Behavioral Data: The New Trade Show Currency

behavioral dataPost authored by Terence Donnelly, Vice President of Sales

At IMEX America 2016 in Las Vegas, I had the privilege of leading an interactive session titled Behavioral Data: The New Trade Show Currency.

These discussion-driven sessions with trade show strategists are priceless, as participants share stories and ideas they’re exploring with one another. Most who attended this session had tested several data collection methods, but the results’ mileage varied.

Many had reams of data insights to draw upon:

  • Registration and housing data
  • Expense and revenue data
  • Surveys and attendee demographic data
  • Leads, badge scans, clicks, views, and much more

But the most valuable, yet elusive, data point continued to be behavioral data: knowing what individual guests actually DO once they arrive at our events.

What sessions do they attend? Which exhibitors do they visit? How long do they stay? When do they make a beeline for the exit? What receptions, pavilions and other high traffic areas do they enjoy most? Which ones do they skip?

While radio-frequency identification (RFID) and other methods have helped shore up data gaps a bit, these solutions still fall short of this level of behavioral intelligence capture, which is crucial in today’s competitive business environment.

For years, knowing the full scope of individual behaviors and preferences across the entire conference and trade show continuum seemed unfathomable and unattainable

Until now.

A Swift and Seamless Way to Know More

We recognized this data gap needed to be closed and soon. After all, event guest experience palates were maturing and expectations were rising fast. So our tech team engaged in one of the most ambitious initiatives we’ve ever tackled. And after months and months of intensive research and testing, the breakthrough happened – eventBit.

behavioral dataThis solution incorporates a new twist on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and beacon technologies. Rather than relying on attendees to have their smart devices powered up and running the event mobile app to capture data, with eventBit, each attendee is “tagged” with a small BLE beacon embedded within their badge. A network of discreet “hubs” are placed across the entire venue to receive signals from each and every badge within close proximity. Event organizers could now “light up” their entire show floor and conference space.

I know what you must be thinking: “We’re struggling to make sense of the data we already have.” Rest assured, eventBit includes a dynamic dashboard with customized reports to filter, analyze and roll up data sets to reveal a wealth of actionable intelligence.

Even better, there are heat maps that show where traffic is heaviest, lightest and everything in between at any given point during the show and in real-time. This visualization tool often helps clients address potential snags (long lines, insufficient staffing for popular areas, etc.) before they’re noticed by guests.

Epiphanies and Insights

Fast forward to today – we’re thrilled to see how eventBit is helping event organizers to know and serve their guests the experiences and encounters they crave most. With nearly a dozen eventBit installations successfully completed and more prepared to launch soon, eventBit is changing the data game forever.

Seeing is believing, which is why I enjoy the post-event client debriefs most of all. As clients review this richer and more actionable data, it’s sparking all kinds of ideas.

Here’s just a glimpse at the revelations we’re hearing in post-event debrief meetings with clients:

  1. Behavioral Data Will Help Us Grow Exhibit and Sponsorship Revenues

    Seeing not just the leads scanned by booth staff, but others who spent significant time in their booth but didn’t get scanned is a valuable insight. Typically, the Top 10 most-visited booths tend to be the largest ones, but the data often reveals outliers. For example, there was a show where the Top 10 list consisted of 40x40s and 30x30s, with one big exception: a 10×20 exhibitor-managed to leap into the Top 10 list, but this exhibitor also invested in sponsorship. Stories like these, backed by evidence, are powerful tools for your exhibit and sponsorship sales teams. Keep in mind, those investing in your show are being scrutinized more closely about their trade show spend decisions. Behavioral data provides the credible ROI proof they need, while also teeing up proven opportunities to consider in the future. For years, expo floor revenue management was largely derived from partial data, anecdotal evidence and gut hunches. Now show organizers have the facts they need to make smarter revenue decisions in the future.
  2. Behavioral Data Will Help Us Strengthen Relationships with Top Targeted Segments
     behavioral data
    Most clients have a short list of top targeted segments. They strive to provide meaningful value to all, but these top segments are often responsible for the majority of activity and revenue. Richer behavioral data insight either confirms assumptions they had about what matters to these VIP attendees OR sometimes disrupts a few assumptions. Either way, it’s valuable insight to fine-tune future decisions.
  3. Behavioral Data Will Help Us Convert More First-Timers into Loyal Followers

    The first-time attendee is a segment many are striving to grow, but the true value comes when you bring them back into the fold. The cost to acquire new attendees is steep and first-timer churn (once and done) is a challenge for many. Knowing which experiences and encounters first-timers enjoyed will enhance future marketing outreach to win them back.

Networking and education are the top two reasons why people choose to attend a conference or trade show – yet without this level of behavioral data insight, how can you be sure that you successfully delivered on your event promise?

Behavioral data is indeed the new trade show currency and those who pursue this soon will have a decided edge. As you firm up goals for your 2017 events, I would encourage you to include at least one goal that’s focused on advancing this area.

Data mastery often happens through a series of smaller and more manageable steps. What one small step can you take now?

PS: This post features clips from an interview with one of our clients and it will help speed up your learning curve. Gather your team and watch these clips together.

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