Monthly Archives: January, 2017

Over head shot of Wicker Park

Get away from the trade show for a minute

January 23rd, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Get away from the trade show for a minute”

It is important to get away from the trade show for a minute, a few hours, or if possible, an afternoon. When I travel to other cities for shows, I try to do at least one local thing. For me, this means something that is not touristy and not in the central downtown district or right near the show location. And usually for me, it involves eating.

City of Neighborhoods

Chicago is often called a city of neighborhoods. Each small area used to be dominated by one ethnic group or another. You can still find ethnic neighborhoods, they are just not as concentrated as they used to be. Get out into the neighborhoods.  This is where you will find the real Chicago. I’m coming up on my 14th year as a citizen of Chicago. I actually live in the city in one of these storied neighborhoods. All of the places I’m recommending are places I enjoy. I am not getting any consideration from them for the recommendation.

Walking distance

McCormick Place

If you are attending a show at McCormick Place, Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood is within walking distance for most people. It’s a fifteen minute walk. There are some great Chinese-American restaurants there and cool fun shopping. I recommend you check out Three Happiness Restaurant (

Downtown aka The Loop

If you are staying in the Loop (Chicago’s downtown) or your show is there, you can walk to a few different neighborhoods depending on where you are staying. If you are Michigan Ave at the Marriott or the Inter Continental, you can walk to River North in 15 minutes. I would recommend checking out the Green Door Tavern. It’s one of the oldest taverns in Chicago and I feel it has real Chicago Charm. The building is actually sinking into the notoriously unstable Chicago dirt. So, the door itself is at a very odd angle (

If you are in the West part of the Loop near Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower) you have to go to Greek town! It’s also about a 15 minute walk. While there check out the few specialty shops and then head over to The Greek Islands ( for a great meal!

Taking the “L”

I’ve noticed that many things in this article so far have quotation marks around them. That’s because in Chicago most things have their real name and then the name we call things. The “L”, “EL”, Elevated train or CTA is one of those quintessential Chicago things. And for my money, one of the best ways to see the neighborhoods.

From McCormick Place

McCormick place seems to be unnecessarily inconvenient to get to.  It’s a 15 minute walk to the nearest train station or a 5- 10 minute bus ride. Even though the train is called The El (short for elevated) not all lines are above ground at all stops. So, don’t let that throw you off. If there isn’t a major Cubs Game, jump on the Red Line heading TOWARD HOWARD. This will take you toward downtown and then underground. Just stick with it! When you come back out from underground you will be at the Fullerton Stop; go a few more stops to Addison. You’ll have a great view of Wrigley Field right from the train platform. Check out the Cubs store and get your picture in front of the iconic marquee. After you soak up all your sports you can walk east to East Wrigleyville also known as Boystown. It’s Chicago’s gay neighborhood. If that’s not your scene don’t be put off. It’s an amazing neighborhood. While there go to the Chicago Diner ( Yes, it’s a vegetarian diner and if you didn’t know that and where just feed the food you would never guess it! It’s SO GOOD.

From the Loop

From the loop you can grab a train to almost anywhere. I would recommend getting on the Brown line toward Kimball. There is something about the Brown Line that seems quaint to me for some reason. I don’t know if it’s because they use smaller trains, that the brown line is never underground, or that out toward the end of the line, it is actually at street level like a street car or trolley but I find the Brown Line to be less hustle and bustle than the other lines.  On the Brown Line get off at Western and walk 1 block Northeast to Lincoln Square. The whole neighborhood has become known as Lincoln Square but the actual square is just Northeast of the station. There you will find some cool shops and the Chicago Brauhaus ( If you like giant portions of German food, this is the place! Also on the weekend there is a live band and polka dancing. After dinner or lunch at the Brauhaus walk Southeast on Lincoln (it’s one of Chicago’s diagonal streets). In a few block you will come to the Davis Movie theater, a great old theater that has been around since the twenties and the Old Town School of Folk Music. The Old Town School often has concerts of folk and traditional music so check out the schedule ( ).

By Car

Even though Chicago is still the country’s third biggest city, it’s not hard to drive in. If you are bringing your car or you want to hop in a cab or ride share service to really get away from it all, your options are endless.

