The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry Breaks Through the Affordability Ceiling with Ecommerce and the Cloud

AWCI logoThe Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI) hosts between 2,300 and 2,500 participants (including representatives from approximately 150 exhibitors) at its annual Convention and INTEX Expo. The event keeps business owners, foremen, and project managers in the interior and exterior commercial construction industry up to date on the latest tools, products, and services available in the industry. In 2015, a2z helped organizers break through the walls of revenue and affordability.

Searching for an affordable solution

Prior to 2015, AWCI had been processing booth contracts manually. They used an accounting program to create invoices and an Access database to keep track of contract information. Twice a week the accountant ran credit card payments through a machine. “We were doing everything ourselves. It was time consuming and took lots of paperwork for the accountant to process a payment,” say Kim MacLean, Manager, Trade Shows and Events Management at AWCI.

To remedy the situation and, according to MacLean, “get with the times,” the association searched for an online exhibitor contract system that automated the booth sales process and provided their exhibitors with more opportunities for exposure. Finding a solution was difficult though because of budgetary restrictions; the association needed a business model that would make the solution affordable.

Creativity from the cloud

In 2015, AWCI entered a strategic partnership with a2z to sell enhanced eBooth listings and digital opportunities to exhibitors using a2z’s ecommerce-enabled Online Exhibit Contracts (OEC) solution. The a2z platform made it possible for the association to process booth sales, contracts, payments, and confirmations online and offer digital profiles containing unlimited product names, photos, press releases, show specials, new product announcements, logos, and videos to exhibitors. The arrangement put OEC within reach from a budget perspective and allowed the association to earn additional revenue.

Excellent first-year results

AWCI experienced positive results in a number of areas using the a2z platform:

Higher productivity. AWCI was able to significantly reduce the amount of time it took to internally process an exhibitor contract. “Our exhibitors appreciate efficiency. Producing invoices online is super fast with a2z,” MacLean says.

Increased privacy. Automated payments helped protect customer information. “It’s a lot safer for the exhibitor to send payment information online. At least you’re not faxing over a PDF with credit card information on it,” MacLean explains.

Extra revenue. The a2z solution was adopted by 81% of exhibitors and 9.8% of exhibitors purchased new digital products.

Additional awareness. a2z launched a well-planned and comprehensive promotional campaign to onboard exhibitors and educate attendees. Higher than average email open and click through rates contributed to the program’s success.

All in for 2016

In the first year of the partnership with a2z, AWCI implemented the ecommerce-enabled Online Exhibit Contracts system after booth sales had already begun for the 2015 show cycle. Despite having processed 60 to 65 paper contracts, MacLean and her team were able to process another 90 exhibitors through a2z’s online solution.

For 2016, all booth sales are being processed through the web portal and MacLean is eliminating all of the manual systems she used as backups in the first year of the transition.

On the very first day of the booth sales being opened for 2016, 41 contracts were submitted. In addition, within the first two days, the value of the add-ons and sponsorships sold surpassed the total revenue from the 2015 program.

The AWCI group is also adding a2z’s Attendee Acquisition and eBooth Promotion Widget for exhibitors to help boost attendance.