Would You Buy From a Supplier That Is Stealing From You?


Suppliers often crash and/or suitcase conventions. Attendees may not understand it, but it means they’re dealing with vendors that are stealing from them.

Have you ever been an attendee at a conference, convention or trade show and seen a supplier that didn’t have a badge? If so they’re crashing, and there are serious implications.

Of course they won’t admit they’re crashing. The usual explanation is that they “just happened” to be there, or were just “passing through” but that is an out right lie. It’s the same kinds of vendors, often the very same people, that peddle this nonsense at different events and venues year after year.

They’re asking you to believe something so ludicrous (that they just happened to be at the same convention center everyone else had a hard time getting to, at just the right time) that you should be offended. They are insulting your intelligence.

Another classic explanation is that they didn’t think they were supposed to pay. Imagine you are at a conference for florists… the explanation is “well, I’m not really a florist, I sell to florists, and it’s great to see all these potential customers together in one place, but I’m not a florist so I don’t think I’m expected to pay or anything, I can just chat with you all and eat and drink for free.”

Again – a complete insult to your intelligence. In fact this is worse because vendors aren’t just expected to pay, they’re expected to pay MORE.

This is where suitcasing comes in:

Suitcasing is a parasitic business practice in which unethical companies will gain access to an event by obtaining some type of event credential (attendee badge, expo-only badge, etc.) and then solicit business in the aisles or other public spaces used for the conference. This practice skirts the support of the organizer and the industry. This does not pertain solely to soliciting the attendees of an event. As we all know, some of your biggest customers/vendors can be other exhibiting companies. So, when a salesperson for “Joe’s Manufacturing” (who is not exhibiting) shows up in your booth in an attempt to earn your business … they are suitcasing.

Definition of Suitcasing From Meetings & Conventions

Please note suitcasing and crashing are two different things. A crasher might also be guilty of suitcasing (two different sins) but a paid attendee can also be guilty of suitcasing. Both highly unethical practices appeal to deadbeats who will crash and suitcase a conference or convention.

How do you know if a supplier is suitcasing? If they don’t have an exhibit space (like a table or booth in the trade fair or supplier expo) and they approach and try and sell you something… they’re suitcasing.

Again there are all kinds of excuses, but none of them matter. Your supplier is committing one of the worst crimes in the convention business. They have proven themselves to be unethical and you should stop doing business with them.

They are also hurting you, the event, your association and the industry. Presumably you pay to attend the event because you see value in it. By choosing to not pay, by crashing and or suitcasing, the supplier is undermining the ability of the association to run a worthwhile event that will benefit the attendees. If nobody paid to attend and/or exhibit the entire thing would, obviously, break down.

And that is why they are stealing from you. When you see that crasher eating breakfast or drinking at the reception remember… you’re paying for that!

These suppliers are thieves and deadbeats. Support the vendors that support your association, event and industry by paying to participate.


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