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What it Took to Win Best of Show at ExhibitorLIVE 2017 and How to Apply That to Achieve Success in Other Areas

Winning the Best of Show award at ExhibitorLIVE 2017 was one of the greatest experiences I have had in my 35-year career, spanning several industries.

To win the top award at the “Trade Show for Trade Shows” was quite a feat.  Some days I still have to pinch myself that we won.

As I reflected after things settled down, I wanted to record what I thought got us there (we had not won this award since 2001) so that we could replicate it again….and then I thought, why just Best of Show?  What can we apply to other key projects?   There may be some things that can apply to all and that can be of interest to you as well.

Strive to incorporate these key elements in high-value projects to ensure success. These are the factors that I strongly believe led to our success at ExhibitorLive and set us up to win the Best of Show Award.

  1. A Plan with lead time.  Set up many months in advance and pressured tested for almost a year.
  2. A Leader in charge.  Though many were involved, one person was put in charge and recommended the major ideas to Leadership.  This leader sometimes just acted with autonomy and made the decisions herself when the timing was appropriate.
  3. A Team that was listened to.  Functional experts were employed throughout the process and listened to. Their job was to ask, “how can we do this better?”
  4. The Heart is the ThemeSkyline 360 was given parameters that were clear but flexible and came up with the wonderful “Experience Trade Show Zen” theme.
  5. The Soul was the design.  Pick a trusted designer with vision and cut them loose.
  6. Allow creativity to bring the theme to life.  Zen gardens mean rocks, a bonsai tree, bamboo walls, birds, and only with Skyline genius, a digital koi pond with fish that came to the surface and left Skyline logo ripples on the water’s surface.
  7. Perfect coordination.  Engineers, Marketing, Project Management, Creative Artists, Vendors       (such as Brumark our ESP Flooring partner) Skyline Las Vegas Set up Crews, Install and Dismantle that went perfectly (but not without some pain and agony!).  Do pre-show and post show follow up promotions.  Give away relaxing messages.
  8. Passion beyond reason.  Skyline is a proud culture, and with exhibit and event passion beyond measure.  It is what drove our success.
  9. Attention to detail.  Whether it was the bamboo wood that had to be redone many times to achieve milled perfection, or the Japanese bakery in Las Vegas which had just the right show “treats”, or tea shopping to get just the right blend….the heaven was in the details.
  10. Team celebration.after.  No one assumed we would win.  We just did our best and celebrated after!

We do this for thousands of clients each year.  It’s kind of fun to actually be our own client once in a while!


I would welcome any tips you might have to add to achieving success in a complex, winning project.


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About the Author

Jon Althoff was the Senior Director of Global Marketing for Skyline Exhibits.

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