Tips for Vetting a Cannabis Trade Show: How to Measure Value and ROI

The cannabis industry is growing and maturing. Along with it, trade shows are playing an evermore important role in educating about new products, services, and creative ways to expand businesses. Exhibitors are marketing a vast array of goods and services giving growers, processors, and retailers the convenience of one-stop shopping to keep their cannabis operations on the leading edge.

So, before you pay for your airline tickets and hotel rooms, how do you decide which trade shows are right for you? How do you know if they’re worth the time and money.

Vet the Members

Just as when you conduct background checks to vet your new employees and ensure their experience and reliability are what they say they are — the same should be done to verify the quality of exhibitors and speakers at the next cannabis event you choose to attend. 

One of the cornerstones of NACB is that our members are vetted — meaning, they have to pass a system of checks and balances to ensure they are ethical, legal, compliant, and much more. The events you attend should consider doing the same. Does the event take the time to verify and check into all who are exhibiting, speaking, and trying to solicit business from the industry? While this is a component we’d like to see, we know that this takes time and expense in implementing a vetting program. 

Until these vetting systems are in place with industry events, here are some of the steps you can take and questions to ask before buying your tickets:

What do your industry partners, colleagues, and friends say about this event? Did they believe they got their ROI?

Is the show sponsor a trade association you belong to or are at least familiar with? If so, you may be able to find some helpful reviews by people you trust and deepen the value of your association membership at the same time.

Does the organizer post a list of exhibitors on its website?

A little research should tell you if they’re offering goods and services of interest that are right for the industry.

Set up some meetings with attendees and vendors ahead of time to discuss business opportunities. Try to come home with some solid new ideas, if not deals.

There are no hard and fast rules, but another way to vet the quality of trade show exhibitors is to look at the cost of exhibitor space and quality of booth design. If it’s high-end compared to other shows, then you know exhibitors and attendees are expecting strong value from the chance to meet each other.  

Does the value justify the expense?

If you follow some of these trade show guidelines for vetting your participation, you will be on your way to measuring your ROI. Best of all, you’ll have solid opportunities and an education that will help carry your business further. 

Gina Kranwinkel

Patricia Miller is the Managing Editor for Cannabis & Tech Today. She covers science, technology, and policy shaping the legal cannabis industry. Miller is also an avid kayaker with a proclivity for picnicking. Follow her work on Twitter @_PMiller.

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