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The Suite Life at Summit


Private meeting spaces have been part of Summit since the first one convention more than 100 years ago. Today more than ever, hospitality suites are heavily utilized by finance companies and manufacturers with established dealer networks and finance companies. “Because Summit is traditionally scheduled at the beginning of the calendar year,” says Jon Cruthers, AED’s vice president of sales, “manufacturers find it an ideal time to meet with the dealer executives [who] attend.” Finance companies also appreciate the privacy of meetings in the suites to for conducting detailed discussions with corporate executives.

To make the best use of their time, most suite participants preschedule meetings. For even more time-savings, attendees can use the Summit app to keep track of meeting agendas, breakout schedules, and presentations and more. Recent updates to the app provide details about the participating companies so attendees can get more specific information.

Feedback indicates that both participants suite hosts and attendees value the advantages the suites offer. We asked some members what else they like about the suites.

Constantino Lannes, president of Sennebogen, has been hosting suites since 1997, but Sennebogen first came in 2004. Known for material handling equipment, they don’t participate in CONDEX because their equipment is too big to bring, but they find a lot of value in the suites.

What are the benefits for your business? Do you pick up new business through them?

We like the opportunity to meet a large number of dealers in three days; it would take six or seven weeks of traveling to connect with that many people. We use suites to reinforce relationships. Any new connections we make are by accident, unless we have a territory open and we’re looking for candidates. The company principals aren’t walking the show; They want private meetings.

We hold one-and-a-half-hour meetings with dealers to do a high-level review of the previous year and plan for the next year. We work on relationships.

All our meetings are pre-planned. We hold meetings from 7 a.m. until 6 or 6:30 p.m. and use dinners to meet in the evening for extra time and for those we can’t fit into the daytime schedule. We always have people in the suite who aren’t involved in a meeting in case someone stops by, but we start scheduling in mid-October.

AED attracts a very different audience compared to other shows. At other shows, it’s mostly end -users. At AED, it’s dealers. High levels of management attend.

Marie-Elaine Dion, marketing manager for tracked vehicles at Prinoth Ltd., says the Italian company, that which manufactures crawler carriers, rubber-track dumps for pipelines and shore erosion control, and industrial mulching equipment, decided to develop a dealer network in 2014 and identified AED as a channel to meet dealers, principally because it offers a “good meeting platform.”

What are the benefits for your business? Do you pick up new business through them?

The suites are effective to introduce ourselves. We have met the best customers through the show. We have met a dealer at every single show.

We rent booth space to show our products and help people recognize us, but we close the deal and continue conversations in the suites. AED supplies a list so we can do pre-show contacting to set up meetings. We look for a certain fit, but some companies seek us.

 Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The quality of attendees is good; there are actual companies looking to represent brands. They have a clear purpose. People at bigger shows are looking, but people at Summit are serious, so you get more bang for the buck. It’s a great base of heavy equipment members.

Chris Saucedo, vice president of sales and marketing for Liugong Construction and  Machinery North America, says the suites are of particular value for a company trying to establish its brand.

What is turnout like? Has it changed over the years? How do you get attendees interested?

We engage with dealers and subject matter experts at Summit.

What are the benefits for your business? Do you pick up new business through them?

The core thing is to establish a presence; we have no brand recognition here. This is a marketing opportunity to tell our story and build brand recognition. It’s not a transactional show where we’re writing orders.

The suites allow us to engage a variety of distributors and vendors in one location. We apply the discipline of quarterly business meetings, but Zoom calls don’t replace an opportunity to sit across the table and hear their story. Meeting in person adds an element of trust. This gives us an opportunity to host and entertain – to build relationships. You don’t do $100,000 deals over the internet.

This is a targeted show with the dealers we seek to engage. It’s also a smaller show that you can do in a day. We don’t get lost in the sauce. It’s less expensive too. Dollar for dollar, square foot for square foot, this opportunity surpasses CONEXPO for B2B.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We like to attend the workshops. The curriculum is phenomenal in understanding trends and it gives us an opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices.

Darren Grahsl, senior vice president of, BOK Financial, says his company has been going to Summit for about 10-15 years. They prefer to have suites for slightly different reasons than many of the other vendors.

What is turnout like? Has it changed over the years? How do you get attendees interested?

We set up a number of meetings before the event, some people randomly drop by, and we run into some and schedule meetings.

Economic cycles impact demand. In 2020 this industry has fared better than others; we have 150 customers nationwide. We originated a number of new relationships this year, although not as many as in 2018 and 2019.

What are the benefits for your business? Do you pick up new business through them?

Summit is the most important show of the year. It’s of particular benefit because the decision makers are in attendance. It attracts a large representative group of dealers from across the country. It’s a very targeted audience.

It’s the one time of year to meet with a large number of dealers in a couple of days. We get to meet with existing and prospective customers.

We’re a bank. As a financial company, we deal with sensitive information. The people we meet with want privacy. We try to be discreet. The suites provide a more intimate setting that is not loud or public. We pull the bed out and put in a table to hold meetings in private.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The suite is just one part of it. Breakfast meetings, networking functions like the Gala, dinners we host, and even casual meetings at the lobby bar in the evenings are a great opportunity to see lots of customers and build relationships. You do business with people you like – that’s a key component of business, so relationship-building is important.

We recognize the value that AED provides to the industry; it’s a well-known organization and we are long-time supporters. 

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