Value of trade shows

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In this chapter will the methodological framework be presented on how the data is collected and how the data is analyzed to answer the research questions. The methodological framework is a basis for the trustworthiness of this study. The chapter begins with the overall research strategy and then later more explicitly what have been conducted.

Research strategy

There are two theoretical perspectives applicable in social science one is positivism and the other is phenomenological. Positivism is seeking facts and causes of social occurrences separated from individuals. Phenomenological is the effort of understanding social occurrences from the subjects own viewpoint. A phenomenological approach is usually carried out with different qualitative me-thods and vice versa (Taylor & Bogdan, 1984). Since the topic of this study is highly connected to different actor‟s behavior in a TS setting, a phenomenological approach is preferred in this thesis. Therefore this thesis continues with the use of qualitative studies when approaching the purpose.
Concepts, understanding of patterns and insights are developed by the researcher in a qualitative method. The aim is to understand people using their own frame of reference; this lets the re-searcher look at individuals or groups as a whole. But this also makes qualitative research sensi-tive to the effect a research has on the actual behavior of the subjects of study. The target of any qualitative study is to understand other people‟s perspectives, this makes qualitative methods more humanistic since the aim is not figures or numbers but instead the study is focused towards personality, experience and perceptions (Taylor & Bogdan, 1984).
There are four basic methods to ask people, interviews, questionnaires, readings and observations (Kylén, 2004). Readings and questionnaires were not considered as appropriate and only inter-views and observations were used in this thesis. Open interviews are preferred due to the limited time we can ask of the visitors at a TS.
When conducting interviews a layout of what is to be covered is beneficial to have. A question guide helps the interviewer with the topics of interest that are to be covered. The guide could be shared with the interview object. A guide is useful for an open interview while question list is bet-ter for a controlled interview (Kylén, 2004).
Open or controlled interview is the two primary ways to interview people (Kylén, 2004). Less controlled interviews, as used in this study, have question topics instead of direct questions. The questions in the guide are direct formulated but should be regarded as topics that were not strict-ly followed.
The funnel model is a foundation for how an interview could be developed. It consist of differ-ent stages such as opening, free statements, precision, control, information and closure. The normal situation calls for abandoning the model during interview but to keep the model in mind and to adjust the order of the questions to suit the funnel model (Kylén, 2004).
Free observations means that everything that is relevant should be accounted for and the docu-mentation is made by free words in written or voice recorded form. There are different ways to structure free observations such as diary notes, continuous description and critical incidents (Kylén, 2004).

Research design

Questionnaire is a good solution when people are spread and hard to meet with in person. The questions of a questionnaire could be both open and closed but they cannot be followed up upon when an interesting answer is given. There are obvious problems with managing questionnaires on a big TS as Hannover Messe, even in digital format there is little possibility to get a good re-sult from questionnaires in this case. Leaving us with two suitable approaches that is interviews and observations. After careful consideration there were four ways that these methods could be carried out in order to look into the purpose of the paper.
These four data collection-methods are one type of interview and three types of observations. The purpose of this thesis is the actual BL, therefore it is needed to study the mentioned SRs with a observations study made in a diary format with free observations, meaning that everything that is considered by the observer11 to be of importance should be noted (Kylén, 2004).
Also the receiver is important in the observations study but the voice of the visitors was not heard. Therefore quick interviews with different categorizes of visitors were conducted. In order to actually measure the successfulness of the booth and BL a second observational method is used with the particular notion of frequencies. And lastly since the observers were into the TS setting a more general observation was made with surplus observational material. This could be the informal chat over a beverage at a diner or the behavior of some actors within the TS.
This study is also limited to study five Swedish companies at Hannover Messe. Limiting the study to only one nationality in an international environment makes a possibility so limiting the cultural aspects that can occur at an international TS. Due to the fact that the cultural aspect from the SR is eliminated this research has a possibility to study how the SRs in different companies adapt the BL and behavior to the cultural settings in an international environment.

Testing the methods

One week before the actual travel and research was done dry runs were conducted at a smaller TS in Jönköping. This was to evaluate the questions and methods used. Some fine adjustments were the result of the testing. Errors like double meaning questions, new better questions and re-vised method of working were the biggest adjustments.

Observation of booth

The actual reading of BL is needed in this case and the only possible way to do this is through free observation. The preparations constituted of observation guide, equilibrate to question guide, containing matter to search for in the observations. With the observation guide in mind a blank piece of paper and 15 minutes constituted of one observation. There were four observa-tions for each booth so that each booth would get one full hour of observation during the three days that the research was conducted.
11 The persons who is conducting the research and is observing companies and booths at the TS
The observation was noted in paper and later transcribed into digital form for readability, in the format of diary notes.

