With safety protocols such as masking and social distancing currently in place, exhibit halls may not have the same feel as they did before. But that doesn’t mean that attendees and exhibitors can’t have meaningful experiences, say experts.
“After these last 20 months and many surveys that have been done, we know that both exhibitors and attendees are craving to get back to face to face,” said Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, executive vice president and COO at the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. “It’s all about that one-on-one, being able to see, touch, meet, build relationships—those engaging experiences that are created on the show floor.”
Here’s the million-dollar question: How do you make the expo experience engaging? One thing exhibitors can do is start marketing their booth and other expo experiences early, said Robyn Davis, CEO of tradeshow consulting firm Exhibitors WINH.
“People aren’t taking advantage of the time before the event. I recommend at least two months of pre-show marketing,” she said. “If you’re not doing your pre-efforts, you won’t have the momentum to be successful during the show.”
Pre-show engagement communication can vary, but the goal is to make sure attendees feel respected and valued. “I like to encourage exhibitors to use multiple communication methods,” Davis said. “It’s not just email, or just direct mail, or just phone, but incorporate as many different communication methods as you can so that your audience feels like you’re targeting them where they are comfortable.”
Plus, when pre-show engagement is good, attendees are more invested when the event takes place. “People are having a hard time doing more with less,” Davis said. “So, if you can prove that you have value to share with them, that you are actually actively trying to help them—instead of make them sort through all your marketing speak—people are receptive to that.”