Meetings Pro Tip: Invest in an Exhibitor Success Program

Building a program that helps drive exhibitor success could highlight that your association understands the value that exhibitors bring to events.

Perhaps this sounds familiar: Your exhibitors have spent a couple of years on the digital sidelines. And now that in-person events are returning, they’re looking for ways to ensure that they can get their money’s worth out of investing in a booth at your meeting.

With that in mind, you might want to bolster your strategies to ensure that they have a good experience on the expo hall floor. Here’s one way of helping them along.

What’s the Strategy?

Consider setting up an exhibitor success program for your next event. A program of this nature combines pre-event education resources with onsite support, with the goal of helping exhibitors put their best face forward.

A number of associations are trying this—for example, here’s a variation done the National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo—and generally, they emphasize connecting an exhibitor’s presence at an event with a given measurement of ROI.

Interest in this kind of approach is growing. Recently, the event vendor Fern announced an initiative to launch exhibitor success programs with the help of Stephan Murtagh, aka The Exhibition Guy. Fern and Murtagh will offer a three-level training program to interested parties—with a focus on pre-show planning, last-minute success, and post-event lead nurturing.

“Now our event organizer clients can pass [this] expertise along to their exhibitors to provide a meaningful and tangible return that will result in higher exhibitor satisfaction levels, retention and new sales,” said Jim Kelley, vice president, marketing and industry relations for Fern, in comments to the Trade Show News Network.

Why Is It Effective?

Exhibitors often choose to take part in an event based on the positive impact the event can have on their business or initiative. Research from BPA Worldwide finds that, in terms of tracking ROI, some of the most important elements cited by exhibitors are related to building effective leads (82 percent), the level of booth traffic (74 percent), and an analysis of costs versus returns (59 percent).

So, for event organizers, making clear to exhibitors the amount of legwork that goes into creating a positive experience may help lead to better results—and potentially, a return to the event in future years.

What’s the Potential?

A long-term program of exhibitor success could prove a huge bump for an event, especially as it creates a culture around encouraging a track record of success for exhibitors.

For associations that are serving this community, it could also help create a culture of encouragement in general, something recommended by the website Tradeshow Logic, which published a list of tips on how to bring exhibitors back the right way.

“Don’t talk to them. Listen to them,” the list states. “Identify their greatest challenges and highest areas of need. Find out how their marketing needs are shifting.”

(wenjin/DigitalVision Vectors)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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