Frequency study

The frequency study is inspired from an example from Kylén (p108-109, 2004) and used in the research done by Williams, Gopalakrishna and Cox (1993). Although the later uses the whole time span of the TS, a more realistic approach was to measure the visitors‟ behavior within a time limit. Therefore will this data collection method consist of an observer that categorize all visitors currently present into four different kinds, A, B, C and D visitors, the frequency of those catego-ries was then noted on an observation blanket.
The A category consist of visitors that walk past without looking at the booth, the B category is visitors that looking at the booth but avoid it and not having any interaction with the booth, visi-tors in the C category has no personal interaction and could have been walking into the booth, lastly those who speak with the SRs is referred to as D category visitors. The observers have made the rule that it is the highest level that counts, e.g. when a B person levels up to a C person then the visitors is noted as a C. It is implicit that the SRs wants to level up people from A to B and from B to C etc.
The definition of a visitor is a person that at some time is present in the direct vicinity of the booth in question. An A visitor would be those of the visitors that not would take notice of the booth in question but just pass it. Just a look at the booth would be enough to disqualify them for the A category and letting them enter the B category. The B category is when a visitor has no-ticed the booth in question, with a look, stopping by it or in any other obvious way having senses from the booth within his or her consciousness. If one visitor would start to interact with the booth for instance to walk into it, touching samples, taking brochures or in any other way signifi-cantly show interest they would be categorized as a C visitor. The rest would be D visitors, these are a B or C visitor that goes further and to actually talks with a SR.
During different times each of the five booths were monitored by an observer taking notes of how many A, B, C or D persons that passed the booth. A minimum of 100 frequencies was set and filled within each booth. The ratings or percentage of A´s of total or B of total etc., would give an impression of the booths performance. The observation blankets are to be found in Frequency study at section 8.3.

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Visitor interviews

Two sets of interview guides were developed. One for the A and B categorized and one interview guide was done for the C and D categorized visitors. Same categorized as used in the previous frequency study. Both these guides are to be found in the appendix sections 8.1 and 8.2. People who have passed the studied booth were asked to be interviewed about their experience or lack of the same. These visitors were informed about the purpose and the background as of the re-searching purpose. In estimation half of the asked people gladly allowed to be interviewed and the interviews were short in order not to disturb the visitor on their busy day, a normal interview took five minutes.
For each booth of our investigation, six interviews of each interview guide was carried out, mean-ing in total that twelve visitors was asked for each booth and leading to a total of sixty interview on the TS.
Notes were taken straight after the interview, a lesson learned from the test TS in Sweden, in or-der to have a fluent interview with good follow up questions. This way the interviewer could fo-cus on what was being said and what to ask later.
The funnel model was used when possible, since the interviews are kept short there was no time to go deep in any stage, but there was a thought that each stage should be considered. The open-ing stage was mandatory by the Hannover Messe in the sense of introducing the purpose, authors and the voluntariness.

General observation

When the authors were visiting the Hannover Messe there were a lot of impressions, leads and things that was hard not to be observable. On the way between the booths and also in some visits to other parts of the TS, stumbling upon impressions that are useful for the thesis. Also following up on leads from visitors is located in this line of investigation. These observations was discussed and noted after the TS.


This study has used triangulation in the sense of applying different data collection methods that overlap each other. The overlapping areas should confirm each other and adding to the reliability of the studied performed. The benefits are increased reliability since multiple data collection me-thods could support or reject the conclusions drawn in the results. When using just one data col-lection method, there is a larger risk of bias (Taylor & Bogdan, 1984).


The material collected that builds this research all come from the industry TS of Hannover Messe in April 4-8 2011. This research would therefore be considered as a case study and the implica-tions of this is that the result gained only would fit in a similar context.
The settings of Hannover Messe are regarded as a mature and professional TS. Some exhibitors would put it as a trademark instead of a TS since it is quite massive and visitors come from all over the world although a majority is German or European in origin. The huge fair ground and its long history attract visitors in quantity and these visitors have been walking over a fairly large area with many impressions (Hannover Messe, 2011).
A generalization to all TSs is not recommended. It would not be suitable, for instance, to take the findings of this thesis to the TS were the data collection methods were tested, this is primarily due to the size of the TS were the testing fair was much smaller than Hannover Messe. The test-ing TS consisted of rarely few buyer or people willing to set big contracts and more interested consumers as well as civilians such as seniors previously working within that area.
An inductive approach is conducted in this research due to the increased generalizability, al-though the generalizability could only be applied on other TS that have similar properties as Hannover Messe.

