How To Unite Attendees and Exhibitors

Post authored by Terence Donnelly,
It's time unite attendees and exhibitorsVP Sales and Account Management, Experient

As exhibitors, it’s always a challenge to meet ROI goals, while at the same time, providing a memorable event experience without blowing the event budget.

Tradeshow organizers must create a show floor that marries the ability to generate leads, yet also createa a place that fosters knowledge sharing and relationship building. All while including the latest technology to create the sense of innovation and being ahead of the curve.

It’s crucial to establish pre-show connections well before the show floor opens and integrate attendees with exhibits and exhibitors. Show organizers need to be proactive in training and communicating to their exhibitors with webinars, collateral materials, seminars or on-site training. We need to get away from the blame game; exhibitors blaming show management or meeting planners but not themselves. Show organizers should take steps to help exhibitors understand how to communicate with their buyers about their products or brand and raise awareness.

Show organizers can also help exhibitors by clearly communicating what buyers expect and what they are looking for since they could be going in blind and don’t understand the types of buyers that will be visiting. Not everyone at a show is the decision maker, but they want to see the latest products and speak to the developers or product managers. While you may not get a sale, you have a lead and influencer.

Educational content and sessions are another great way to bring more traffic to show floors. What about length of these sessions? Educational sessions conducted on the floor need to be brief to capture the attendees’ attention and learn quickly. Hour-long sessions aren’t realistic since you want the attendees to get to the floor, engage or mingle around.  A 15-minute sessions is ideal for this type of content.

Social media continues to be a challenge for any small or new exhibitors that haven’t established a social following. Big brands know how to use social media and have the resources to execute. Smaller companies continue to pay an exhibit fee and hope just having the booth will be enough. Show managers should take it upon themselves to expose these smaller exhibitors to tools and technologies that increase reach and attract attendees to their booths.

So looking into the crystal ball, what does the future hold?

Mobility, as we are starting to see, can reinvent the tradeshow. Not too long ago, people were concerned about using their devices for business use. Now, we trust our devices to do everything and that’s a great thing for show organizers.

Location services have improved and no longer rely on GPS. They use radio or Wi-Fi signals to know where attendees are and help make recommendations on sessions and booths to visit. The devices are a great way to gather business intelligence and analyze what your attendees are doing.

The data can help understand and determine their needs and expectations, thus, create a better way to market to them. This real-time, behind-the-scenes data creates powerful, personal experience to each attendee. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to tradeshows no longer exists.

Do you have any other thoughts on how to help attendees and exhibitors?

This post originated from an article appearing in the October issue of FORUM, an Association Forum of Chicagoland publication, authored by Dawn McEvoy, CAE, CMP, Director, Education, Professional Convention Management Association
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