Dave Weil is a vice president and Pat Dwyer is a senior manager in event services at SmithBucklin, an association management and services company. www.smithbucklin.com
As an industry professional, you likely already know — because of firsthand experience — that it is easier for associations to keep current members than to recruit new ones. The same can be said for trade show exhibitors. Unfortunately, the economic downturn has forced many companies to reevaluate their involvement in trade shows, from attendance to sponsorships to exhibit booths. This puts immense pressure on event planners to prove tangible return on investment for exhibitors.
However, a formal exhibitor retention plan can do just that. Created with the help of trade show administration, along with your sales and logistics team, a successful retention plan should be a collaborative process that clearly outlines a strategy to identify challenges, build loyalty, create educational opportunities and ultimately improve the overall exhibitor experience to increase ROI.