Ethics Principles

The ethics of this research has been of great importance and also difficult, one reason for its dif-ficulty is the many actors and the complex situation. There are three different actors that each has connection to the others. The primary actor in the case is Hannover Messe, in order to be al-lowed to conduct the research clear consent was needed from the companies involved. All com-panies in this study were contacted on beforehand and they accepted the study. Some wanted to go through the question prior to the execution which they of course were allowed to.
The SRs were contacted on the first day were both interviewers presented themselves and pre-sented the layout of the work. Although not every SRs could be contacted individually the man-ager of each booth were aware of the research situation and should have informed their SRs.
No names of either visitors or SRs has been forth told or noted and the visitor‟s privacy was ab-solute, the interviews were mostly held apart from the booth in question so that the visitor would get the feeling of privacy. The visitors were never asked to give their identity and they were in-formed that participation is voluntary. Visitors was provided with the information that this work is not originated from the firms but instead conducted from a school with research background. This allowed the visitors to speak more freely about the booth and their impression of the same.
Since there is no records of who said what, neither person-names nor firm names is recorded, and no specific person could be pointed out. And all participants in interviews have agreed upon participating, also the SRs permission have solved the ethical dilemmas.
There is no present risk of reprisals for those involved, since not one person could be pin-pointed. The purpose is to find a better BL in order to improve for the whole firm and that viewpoint disarms many of the ethical concerns.


According to Daymon and Holloway (2011) validity resembles the relevance in the findings of the study. They state that validity of the study gives the reader guidance towards how well the findings are connected towards the reality and if the results can be trusted to be genuine. Halvor-sen (1992) state that validity problem might occur when the research is on two different levels, the theoretical level and the empirical level. Halvorsen (1992) state that in order to diminish the “validity- problem” a researcher has to collect the most relevant data in order to support the problem and the purpose of the research (Halvorsen, 1992).
The authors (Daymon & Holloway, 2011) argue that a mixed method approach enhances the va-lidity and strengthens trustworthiness of the research. Mixed method is referred when both a qualitative and quantitative approach is used (Daymon & Holloway, 2011). In this study validity is enhanced through that the authors use several methods to collect data towards conducting the findings. The usage of observation, frequency studies and interviews with visitors to exhibitors at Hannover Messe gives the research strong validity when the conclusions are drawn. A frequency study has a more quantitative approach and observations and interviews are linked to the qualita-tive sphere in the study. Due to the mixed method approach the conclusions are supported from several perspectives.


Reliability in quantitative research is according to Daymon and Holloway (2011) associated with how a research instrument such as an interview guide will give similar outcome or answers. Hal-vorsen (1992) state similar with Daymon and Holloway (2011) about reliability. These authors continue to claim that in a qualitative approach, however, the view of replicability is rarely used due to the nature of the approach.
The reason why a complete replicability is hard in a qualitative research is because the back-ground of the researchers will influence the outcome and will affect on how, for instance, an open interview is conducted (Daymon & Holloway, 2011). However to ensure that the research can be repeated an interview guide was set even if the questions where opened and linked to-wards a discussion. Nonetheless, the qualitative part of the study has a fixed foundation to ensure that the research can later be repeated with similar findings and results. Even if the results is reli-able, this research have to be seen as a case-study and the results from a research on another TS might not be exactly replicable due to the many specific aspects that Hannover Messe have in comparison to other TSs.


Language dissonance

Seale et. al (2004) emphasizes the risk for language misunderstandings when conducting a qualita-tive research in a multi-language context. They continue to argue that both the validity and the re-liability of a research can be influenced if an action is not taken in consideration to address the language barrier. Seale et. al (2004) state that in order to diminish the language dissonance and the barrier created from mixed language is to base the research on a “common language”, meaning that base the research on a language that both parties understands and can easily express them-selves in, and also from the researchers perspective have an open view and respect the perspec-tive from the participants in for example interviews. (Seale, Gobo, Gubrium, & Silverman, 2004)
In order to ensure a solid language foundation for this research the researcher tried to find the common language and tried to conduct interviews in other languages then English if necessary. Due to the fact that Hannover Messe is a highly international TS, then English is seen as the working language on the TS. However due to the fact that the TS is in Germany and a majority of the companies are German, then German-speaking visitors is a majority. The researchers to this research have basic knowledge in German and can therefore explain questions in German if necessary. In addition to using multilanguage in the interviews creative interviewing was also ap-plied to this research which reduced the language barrier.

