Every trade show has its loyal band of followers that attend year after year – does yours?
If you're having trouble getting your show to stick out of a crowd, there could be a few reasons behind it. One of the more likely ones is that you're not giving attendees what they've come to expect with similar industry events. Here are a few tips on how to change that:
1. Host somewhere well-received
Business leisure is giving the trade show industry a boost of life, with many professionals realizing that attending an exhibition also means a quick break from work. Utilize this – don't push away from it. More people are likely to go to your event year after year if it's in Miami, Florida, during the winter, rather than Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Location should be an advantage, not a negative, according to Event Manager Blog. This includes the venue at which you choose to exhibit. Everything about it should make attendees want to visit – warm weather is always a plus.
2. Tell them what they're looking for
Oftentimes newcomers can completely miss the point of the event – but to their credit, it isn't always their fault. PCMA Convene likened the trade show experience to the first day at summer camp. There's so many activities going on that without an orientation, campers would be lost. This is how you should approach your own event. The source recommended taking half an hour once the event begins to host an orientation session.
"An orientation session can be a valuable component of your event."
This part of the event should be mandatory for professionals who have never been to your event before – make sure it's slotted in a time where they aren't missing anything important! This gives you a chance to tell them parts of the trade show they shouldn't miss, times when important lectures are occurring and just an overall rundown of what will be going on the entire show.
Plus, this will also give everyone an opportunity to network right when the show is started. If you've already built a loyal attendee base it may be worth it to invite them so the two groups can mingle. Veterans get a chance to network with new professionals, while newcomers can ask the more experienced attendees how to get the most out of the event. Facilitating this type of interaction is crucial to creating lasting memories that will get people to come back again.
3. Ensure everything goes down without a hitch
This may sound easier said than done, but there are a lot of small details that should and can be taken care of. Event Manager Blog noted that if the free Wi-Fi is consistently down, that can be a sign to attendees the event was rushed and they may not want to go again next year. Think about it – a lot of professionals rely on Wi-Fi to communicate with leads and the coworkers back at the office. If it's not working, the event is impeding their ability to complete their job.
To gain a loyal following, you'll need to make sure you hold up your end of the bargain. If you promise something, make sure it's there. Don't put out any false advertising to raise attendance rates for that year, because they'll drop the next time your event rolls around.
4. Connect throughout the year
It should go without saying that networking is essential in the trade show industry. This includes doing so on your part, as well. While you're facilitating relationships between exhibitors and attendees, both parties forge a connection with the event when they hear from you during the year.
Many trade show organizers think the job is over when the final truck ships out – that's not the case. You should be working with your staff to hear what went right and wrong during the event, then follow up with attendees to understand their thoughts. Doing so will give you comprehensive feedback you can use to make your event better the next time around and show the professionals who visit that you care about their input. Sending an email giving updates about the trade show every month or so won't take much time and it can pay dividends.
5. Be a receptive trade show organizer
Sometimes, all it comes down to is showing that you'll go the extra step in making sure attendees are getting the most out of their money. If you take the time to connect one professional with another, and that forms a great business relationship, word will spread.
Provide your exhibitors with return on investment metrics and attendee tracking data that can help them be better prepared for the show. This in turn will make sure every attendee is seeing the best possible iteration of your event.