As an exhibition organizer, you have quite a bit on your plate. Venue selection, supplier coordination, marketing efforts; it all falls to you. But paramount to the success of your show (and your career!) is your ability to sell booths. Likewise, your ability to demonstrate positive ROI to your exhibitors is a key part of the equation. At the end of the day, that’s all about how many people actually show up in their booths. Sure, some of what makes one exhibitor appealing vs. another is outside your control but there are things you can do to improve the odds that exhibitors are going to walk away from the experience satisfied and ready to renew!
So, what kind of tricks should you have up your sleeve to steer traffic on the show floor? It starts with the floor plan design.
To segment or not to segment? That is the question. And thankfully, it’s been well-explored by Michelle Bruno in an earlier post this week so there’s no need to rehash the whole argument here. The bottom line? There are pros and cons for both strategies but you’re more likely to please both exhibitors and attendees with some sort of middle ground solution.
Maybe that means the floor plan is not segmented by product or services and you invest heavily in encouraging attendees to pre-plan and prioritize their time on the show floor by visiting pre-show interactive maps. Maybe you even provide technology that facilitates and encourages attendees to schedule appointments with exhibitors in advance. This way, attendees and exhibitors feel as though the experience has been catered to their needs or interests.
Even if they’re looking at the exact same thing you’d be referencing during a phone call, there’s power in the simple ability of exhibitors to be able to see the floor plan for themselves and select their own booth. Again, technology can provide the necessary tools to give exhibitors this greater sense of control in an easy and intuitive format.
NFC & Beacons
Probably the most direct example of how technology can be used to drive traffic on your show floor exists in the form of Near Field Communication devices and Bluetooth Beacons. Using NFC technology, attendee badges could be embedded with “tags” to enable an easy exchange of into between attendees and exhibitors on the floor. Exhibitors with signage that has also been embedded with an NFC tag could allow attendees to register to win a prize or download selective content simply by touching their badge to the booth signage – a low-stakes exchange for both parties. Simply knowing that such opportunities exist can be enough to drive attendees to explore a more expansive swath of the show floor than they might otherwise think they have time for.
Beacons on the other hand exhibitors an even more direct way to draw traffic by simply sending relevant info and messaging direct to nearby attendees via their smartphone. When this technology is tied in with registration data, exhibitors are then able to receive valuable information about nearby attendees in turn.
For organizers, this can be an especially effective way to drive traffic across the show floor given the gamification opportunities it provides. Scavenger hunts or contests that promote visiting as many booths as possible (as tallied by recorded interactions with well-spaced Beacons or NFC signage), encourage attendees to keep going into the far reaches of the floor plan.
Of course, you can’t be expected to predict the future, but new technology can get you pretty close in terms of being able to estimate booth traffic before the show. That starts with having a stellar event website that, itself, is drawing pre-show web traffic. Next up, you need to equip your site with powerful analytic tools so that you can accurately measure who is coming to the site and what they’re doing while they’re there. Then, invest in technology that can help you aggregate this data in a meaningful way that will help you get a view of how the outlook for actual traffic on the show floor is going to stack up. Finally, share that info with exhibitors who appear to be struggling.
You could stop there but this may also be a good opportunity to create a connection with exhibitors by offering to brainstorm potential strategies for boosting their exposure. What you come up with – a targeted email blast, increased visibility at the event, etc. – may also be additional sales opportunities for you.