by Tom Isler | May 01, 2007

Building a golf course

Steve Miller is an idea man. Measurement and analysis of design experiments are essential, he says, but he starts with the big picture and works his way down to the details.

“You hear people talk and say a trade show is a trade show is a trade show,” Miller says. “Our objective is never to say that.”

If a show looks and feels like any other, Miller adds, “the customer, whether it’s the attendee or the exhibitor, automatically forms a perception of what the value is.” One of Miller’s goals for his show clients is to create a strong brand identity that will inspire pride from the attendees, who, he likes to remind his clients, dedicate their lives to these industries.

Floor map of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America show

To enhance the
Golf Industry Show,
Caroline Gollier added
diagonal aisles that
converged in the
middle of the floor.

Exhibitors begin building the green

Where the aisles intersected,
exhibitors were asked to build
a functional green from scratch.

Work on the green continues

As the green took shape,
the attendees --
golf course superintendents --
“could not stay away.”

The finished green

Gollier says the feature
created a huge buzz,
set a positive tone for the show
and kept attendees on the show floor.

This was the thought process that led Miller and a client, Lawrence, Kan.-based Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, to devise a proto-hub-and-spoke design for the Golf Industry Show held in Orlando in 2005. The goal was not to organize information in a more efficient way, but to focus attention on the show floor’s main attraction, placed smack-dab in the center: the building of a green.

“We thought, what can we do that would instill pride in the attendees?” Miller explains. “The attendees are superintendents. Superintendents love to play in the dirt.”

Caroline Gollier, trade show manager for the GCSAA, carved out space on the floor for an area where, over the course of the three-day event, engineers would construct a full-size green from scratch. Diagonal aisles radiated out from the green, requiring some exhibitors to construct booths with a diagonal edge.

The upshot? “The superintendents absolutely could not stay away,” Miller recalls. “It was like a magnet that kept sucking them back.”

Gollier says feedback was hugely positive, and the diagonal aisles, while rendering booths challenging to number in a logical way, also worked well. The main problem (aside from occasional noise and stray dirt) was that the design “ate up a lot of sellable space.” Gollier says she’s planning a similar design for 2008, when the show returns to Orlando, but as the show maxed out convention centers in Atlanta and Anaheim during the past two years, she didn’t have the luxury to add extra aisles.