Show Your Exhibitors How Much You Appreciate Them

Associations sometimes spend more time worrying about their meeting attendees than their exhibitors. But some are starting to realize that offering additional benefits to exhibitors can lead to not only greater loyalty but also higher nondues revenue and engagement that extends beyond the meeting.

Exhibitors  spend a lot of money to exhibit at your association’s tradeshow, but the reasons they do so are all good ones. These include getting face time with current clients and potential new ones, introducing a new product or service to the marketplace, and checking out their competition and what they have to offer.

This value-added service means that now [an exhibitor’s] space rental fee provides benefits not just during the show but throughout the year.

But it’s a two-way street: Association meetings and tradeshows couldn’t thrive—or even survive—without their exhibitors. After all, an exhibit hall filled with solutions that help your industry’s leaders do their jobs better will attract more attendees. Not to mention that exhibit booth sales equal nondues revenue for your organization.

Earlier this week I came across an article by Michael Hart on Expoweb.com that looked at four ways that NACE International had used technology to grow its CORROSION show’s revenue by nearly 30 percent. While all four ideas are worth reading about, two resonated with me because they involved the idea of offering your exhibitors a little something extra to show appreciation and help them spread the word about their services as well as your show.

The first was its exhibitor e-marketing campaign, which is a free service that allows exhibitors to “market their presence at the show to their customers and provide them with free exhibit hall passes.” CaLae McDermott, NACE’s manager of conferences, told Expoweb the service helps exhibitors develop their own branding for the show.  While only 75 out of 400 exhibiting companies used the campaign at the 2013 meeting, it led to 123,000 emails being sent to 46,798 unique email addresses. The good news for NACE: 98 percent of those email addresses were not previously in its database, and the association estimates the initiative led to 1,351 new registrants, more than half of whom were not previously familiar with NACE—a definite win-win for both exhibitors and the association.

The second thing NACE offered was an onsite housing kiosk for exhibitors. Located at the back of the show floor in the same area where exhibitors go to book their space for next year’s meeting, the kiosk also gave exhibitors a way to book their hotel rooms. What made it really interesting was the technology used by NACE’s housing vendor. It stores exhibitors’ preferences, room-rate history, and housing needs, so rooms can be booked super fast and on the spot.

NACE is not alone in using technology to enhance exhibitor offerings. Design & Construction Week, comprising the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show (IBS) and other industry shows, announced last week that it partnered with IndustryTracker from ExpoBee to offer a year-round newsfeed to extend the life of the tradeshow.

The fully automated service harvests news on a daily basis from the websites of hundreds of IBS exhibiting companies, NAHB, Design & Construction Week-supporting organizations, and other industry resources.

It works by asking attendees to choose the exhibitor categories, exhibiting companies, and topics they care about most; based on their choices, a personalized, easy-to-follow newsfeed is created. “For Design & Construction Week exhibitors, this value-added service means that now their space rental fee provides benefits not just during the show but throughout the year,” said the statement.

Smaller associations may lack the staff and budget resources to offer these types of extras to exhibitors, but they can consider other options. An easy one could be a discount for exhibitors that reserve a booth for next year’s show during the current one. Another would be discounts based on how many years in a row a company has exhibited, whether that’s two, five, or 10. Or perhaps take a cue from the Licensing Expo, which recently launched its new Perks Program.  The show, taking place in June in Las Vegas, is offering both attendees and exhibitors “exclusive discounts on top attractions in Las Vegas.” These discounts cover everything from spa treatments to museum and show admissions to golf tee times.

What does your association offer its exhibitors, whether to show appreciation or to help them spread the word about their product or company? Please share in the comments.

(Digital Vision/ThinkStock)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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