Most organizations only have the budget to exhibit at a select few tradeshows each year and obviously you’d prefer that they attend yours. If an exhibitor has to pick and choose, why would they choose your conference over another? Based on results from surveys that were sent to exhibitors after a number of our conferences, networking, lead generating, and creating awareness of their company are the main objectives for an exhibitor to attend a tradeshow. If these needs are met your tradeshow is valuable to the exhibiting company, and your exhibitor will be back next year.
Focus on Value vs. Cost
What matters to exhibitors is not the cost of the booth, but rather what is included in the price and the value they take home from the show. They want to be sure that they are achieving the three goals mentioned above. Charge exhibitors a little more and include things that facilitate that value such as social events and meals (both good for networking) instead of listing these as extra costs. Talk to your exhibitors and find out what is of value to each exhibitor specifically. Use their feedback from year to year to improve the experience and meet their needs.
Make Registration Information Timely and Crystal Clear
Organizations are presented with a lot of opportunities to exhibit. Make sure that your exhibitor information package is professional, informative, and to the point. Once an exhibitor is registered, follow up periodically to ensure that they have all the information they need to prepare for the tradeshow. Always send a final email to exhibitors a week or two prior to the event with the floor plan, set up and tear-down information, event schedule, hotel information, show services details, on-site contact information and anything else that might be of value. Be available to your exhibitor and use your customer service skills to make your event stand out from the others.
Offer Customized Sponsorship Opportunities
At most of our tradeshows, exhibitors are also the sponsors. Speak to your exhibitors and find out how you can help meet their specific marketing objectives. What type of opportunities would help improve their overall experience and the return on investment at this conference? Work with them to customize sponsorship opportunities outside of what was offered in the sponsorship package.
Create Opportunities for Meaningful Time with Delegates
In order to meet their objectives, exhibitors need to speak with your conference delegates. Review your conference schedule and ensure that delegates have enough free time to walk through the tradeshow. You could look at having the breakfast, lunch and breaks in the exhibit space, or have some time in the schedule reserved for networking with exhibitors. Share your list of delegates with your exhibitors (with delegate consent). This allows them to prepare for conversations with specific buyers. A list of the top eight reasons for exhibiting at tradeshows, provided in The Value of Trade Shows, reports that 88% of exhibitors exhibit for awareness. Exhibitors need to be seen!
Exhibitors are valuable to the success of any conference. Develop relationships with exhibitors, attend to their needs, and demonstrate that you value their presence. Put a little bit of effort towards keeping your exhibitors happy and you won’t have to work as hard to fill your tradeshow next year.