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Robyn Davis: From Aerospace Engineer to Event Educator

The 2019 Changemaker is bringing creativity to attendee and exhibitor training.

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Robyn Davis

Trade Show Strategy Specialist
Exhibitor Education by WINH 

For her efforts in helping trade-show organizers educate and retain exhibitors

Making Change
When I started nearly 10 years ago, I was working directly with exhibitors in their show booths. My goal was to help them approach participation in a more strategic, goal-oriented way, versus simply showing up and hoping their goals would be met. While in those booths, I began to develop step-by-step processes to help exhibitors use their time more effectively, whether they were in their booths or elsewhere. Prioritizing the right efforts in a structured way (with a heavy focus on strategy) helped clients shorten their sales cycles and boost their reputations and results. But after a few years, I realized that I wasn’t having the impact I would need in order to improve entire trade shows (also, only advising exhibitors one-by-one wasn’t a scalable business). So, I shifted my focus to include speaking at industry events and working with event organizers, allowing me to help more exhibitors at any one time and begin to create change across the show industry. Since then, my goal has been to help event organizers see exhibitor education as more than just an (optional) box to check. That means helping them justify offering exhibitor education and helping them implement the right programs. 

What’s Next?
I want to help show organizers get more creative with their exhibitor education. The way professionals learn has changed, and exhibitor education must change too. I’ve tried to set an example for others through the content I create, like my new FAQ Friday free offering. It’s a series of short videos on trade-show success tips in a “microlearning” style to better serve exhibitors with short attention spans and busy schedules. Also, when I present webinars like my Trade Show Summer School series or speak at industry events, I incorporate technology and activities to ensure my sessions are interactive and action-oriented, for exhibitors who might struggle with traditional lectures. And I’ve been helping show organizers experiment with new content formats and test new program ideas. I recently created a training for a show’s new exhibitors where, ahead of the show, I provided short webinars plus one-on-one consulting sessions to help them with ROI calculations, traffic-generation strategies, and more. 

Managing Change
Change is a process with a beginning (research/planning), middle (implementation/adjustments), and end (reflection/iteration), and it can take time. Document every lesson, and don’t skip steps. Also, don’t feel like you have to “go it alone.” There are so many great resources available to event professionals today.

Advice Peers Ask of You  
Outside of industry-related topics, I get asked a lot about how I use tools like LinkedIn or Zoom to grow my business. There are so many awesome, inexpensive tools available.

Advice You Ask of Peers
I’m always curious about the “why” behind actions—not the motivation but rather why something worked or not. For instance, I had never officially joined an industry organization until recently, so I’ve been asking others about their affiliations, how they’ve impacted their career, and why they think that is. This helps me strategize and set better expectations for myself.

Thinking Differently
My degree is in aerospace engineering, which taught me to solve complicated problems in structured but creative ways. Also, I grew up in a small-business family, which taught me the importance of rooting out inefficiency in business as quickly as possible. 

Got a Spare Hour?
I like to walk outdoors. Some days I walk several miles to get my heart rate up and process whatever’s happening in my life at the moment. It is one of my favorite and most productive everyday activities.


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