From McCormick Place

If you have a car or are paying a fair you don’t want to just drive all over the place. I would recommend heading over to the Bridgeport Neighborhood. If you have heard of the Chicago South Side Irish, this is one of the places to find them. You will also find the home of the Chicago White Sox there. And any trip to Bridgeport would be remiss without stopping at Schaller’s Pump. They are so old school they don’t even have a website but check out Yelp for info ( If you miss eating in your Gramma’s kitchen, Schaller’s is the place for you.

From the Loop

If you have your car with you and you are heading out of town or are up for a super fun adventure I have one for you. I call it, three parts of the world in 1 day! For exact directions use Google maps or something. Here is a thumbnail sketch of the plan. Head North out of the Loop on Lake Shore drive. Admire the amazing view of the lake and get off at Lawrence Ave. You will be in Uptown. Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood was the Harlem of 1920’s Chicago. It was where our Black Renaissance took place. On the corner of Broadway and Lawrence you will both the Green Mill, a historic bar and jazz club ( and Demara, ( an excellent Ethiopian restaurant. Head north on Broadway to Argyle street. There you will find Chicago’s Vietnamese neighborhood. Go to Tank Noodle at the corner of Broadway and Argyle ( and check out the shops on Argyle and along Broadway. In just a few blocks you can travel from 1920’s Chicago, to Ethiopia, and then to Vietnam!

All Work and No Play…

You know the old saying about all work and no play making “Jack a dull boy.” I think it’s a bit more than that. All work: standing on hard floors under artificial light just isn’t good for you. You need to get outside. So, I hope my little guide of a few things you can do in Chicago is a help. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at 

Trade Show Trends for 2017

January 10th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Trade Show Trends for 2017”

The Top Trade Show Trend for 2017

Education across the board will be the number one trend of trade shows of all levels in 2017. We are not talking about college level lectures here, we are talking about fun informative and usually interactive booths that will draw a crowd and turn them into knowledgeable clients.

In the Booth

Just another Pretty Face

Attractions like “booth babes” and celebrity appearances will continue to decline and be replaced by specialized professional presenters. Sensitivities to the objectification of women will make the “booth babe” all but nonexistent in shows other than electronic and gaming shows geared toward young men. Companies will continue to investigate their ROI on a celebrity appearance and will find that that most of them do not meet their goals. Both of these attractions can be high on the “get people into the booth” measurement but that is where their effectiveness ends. Unable to educate prospects or qualify leads, these attention grabbers will fade away.

Brains behind the Face

Whether it’s an actor working from a scripted presentation or a fully customized “info-tainment” production (more on that later), companies will be moving to exhibits that not just draw people in but tell their story. In a world cluttered with graphics and animation, real people engaging with other people will stand out.


Info-tainment is a term that has been around since the 1980’s. You may be thinking of Ron Popeil and Billy Mays types yelling from your booth but techniques have changed in the last 30+ years.  Professional “infotainers” use magic, juggling, tricks, stunts, and even game shows to bring people into your booth, educate them on your product or service, and then turn only the qualified leads over to your sales staff. This increases your amount of leads without increasing the number of junk leads and allows your staff to do it’s job; setting up appointments, and not working on attracting and sifting leads.

Out of the booth

Off of their feet

Trade show attendees are often looking for a quick respite; a place to get off their feet. Show planners are replacing standing phone charging stations with lounge areas with outlets. Coffee stands are becoming coffee bars. Some shows are even offering hosted “chill out lounges.” These places are great to continue to educate your prospects. A sponsorship of one of these off the trade show floor areas with a great call to action can reinforce your educational message.

After the Show

The hospitality suite has been a long time favorite of companies looking to continue their interaction with clients and prospects. The old model of “booze and schmooze” is on it’s way out. Yes, hospitality suites will continue to have food and drink but in order to increase the ROI companies need to use info-tainment. A jazzy piano player is nice but does nothing to help educate your clients on your latest offering. A band can be fun but how does a sales person continue to build a relationship with a client or prospect over the din of rock and roll? At major shows there can be dozens of hospitality suites happening each night. What will make yours stand out? This is where a magician, comedian, juggler, or other specialized info-tainer can not only entertainer your guests but remind them of your USP.

Education is Key

Right next to finding a good lead; educating a prospect on your product or service is the most important part of the sales process. In 2017 companies will be looking for ways to increase their ROI on their trade show booths and education is the key to that. You can give out all the pens and business cards you want but if the crowd doesn’t know what you do, you are sunk.

Experience the "Wizard of Sorts"


Edd Fairman, Wizard of Sorts
Chicago, IL 60645
(773) 818-0195




magician in Chicago