Improve Exhibitor Experience At Your Next Event
How trade show and exhibition organizers improve exhibitor experience is becoming a more and more vital part of what exhibition and trade show businesses are focusing on. Why? Because the experience of their exhibitors (sponsors) directly affects their ability to create renewals and grow new business. The people that spend marketing dollars on exhibits or trade show booths to show off their product or service want to feel like they’re spending money on a show that is meaningful and worth the investment of their time and resources. In other words, the experience is everything!
The exhibitor experience is more than ambiance
More than anything else, exhibition and trade show customers want to feel like a conference or trade show gets it. They want to feel like the event they are attending is where colleagues, executives and thought-leaders in the industry come together. This is more than just what the event looks and feels like when you arrive, it's everything from your event website, to the interactions that take place on the show floor, to how they interact with your operations team before and after the event.
If organizers can’t create and market an environment with a powerful exhibitor experience, prospective exhibitors will likely migrate towards the ones that do. Ultimately, the exhibitor experience will define the perception of many shows over the next 2-3 years, and those that fall behind may not ever recover.
Technology is advancing extremely quickly to help improve exhibitor experience, and those leading the charge will be poised to breakout. It's important to explore what strategies and techniques can be applied to ensure that your event doesn't fall behind.
3 ways to improve exhibitor experience
#1.) Advanced Floor Planning
More and more venues are using floor plan strategies to change the way attendees experience their event. Often, exhibitors feel crammed in and under-valued (after they have spent thousands of dollars on booth space!). This leaves a bad taste in their mouth. Proper floor planning has to be about more than just maximizing space, it has to help enhance the experience as well. How do you maximize space and improve the experience?
- Focus on floor plan designs that do more than maximize space
- Build a floor plan design that creates a dynamic flow of traffic through every booth
- Have a story behind your floor planning strategy that you can share and market to prospective customers. For example, have you proven over time that a certain floor plan will increase interactions this year over last?
#2.) Making Business A Breeze
By integrating your backend and front end operations, you can expect to make customer interactions far less complex. The last thing vendors, sponsors and exhibitors want to do is spend tons of time managing operations on your behalf. They want everything to be easy, quick and maybe even fun. If you can streamline how they purchase booth space, manage their listing and interact with your show, there is a significantly higher chance that you can grow sales and streamline renewals.
This is almost impossible in many current trade show or exhibition businesses; as they are managed in multiple systems or spreadsheets with little congruency. Without integration of these systems, you run the risk of making the process too complicated - or worse - having something important fall through the cracks. Businesses should seek to make customer interactions brief and positive.
How you do it...
- Integrate front end processes with your web portal or event registration system.
- Connect the back office with the front office. Have your finances and billing system connected to your front-end registration system. This saves your operations team valuable time and improves the experience for exhibitors.
- Work the way your customers do. Provide mobile solutions that will allow them to make decisions on the go. Additionally, implement tablets on the show floor; allowing your staff to go around booth to booth renewing exhibitors for the next show
These things all make sense, but many trade shows and exhibitions still are not implementing many of the technologies described above.
#3.) Consider the future of the IoT (Internet of Things)
Yes, the IoT hasn’t fully integrated itself with the exhibition and trade show industry yet. But consider this: 75% of people that regularly access technology have interacted with a wearable or other IoT device in the last 60 days. Your audience and exhibitors understand this technology and are already using it to make their lives easier. What if your exhibition or trade show is the first to implement tracking with an ibeacon, heat maps, real-time social buzz notifications or one of the many other smart technologies that could easily be applied to the trade show industry?
Imagine there’s a big screen that is constantly showing a heat map of where the majority of a trade show audience is during an event, this can be used to alert attendees of something happening in one location or another (major exhibitor announcement or demonstration, etc.) based on attention (building of a crowd). This will encourage vendors to step up their game to draw a crowd, and incentivize them to participate more with audience members; all the while providing an opportunity for your vendors to engage more fully with your attendees. Attendees could receive text or social media notifications (if they choose) to be alerted of anything significant; further increasing attendee engagement in your event as well.
This is just one example of how the IoT could improve exhibitor experience by using a simple heat map in real-time. Just imagine what else is possible?
Exhibition and trade show organizers will battle to improve exhibitor experience over the next couple of years. Those that are the most successful will grow their shows significantly; while those that fall behind may be at risk. Things like advanced floor planning, systems integration and the IoT could play major roles in how many businesses approach how they improve exhibitor experience.