Do you know a high school graduate this time of year who is heading off to college in the fall? Did they buy a university sweatshirt, t-shirt or poster that will represent the school they are attending? Chances are some of the merchandise – which also includes pencils, candy and temporary tattoos - were featured at this year’s CAMEX trade show, which took place in March in Dallas, Texas.
The show features items in more than 90 product categories targeted to college students of all ages, campus faculty and staff, plus parents and alumni.
It is campus retailing’s largest trade show and is now more compact and more manageable, thanks to the new attendee journeys created by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) and T3 Expo. The new partnership, launched this year, was forged through discovery and by pushing away past assumptions in order to create unique Shareable Moments™ for the event.
So, what was done differently this year? In 2018, T3 Expo started on the path of change for the show – focusing first on the floor and the layout.
“We started by organizing the exhibit hall into their four different buying categories--apparel, gift & novelty, course materials, and supplies,” said Greg McCormack, CEM, T3 Expo. “This helped create a better flow for the buyer’s journey and to maximize their time on the show floor.”
After the layout change, each area had its own unique lounge and showcase for sponsor product displays and theaters for exhibitor hosted educational topics. T3 Expo also created some special programs for the exhibitors including CAMEX’s first ever product material handling rate to promote additional SKUs in the booth and more product to showcase.
What were the best shareable moments T3 Expo created? One of the coolest and most memorable parts of the show was the large CAMEX letter prop in the lobby. It was one of the “shareable moments” of the show and received the most attention with photos, social media posts, and shout outs.
The second area that generated a “WOW-factor” was the newly designed IndiCo booth on the CAMEX show floor. indiCo provides independent campus stores with services and programs that lower costs and support student success. Their customized store services strengthen self-operation, and a full-service collaborative model provides an alternative to leasing. They help stores compete with lower-cost, no-minimum general merchandise and store basics such as fixtures, loss prevention technology, and marketing. With the help of the T3 design team, indiCo was able to bring its vision to life with an impressive booth space on the show floor.
CAMEX has a long history as a successful event--bringing the best products and store solutions to the College Store market. With a recent trend of campus stores moving away from independent management to outsourcing solutions, NACS realized that changes needed to be made to enhance the buyer experience and bring new energy to their event.
“Providing clients with solutions to challenges they are having is one of the key ingredients to the creation of T3 Expo. The key to success is to start by asking lots of questions and going through the discovery process to truly understand their needs. Each client has unique needs,” added McCormack. “T3 Expo does a lot of homework and we are not afraid to challenge our partners with new ideas in order to move them out of the comfort zone.”
Sometimes clients need support on how they can do things differently, how they can grow their show and how they can evolve their attendee’s journey. It is all about pacing and sequencing and realizing that sometimes change is not a quick fix; each change needs to be thought out and properly planned to promote maximum success.
“T3 Expo has been working with NACS to continue the evolution of CAMEX started in 2018, and we will be creating even more shareable moments and changes in 2019. You’ll have to come to San Antonio to see what we have in store,” added McCormack.