Drilling Deeper Into OTC Part I

Ben Olson | June 23, 2016

The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) wrapped up in Houston last month and I was fortunate to experience the show with a number of my MG associates. We visited each of the halls, the big tents, the outdoor exhibit areas and related spaces. It's always a pleasure (and luxury) to have the opportunity to walk a big show as an observer and OTC was no exception.

Not familiar with the show? OTC draws nearly 60,000 visitors from around the world who work in the oil and gas business, with an emphasis (as the name would imply) on offshore technology. The show features a large assortment of large equipment ranging from Captain Phillip's style lifeboats to drilling equipment and derricks, to a Bell Helicopter and an assortment of large Rolls Royce engines and just about everything else in between. I'd love to share photos of not only the products, but the exhibits, but OTC has a very strict "no pictures" policy that they closely enforce. For visual references for our MG team post-show, our VP, Creative, Rob Majerowski went old school with a sketchbook and captured some impressive hand renderings of a number of notable exhibits.

One of the most striking features of OTC is the amount of real estate that it takes up, from two entire facilities to a massive parking structure at the NRG complex. Each hall (NRG Center, NRG Arena) has a different mix of inline and island exhibits, and the exterior areas also feature a wide range of tented structures and exhibits (Outdoor Exhibits and Pavilion). During my time though, traffic was not evenly distributed, with the much larger traffic numbers centered in the NRG Center and far fewer visitors in the outlying indoor and outdoor exhibits. Of course, different days and times drive different traffic patterns, but this variation on day 1 prompted some thoughts on what an exhibitor in outlying areas might do to help drive more traffic and build additional meaningful value for their program.

So it is key to embrace your location. Big, established shows mean squatted spaces that often go to the same exhibitors year after year. Often, shows are facility-locked as well with simply no more space to expand into. This means that it becomes more difficult for a new exhibitor to get their desired locations and that existing exhibitors are often unable to move to larger spaces or expand their existing show footprint. Whatever the situation, it’s important to take stock in the space that you have (location and square footage) and build a plan that maximizes the opportunity of both.

Look next week for Drilling Deeper into OTC Part II for thoughts on building a destination for those remote locations and how to be more strategic with smaller spaces.