollars?


Jo-Anne:          They’re about AU$100 a day plus GST, so it depends on the number of days of the event.  Exhibitors get everything included.


Colin:              So in American dollars that would be approximately $62 a day at the moment.


Jo-Anne:          At the moment—that’s why I’d rather not quote in American dollars because of the fluctuation in the exchange rates.


Colin:              What about the programming? What do you charge to program the unit?


Jo-Anne:          That’s included in the rental fee.


Colin:              That’s extraordinary. I cannot believe what good value people are getting here and I mean that sincerely.


Jo-Anne:          Thank you.


Colin:              Where do exhibitors get more information about the trackers, please?


Jo-Anne:          The trackers are available through the shows’ exhibitor manual. The organizer includes information there. We normally do follow-up with an e-mail broadcast as well. We have information on our website and exhibitors can telephone us too.


Colin:              What is your website?


Jo-Anne: & our phone number is 02 9211-7344.


Colin:              And that’s in Sydney, of course. Do want to say anything about any of your other services?


Jo-Anne:          We’re looking at developing a reverse application, a URL, so a visitor can log in and look up all of the exhibitors that scanned him or her.  So if the exhibitor has not made contact the visitor can contact them. We’re hoping that this will greatly improve the lead gathering process and put some power in the hands of the visitors.  Perhaps they spoke to a salesman on the stand and that salesman may have left the company. I don’t know why, but some exhibitors simply do not follow up, so we’re looking at ways of completing the circle.


Colin:              I have never heard of that before and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. You should be congratulated for that initiative.


Jo-Anne:          Thank you. You’re sharing it for the first time on Best of Show!


Colin:              Thank you very much! Jo-Anne, I really appreciate this. Thank you for your time. I’m looking forward to sharing this with exhibitors and organizers throughout Australia, New Zealand and in other parts of the world.


Jo-Anne:         Okay; no problem. 

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