Creative interviewing

According to Silverman (2006) standard recommendation for interviewing can become shallow due to the fact that only the responds from the respondent is taken in consideration for an analy-sis in a study. However, Silverman state that in order to reach a dimension which is beyond the sentences and words a technique called creative interview can be applied to the research. Creative interviewing is created when in a mutual climate and disclosure. The interview should be an occa-sion where both the respondent and the interviewer should be able to share their own intimate thoughts and feelings about the subject. (Silverman, 2006)
To assure that the respondent in the interviews could answer freely and to ensure that the every detail in the questions was answered the researchers applied creative interviewing. The outline of the interviews had more character of a dialog instead of a survey interview. This was done in or-der to ensure that the research got a complete picture of the dilemma, and also to minimize lan-guage barriers. As a surplus in the interviews the researchers has also combined a paragraph called “general observations” in which general perceptions of the interviews with SR and visitors, in addition to this the general observations also left room for general observations on the TS and other factors that can affect the research area like conversations with SR.


When conducting research different perspectives can influence the results and how readers perce-ive the results. This is especially important when working with TSs as a marketing and sales loca-tion, and when studying BL, due to the fact that the perception of BL can differ immensely de-pending on the perspective. The recipient might perceive the BL in one particular way however the contributor might represent a different stand point.
The perspective of this study will be from the visitor perspective. The study will have focus from how the visitors perceive the BL of a SR to be successful. How the visitors perceive the behavior of a SR is important because of the impact the behavior and BL have on the marketing and sales processes at a TS.
The main competitive advantage on a TS for a company is its staff due to the fact that they have the majority of the impact possibilities on the visitors and therefore also the largest possibility to impact the outcomes of a TS. However, if the BL is perceived negative then the success will transform into a failure.

Possible bias

For all researches there is a risk of bias however, Seale et. Al (2004) emphasizes on the fact that if a researcher state the biases then he or she reduces the risk and also ensures that the reader gets a clear view of the biases.
Possible bias that could have affected the research is primarily two factors. Namely those most interviewed visitors were male. Although general observation is that there is a male majority in the population this might be in order. Some booths were most welcoming and offered both food beverages and treats for the researchers. This is a possible bias but the author‟s claims to be sin-
cere with the judgments and the notion of the bias risk will presumably be a matter of minimizing the risk.


When observations are used as a method then a bias might occur that the person you observe might change their actions when they know that they are studied. Due to ethical and legal reasons the observations cannot be carried out without informing the personnel in the booth. That might affect the outcome from the observations. At some observation the researchers noticed that the performance and the BL of the SRs actually changed when they realized that they were observed.

Visitor Interviews

There are several possible biases when conducting research, and some of them are connected to-wards interviews (Seale et. Al, 2004). In this research the bias was that the interviewer could in-fluence the respondent. This risk was actually enhanced by the fact that there were some language barriers. Nevertheless the possible bias risk was actively worked with during the entire research and also in the analysis the possible bias is taken in consideration.
A lot of elderly people with more professional clothing rejects to be part of the interview, maybe because of old habits that a lot of research is done with a marketing background. Rumors from a SR said that one company had hired at least five people to do “marketing survey” on the TS, but instead of survey it was more targeting to get visitors to that particular firm as a promotion cam-paign. This could have cause visitors to avoid our interviews.

Frequency studies

The possible bias in the frequency study in this research is that the frequency studies might not be generally distributed over time and over days at Hannover Messe. Due to the fact that the ob-servations was only carried out on three days and in the end of the week of the TS, bias might ac-cord due to the fact that the frequency of the visitors could not be done in the beginning of the TS. However the bias was reduced by having the frequency studies equally divided over time dur-ing the three days that was studied.

Table of Contents
1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem discussion
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Delimitations
1.6 Thesis outline
2 Frame of reference
2.1 Value of trade shows
2.2 Marketing
2.3 Cultural aspects
2.4 Nonverbal communication
2.5 Body Language
2.6 Interactive dialogue
3 Method
3.1 Research strategy
3.2 Research design
3.3 Generalizability
3.4 Ethics Principles
3.5 Validity
3.6 Reliability
3.7 Language dissonance
3.8 Creative interviewing
3.9 Perspective
3.10 Possible bias
4 Empirical Data
4.1 Observations
4.2 Interviews
4.3 General observations
4.4 Frequency study
5 Analysis
5.1 Observations
5.2 Interviews
5.3 Frequency Study
5.4 General observations
6 Conclusions
6.1 Conclusion
6.2 Possible implications
6.3 Further Research
7 List of references

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