Kristofer Herlitz is managing director of the AIM Group’s New York office. He is HMCC-certified with more than 25 years of experience in meetings and exhibitions management.
When organizing an exhibition, the logistics and design of an exhibition program and floor plan are essential.
Ask yourself: Why are you organizing this event? Why hold an exhibition? Ultimately, you want to put attendees and exhibitors in the same room for an open dialogue. There are some basics to a good exhibition program, including:
However, these days, you need more.
The Changing Landscape of Exhibitor Participation and Sponsorship Expectations
Today’s exhibitors need more than just an exhibit hall and strong attendance.
In fact, record attendance does not ensure any exhibitor will experience a better meeting than the previous one with lower attendance.
The ROI that exhibitors need to show to upper management to justify the expense of booth and sponsorship support is no longer the quantity of booth visits and leads but the quality.
Today’s technology allows for much better tracking of the leads gathered on the exhibit floor — the cost per lead and the number of them that end in sales is extremely quantifiable.
So, three different meetings with respective attendances of 30,000, 3,000 and 300 are not necessarily ranked in that same order of importance. Fifty good, strong leads from the meeting of 300 outweigh 500 weak leads from the meeting of 30,000.
With that in mind, exhibitors and sponsors are looking for more from their support.
Here are some key questions you must consider if you want to increase the real added value offered to exhibitors and sponsors:
How can they meet the key opinion leaders within your attendees?
Try opening your exhibit hall a half-hour early and have your council or board members walk through the exhibit hall exclusively.
What unique sponsorships do you offer (in addition to the traditional logos on the conference bag and lanyards)?
Try a wellness lounge on the exhibit floor and let your sponsor be associated with this healthy (positive) addition.
Is your leadership invested?
Keep the executive leadership informed to what your top supporters/sponsors are asking for; not all marketing ideas may be common ground.
Digital advertising opportunities are important, but what metrics do you offer?
Click rates and page impressions are only part of the picture; provide the advertiser with more meaningful data, such as which sessions/speakers were clicked on the most and which times and days were most active.
Change is one thing that is consistent. Here are four things you should put into your project:
Key relationships are as old as the industry itself and are still a key component. Are you maintaining yours?
You build relationships over time, but eventually your contacts change. A new generation is moving in, and what excited your previous contact may not speak to your new contact.
Find out what they are thinking.
The same exhibit floor year in and year out becomes stale. Try something new to draw the attendees in and engage with the exhibitors in a different manner.
Show floor meeting rooms can serve a variety of purposes for the exhibitors. Whether it is just a quiet place to converse with attendees or space for onsite user groups and small presentations, this unique face-to-face time is what exhibitors are looking for to share their message.
Educating your exhibitors is worth your time — lend them a hand by sharing what you know.
Hold a quick pow-wow with your primary booth contacts on the show floor on opening day to make sure your key messaging is not being lost along the way. Help them have a better show, and it will reflect on their future participation and level of support.
Using beacons and bluetooth technology paints a much fuller picture of the booth activity for your exhibitors.
This attendee tracking allows exhibitors to see not just the amount of traffic that came into the exhibit hall, but a heat map of where and when they congregated.
Exhibitors are able to determine not only who visited their booth but the length of the visit, who was in the proximity but did not stop in and the demographics of both those groups. AC&F