Over the weekend, I made my way to Gikondo to see for myself what the Rwanda International Trade Fair, also known simply as Expo2012, had to offer. To say that I made my way is an understatement; I had to wade through the maze of traffic that clogged the road from Rwandex all the way to the gates.
As my Moto taxi guy made his way through the traffic, often resorting to the pedestrians’ pavement, I could not help but feel sorry for those in the four wheelers who were stuck in traffic with neither the option to go back nor the guarantee of finding parking space ahead.
I soon realised that the organisers of this annual event have to seriously think of how to address the issue of parking. The current parking space is just too small and is often used up by the exhibitors who park from morning to evening often occupying the same parking slots for the whole day.
Making my way to the gate was also another struggle. Although there were people selling tickets the was very little sense of order as the queues were being disrespected leading to more clogging at the gates with people pushing and shoving, unknowingly creating a suitable atmosphere for thieves interested in “borrowing” show goers’ phones.
Inside the grounds, it was the same story as people gradually snaked through from one end to the other. One is always interrupted by the hand of a long lost friend as well as the different attractions on display. I took time to figure out which of the exhibitors were pulling in the crowds and putting their message across.
After doing my rounds, I came to the conclusion that the stalls that had demonstrations were having an edge over the others. The best example is that of the guys with vegetable cutters. These guys with their audio headsets spend time demonstrating how cooking can be fun with these gadgets and end up winning the hearts of onlookers with many buying one for their items.
I also noticed a company that deals in hair products from a vibrant stall. These guys had enough salon equipment and were actually giving ladies a real hair treat at the expo. If this does not win them new clients, then I don’t know what will. The fact is that those stalls where someone demonstrates how a product is made or used always get more eyes glued than those that do not.
I noticed many dull stalls with just lone traders standing or sitting and waiting for people to approach them and ask questions. In some of these stalls, the attendants are lazier than the guy who designed the Japanese flag. When you walk over and ask them about the company, all they do is hand you a brochure and continue with their business.
Of course, others prefer to be entertaining with loud music and skimpily dressed dancers to attract people. However, those attracted are often people interested in watching the dancers as opposed to what actually the exhibitor has to offer.
Exhibitors who wish to exploit such opportunities ought to remember the time tested adage… “Show, don’t tell”.
Give the show goers an experience they can take away from the show not just a brochure.