At one point in time even the largest events were starving for attention. But what happens when the trade show organizer finally has all eyes on his or her every move?
Scaling a trade show from small to large or niche to mainstream isn’t as simple as adding a few extra chairs and staffers—organizers must have a strategy backing their decisions.
What once was a few hundred interested attendees has now turned into thousands of registrations on your website. Well done—you’ve grown your event from a lesser-known get together to something industry professionals are circling on their calendars. But with that success comes the responsibility of scaling your trade show in line with expectations.
First thing’s first—don’t panic. A sound strategy is all that’s needed to move your event from the shadows and into the spotlight with ease.
EventBrite reported that organizers should first vet any new registrants, especially if they’re hosting a free event. If space is limited, you don’t want to necessarily give out space to those who won’t utilize it best. While you’ll want to be able to get everyone in the doors, if spatial limitations dictate otherwise then you should restrict attendance to industry professionals.
Another option is to scale attendance with exhibitors, the news source reported. Turning a one-day event into a two-day extravaganza is a great way to entertain a crowd of any size. Just be sure you have enough organizations to present on both days.
Pick the right venue
In this day and age of business and leisure, many professionals can get used to an event being hosted in one location. This leads them to make plans, like staying a week extra on paid time off, that coincide with your trade show. If you decide your venue just can’t fit everyone in attendance at the last minute, this could put your exhibition’s reputation in a tailspin.
Before your event starts to explode in popularity, EventBrite suggests finding a location that can scale in size. Locations that can adapt square footage, or have multiple rooms to accommodate different-sized events, are your best friend. Location becomes intertwined with the branding of your trade show, so you’ll want to pick one that you can return to for years to come.
Take some time to decide which part of the country you want to settle down in and work to find a long-term venue provider to suit your needs. Your attendees who book everything in advance will thank you later, and you won’t stress when registration numbers skyrocket unexpectedly.
Identity spurs growth
If your event is still niche and you want it to grow in popularity, one of the most important things you can do is develop a strong brand for it. Your trade show’s target audience should be millennials and Generation X. These are the two groups of people you should be focused on as Baby Boomers are nearing their retirement age.
“60% of millennials are loyal to brands they associate with.”
Nearly 3 in every 5 millennials consider themselves loyal to companies’ brands they’ve developed connections with, according to an Elite Daily Consumer Study. This word is loaded and can mean a lot of things, but hosting a mostly digital and electronics driven event will undoubtedly support the idea that, for young professionals in your particular industry, there’s no other trade show more cutting-edge than yours.
Incorporating new technologies like holograms or digital signage as a means of wayfinding, or highly popular forms of communication like social media and live streaming, can show that your event is willing to cater specifically to the technologically-inclined. This could go a long way toward developing an identity and cultivating a loyal base of attendees.
Pick the right staff
Ultimately, the success you have in scaling your event from niche to mainstream will fall down to the people putting it together. Take your time to find the right event planner and/or contractor, event technologist and event staffers. In a sense, they’ll be the backbone to your trade show.
Rushing to hire people when you’re short on staff will only dilute the event’s brand and your ideal image of what it can be. You need a solid infrastructure to bring an event to the forefront of your industry, and successful planning is a large part of that.