Fair Trade at Chicagoʼs McCormick Place Just Got a new Definition

Chicagoʼs McCormick Place.

What happened: Chicago has been steadily losing trade show business for a decade because of ridiculously high costs for services like vacuuming, food, exhibiting and yes, carpentering. That last one is a big deal. 800 to 1,000 carpenters can be assembled at McCormick, but at an outstandingly enormous expense.

But change is on the horizon. Through efforts of the Business Marketing Association and many others in Chicago, lawmakers took a hard look at the prevailing contracts and rates being charged exhibitors and figured out its the high cost that is driving expos to non-union towns like Orange County, FL and Atlanta, GA. (If you have ever exhibited you know that a $100 dollar charge to receive a box from the back to your booth is not crazy, it’s normal.)

This month, the Illinois General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in the House and Senate to enact sweeping changes. The new law will give exhibitors the right to do much of their own booth work, impose more-flexible union work rules that would cut crew sizes and overtime billings, and slash markups on food and electrical service that have been costly to exhibitors for years.

Why it matters: The marketplace has already changed in many ways for sales through marketing, and expo marketing is no exception. There used to be many, many more major trade shows and conferences for the graphic arts and printing industry. Today, there are WAY fewer because of the high cost and marginal ROI benefits of exhibiting and attending. Some became ghost towns and others merged with each another or went out of business altogether.

Itʼs painful when the gravy train stops pouring out the gravy, but not as painful when there isnʼt a train at all. Carpenters are great, but as in most things in business, it has to make sense for both sides of the table or itʼs not a fair deal.

It’s what is expected today.
Tom Wants to Hear Your Branding Issues:
If you are a printing company, or product/services company serving the industry, and would like to be considered for a feature in this blog, please contact Tom Marin for an interview.

Tom Marin is the managing partner of MarketCues.com and provides corporate and brand strategy to organizations of all sizes. He has an extensive background in the graphic arts, printing, publishing and media industries. Marin is an accredited member of the national and international chapters of the Business Marketing Assn., is a (CBC) certified business communicator and a past marketing chair of the Chicago chapter.

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