Robin Cornelison, Director, Trade Show at IDFA
Robin Cornelison, Director, Trade Show at IDFA

In another installment of our “Day in the Life” series, we get to know the talented Robin Cornelison, CEM, Director, Trade Show, at the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), and we like her for more than the free ice cream she and her colleagues send over to our offices.

Robin has been with IDFA for six and half years, working on the successful branding of the International Dairy Show, which recently took honors on Trade Show Executive magazine’s Top 50 fastest growing shows. Robin and I had a chat about her background and what makes her so successful in the trade show industry. Here is a snippet of our conversation (minus the laughs).

How did you come to meeting planning as your profession?

I started off at an ad agency evaluating trade shows for clients—looking at the ROI of participating in a show and how that could be used in the marketing mix. That led to marketing on the client side, using that evaluation process at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and working on ads and sponsorship opportunities for our events. A few years later, I joined IAEE and then earned my CEM while working here at IDFA.

What would you say you need to know about your job (or be really good at) that others may not realize or know?
You have to have people skills. We work with a lot of diverse types of people. And, of course, you need to know what “pipe and drape” is. People outside the industry look at me funny when I say that but it’s all about the operational details. Things such as how much do your attendees drink? Because if you have a long line at a bar, your attendees won’t be happy.

And it’s hard to turn it all off. When I go to other shows, I’m constantly evaluating—their pipe and drape is all wrong, or who is in charge because they are doing a fantastic job with the decorations, etc.

The Dairy Show stages every other year in the fall. Other than the weeks leading up to the show, when is your busiest time of the year?

Probably 18 months out. We need to finalize vendors and a number of operational details, and work out details with our co-location partners. I’m also working on some of our other events and getting the young professionals in our industry out and participating in our NextGen conference.

The Dairy Show does a great job increasing engagement between exhibitors and attendees on the show floor. Tell us a bit about what you do and why?

There are lots of things I want to do in addition to these, but in 2013, we placed our receptions on the show floor to move people into the exhibit hall. In 2015, we are moving all the education sessions on the floor and turning the last hour of the show into a happy hour. We are encouraging everyone to network in a friendly environment.

If you could have a magical/super power while you’re onsite, what would it be?

I’m already Wonder Woman in real life, but the invisible jet isn’t so practical, so I think I’d want the ability to fly so I could get from one place to another easily. And cloning myself would help, too.

Thanks Robin! We think you’re Wonder Woman as well. Good luck with the 2015 Dairy Show and we look forward to continue working with you to put the Dairy Show on the top 50 list!