Conference/Convention Suitcasing & Crashing: Prevention

Sep 25, 2015


Information on what convention attendees and exhibitors can do to prevent suitcasing and crashing at trade shows and conferences.


Another post looked at the problem of people crashing conventions, and suitcasing at trade shows and conferences. The crashing issue is frustrating for everyone who pays to register – why should you pay if others are just going to crash? It's annoying to know that part of your registration fee is going to buy food and drinks for crashers that didn't.

Suitcasing is an even bigger issue for those that pay to exhibit in the trade show or supplier expos at conferences. They pay a lot of money for the opportunity to meet with customers, and suitcasers are getting that same opportunity for free. Again knowing that the customers are only there because the exhibition fee is used to promote the event makes it incredibly frustrating - the suitcasers are parasites that are getting a free ride on your coattails. And when the suitcasers also crashed the event... that just adds insult to injury.


Let's be honest. Suitcasing and outboarding are just other words for theft!

Lew Shomer, president and CEO, Shomex Productions


After experiencing both suitcasers and crashers at a recent convention several vendors talked about how we can avoid this frustration next time.

The first thing we realized is that it really depends on the experience of the organizer, and the lifespan of the event. A large, longstanding conference, run by an experienced organizer will almost certainly have a clear policy about suticasing and crashing in place. The only people that hate suitcasers and crashers more than exhibitors are organizers, and the experienced ones simply will not tolerate it.

Organizers such as these will typically spell out their policy towards suitcasers and crashers on their website and/or registration forms and exhibitor contracts. If you can't find their policies simply ask.

If they tell you they don't have a policy it may be a smaller, newer conference, run by a less experienced organizer. They may not even know what suitcasing is, or why it is bad!


Many organizations abhor suitcasing and outboarding, but don't discuss how to control it, particularly when a tweet might invite everyone to an event where products are showcased outside the show.

Joan Eisenstodt, chief strategist, Eisenstodt Associates LLC


This is where the exhibitor really needs to get involved, and I'll be way more active here in the future. If they don't have a suitcasing policy you should ask for one, and direct them to any of the excellent resources on the subject. There are lots of example and available boilerplate that they can add to their own registration and exhibition documentation.

Once a policy is in place it's up to the exhibitors to help expose suitcasing. If you see someone doing it, you need to let the organizers know immediately. You have established that there is a policy in place, now you need to give them a chance to enforce it. In almost all cases the organizers will be far too busy to spot suitcasing, so you need to bring it to their attention.


If the industry doesn't report it when it occurs, then it will continue to exist.

Steven Marchese, CTSM, manager, corporate events, Fujifilm Medical Systems USA Inc.


Same thing with crashing. Because this is more personal you need to be more diligent. In many cases organizers, especially if they can't delegate to security, will be hesitant to get involved in calling out a crasher – an awkward and unpleasant experience. You need to make sure that you know there is a crasher, and that you know they know. That is your best way to get action.



Suitcasing Resources

If the organizer of your conference or convention is not familiar with suitcasing, or does not have a policy in place, direct them to one of these sites. The goal is to get them to include a suitcasing clause in their registration forms and exhibitor contracts.


Suitcasing Tool Kit From The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)

This organization has created a Suitcasing Tool Kit for event organizers. It designed to help them handle situations of suitcasing abuse and/or allegations that may arise at a show in a timely, efficient and discreet manner. The models included in the kit can be incorporated into the overall show plan and distributed to participating exhibitors as a clear guideline of the organizer's position on suitcasing.


Examples of Suitcasing Boilerplate

Examples of the language some large trade shows and conferences use to spell out their position on suitcasing.

Category: Selling

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Suitcasing and Crashing Conventions & Conferences

Vendors that crash and/or practice "suitcasing" at conventions, conferences and trade shows are stealing from you. Don't deal with them.

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