This is a dark post that explores crime and links it back to exhibiting.

Last week I was listening to a fascinating podcast by Marc Goodman who works at the FBI and it’s his job to look at future patterns of organised crime.

A few years ago his main assignment was the sinister world of the Mexican mafia.

He specifically dealt with the drug lords and cartels of Mexico and studied how they mix old school criminal minds with strategic technology.

In the podcast, Goodman described one of the favoured kidnapping tricks used by the gangs at airports to extort money from international governments and corporations.

In the late 2000s, the drug lords would send two teams of soldiers to the airport – Halcones and Sicarios.

Halcones (Falcons in English) are the ‘eyes and ears’ of any crime operation. They are the lowest rank in any cartel and are responsible for scouting missions.

In this instance, they were sent to the arrivals hall of Mexican airports and would phone the cartel base with the executive name and company names being held up on boards by the taxi drivers and chauffeurs.

The base operators would quickly research via press reports, linkedin etc the relative importance and estimated wealth of the highly paid corporate executives due to arrive in the hall awaiting pick-ups.

Once they had identified the most suitable target, a Sicarios (Hitman/Muscle in English), dressed as a chauffeur would slip the existing driver a wedge of cash and a suitable weighted threat to make sure they got out of the airport quietly.

The travel-weary and unsuspecting executive would walk through arrivals to be greeted by their name board in the hall and follow the hitman out to the cartel car – no questions asked.

Then the multi-million dollar ransom negotiations began…

Now, I’m not making light of a very serious criminal activity which in itself has carried very serious real-life impacts on many people.

But it’s quite easy to see how you could implement a similar strategy to drive pre-qualified stand traffic in an exhibiting environment.

It begins with Falcons citing possible targets in high traffic areas such as entrances, exits, network areas and seminars.

It moves onto a cartel base sending clever email and social media communications to tempt verified targets to visit the hitmen (and women) on your stand.

The thing to remember is to make sure it’s engineered serendipity (© Paddy Cosgrave) and doesn’t have stalker undertones.

Needless to say you can give the firearms, threats and ransom notes a miss – nobody needs that.

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Jim heads up Exhibitor Smarts, which is a newly created specialist agency working alongside organisers and suppliers to ensure that exhibitors engage, grow and return.

If you want more information about the Exhibitor Smarts please visit our website at www.exhibitorsmarts.com

For exhibiting tips and chats follow Exhibitor Smarts on twitter: @exhibitorsmarts

Image thanks to www.davidreviews.com – cheers!

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