Characteristics of a Great Trade Show

Everyone wants their trade show to go down in the history books as one of the best to ever be organized, but what exactly puts it on that pedestal? A mix of booth design, display and floor spacing, as well as a pinch of character that can't be bought, all combine to make your trade show one of the year's best.

Here are some pointers when it comes to trade show organizing:

1. Boost engagement with contests
Nobody wants to walk around an event hall without interacting with someone else. Even those who are visiting on business need a little fun and excitement in their lives. An easy way for event organizers to accomplish this is by holding a contest, according to Brandwatch.

A quick idea could be having people drop a business card into a bucket and raffling away a gift certificate or a new product that hasn't hit the market. That way you get a ton of their information to follow-up with them on deals and conversions after the tradeshow, as well as give one lucky attendee a prize for disclosing their data. It's a win-win for both parties.

Raffles are an easy way to boost attendee engagement at a trade show.Raffles are an easy way to boost attendee engagement at a trade show.

2. Always be standing
Forbes recommends trying to pump as much high energy into your booth as possible. Nobody will be interested if the people sitting behind the showcase aren't lively enough to make an effort once a consumer shows up to learn more.

Being active in your area can draw people from the crowd at higher rates than just waiting for them to come to you. A rolling stone catches no moss, and the same goes for your booth.

3. Bring your best salesperson
A trade show is the place where you turn a few hours into leads that will last you the entire quarter – don't leave it to the rookies. You want your best salesperson being your brand ambassador at these events, because they can explain your product and business better than anybody else and they can close sales.

Forbes suggests making a contest out of the trade show. The most conversions or leads could win a bonus or bragging rights. Goals keep things interesting when you're at your fourth trade show in the past month.

4. Experiment with design
With the amount of technology available nowadays, you may want to have a different design at every trade show. The booth should be rigged up to flash different lights and colors, according to Brandwatch. This attracts people from farther away, even if they don't stop to look at what you're selling.

Don't be afraid to think outside of the box. In fact, tear the box to shreds and make your own. You never know what could set a trend.

5. Offer food

"Water and snacks are a cost-effective way to introduce attendees to your product."

Lets face it – there's a lot of walking involved at trade shows. Most people don't go to these large events all the time, and extremely large event halls can make the walking that much more prevalent. Help out your attendees by offering free water and snacks.

What costs you $100 or $200 in the short term can multiply your leads in the long-run. This is just another way to draw people's attention to your booth and get them to talk with you. Don't ask for money or business cards, but instead take the opportunity to have a conversation with them. This is a way to get great feedback, and is guaranteed to make your booth stick out from the rest of the crowd.

Follow these steps to build a trade show empire that people come to see at every event hall you decide to go to.

3 tips to reduce your drayage costs

We understand drayage can sometimes be confusing and take up a large line in your invoice, but exhibition booths and displays can often be very heavy projects that soak up a large amount of your budget.

While it’s difficult to completely avoid drayage, it’s possible to lower the cost as much as possible. It still remains a costly venture – that’s more often than not worth the price – but saving just a few dollars can make the difference between an exhibition being in the red or in the black.

1. Ship direct
Drayage is normally calculated by weight per 100 pounds, also referred to as CWT. According to the 2015 Exhibition and Event Industry Labor Rates Survey, drayage sent to the advance warehouse cost organizers $102.88 per CWT. This number has gone up substantially since 2011, where it clocked in at $83.51, Skyline Tradeshow Tips reported.

Shipping directly to the show site cost just $96.96 per CWT in 2015, and was $76.72 per uncrated CWT in 2011. There are advantages to paying the premium and shipping to the advanced warehouse such as knowing that your properties will be first on the floor.  However, if you do not need that service, take advantage of the difference in pricing by shipping all of the gear direct to show, instead of the advance warehouse. Either way, make sure that you understand your target dates and times in the show kit to avoid paying additional off-target surcharges.

Shipping your gear direct to show will save you money on drayage.Shipping your gear direct to the show will save you money on drayage.

2. Tone down printed materials
Exhibitor Online estimated that 80 percent of all promotional materials are thrown away by the end of the event. User engagement is best achieved digitally and through social media these days, and shipping flyers, business cards and any other items that may promote your event will only raise the cost of drayage.

It’s the digital age. Move your promotion online, to newsletters and to e-document delivery. Avoid high drayage costs by cutting down the amount of paper you’re sending to the event. Not only will you appreciate the high user engagement from moving online, but it will be nice not to have to look at your promotional pages in the trash at the end of the event. This is only contributing to climate change, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time. By shifting your promotions completely paperless, you can also add that your event is environmentally friendly.

3. Consolidate items
Think of the drayage process in literal terms. It’s going to take more effort for the handlers to move multiple loose items instead of a crate. As you create your exhibit with your event contractor, keep this in mind.

Substitute heavier items for lighter ones whenever possible. Use boxes and crates if you’re able to. Both of these will keep drayage fees down because handlers simply have less to deal with. Making their life easier can also help make yours easier. Also, uncrated items cost exponentially more to ship than crated.

Using these tips will ultimately leave a noticeable effect on your budget. If you find that your initial mark-up for drayage is a tad too high, consider implementing some of these tips into how you operate to bring that cost lower. While drayage is completely necessary for an event, it’s entirely possible to keep that price down below the industry average.

The growing importance of labor for event organizing

Though society is inching closer to being driven by technology, the exhibition and event industry will be firmly rooted in its founded values for years to come. When it comes to building and dismantling a show, skilled labor is an essential part of the process.

The industry at a glance
Shortly after the economic recession in 2008, the exhibition and event industry picked up where it left off. In fact, according to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, the sector has been growing moderately since as early as 2009.

As recently as 2015, the installation and dismantle industry has grown steadily at 3 percent. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • The growing number of startups and “unicorns” that require showcasing.
  • Experiential marketing rising as a viable option to garner millennials’ attendance.
  • Expanding opportunities overseas.

The IAEE argued that because the industry is so closely tied to the health of the U.S. and other nations’ GDP, the next few years will be tumultuous both for events companies and clients. Will the health of the economy continue, or will anticipated rising federal interest rates cap it at a certain growth rate? How will changes in the stock market affect the industry?

One aspect of the exhibition and event industry remains static, though. The necessity for event labor will not change, but the need for skilled labor will only increase as events come to require accurate precision and complex decision-making during the I&D process.

What skilled labor can offer
Once an afterthought, skilled labor has risen to the forefront of the industry. With such narrow deadlines and no room for error, companies simply can’t afford to hand out contracts to companies that don’t place a high importance on skilled team members.

Exhibition and event organizations that place a premium on labor by cultivating it internally through training programs and industry-driven universities will have their efforts rewarded as the market grows stronger.

“Skilled labor will become more valuable as the industry changes.”

Lah-Cal, a corporate event management company, recently predicted on LinkedIn that, with the upcoming trend of experiential trade shows and events, as well as the anticipated benefits of virtual and augmented reality, locations for events will change. Normally done in a conference or event venue, future events will require larger, more unique venues that coincide with the theme. This means that the amount of preparation, wiring and execution will ramp up, and only the most skilled teams in the industry will be able to keep up with the change.

A more competitive market for venues will be the norm very soon as well, according to Lah-Cal. As the amount of events grows, hotels and other venues will begin to charge a premium to host because of how booked they are. This directly impacts event organizers, as the I&D team they contract will have to be able to set up and dismantle quicker than past years.

All signs point to the market putting a premium on skilled labor, rather than just finding some people who can put together a few wooden planks. Carefully consider your contracting decisions moving forward, as speed, efficiency and expertise will all play a bigger role than they have in the past.