It can be tough for exhibitors to get a positive ROI from a trade show. At the same time, learning how to get the most from a trade show booth is essential for businesses. There are many potential ways that exhibitors can maximize the impact of their booths, ranging from interactive booths and the creation of an experience to having well-trained sales staff on hand to ensure that customers and clients are drawn to their stand.
But what about the trade show overall? A plethora of advice is available to exhibitors on how to get the most from attending a show, but there is very little out there about how best to run a successful show yourself. So, what’s the secret?
Same Old Same Old
One secret is avoiding boredom among your visitors. And the way to do that is to ensure that the lineup of booths is varied and interesting from one year to the next. There’s nothing worse than attending the same show year after year and seeing the same old lineup of vendors and exhibitors. What’s new? What’s fresh? These are questions you should keep at the forefront of your mind when planning your event.
For example, one attendee said, “[I attended the] annual national home show in Toronto, same vendors as last year and nothing new to show. I personally lost interest and left the show in only half an hour as I knew all the vendors and products.” This is the type of feedback you should be paying assiduous attention to when organizing a show, as bored attendees translate into decreased interest and attendance, which can really kill an event.
Creating a Buzz
Once you’ve identified that your trade show is only promoting staleness, how do you solve this problem? The first step is to figure out which vendors are coming back year after year with nothing new to show. Sure, they pay their exhibitor fees, but the reduced attendance that results from your attendees losing interest will help you in the long term. So: switch it up! Consider introducing stricter criteria for return exhibitors, like ensuring that they at least have new products to sell. Prioritize newer vendors, after of course making sure they are a good fit for your event.
On that note, think about how you know which vendors are appropriate for your show. Do some polling of your attendee base, and see what they like about the show and what they’d like to see changed – and, crucially, who they’d like to see invited. What is it about these particular vendors that create a buzz? Is it their products, their style, their trade booth design? Consider all these factors when figuring out who to book for next year.
Promotion is Key
When you have your lineup secured, it’s time to promote. Does your trade show have a newsletter for potential attendees and for exhibitors? Are there any promotional campaigns you can run to attract new attendees, perhaps featuring certain vendors? And how are you marketing your show? Ensuring that you get these little details right will go a long way to maximizing the profitability of your trade show event.
In summary then: keep it fresh, and consider changing out exhibitors regularly to allow interest in your trade show to continue to grow over time. Capitalize on the strengths of your existing vendors and the needs and wants of your attendee base to promote the show appropriately, and make sure you create that buzz that will keep people coming back year after year!