Dear Show Organizers… Here’s What Exhibitors
We speak with exhibitors daily and learn about their challenges and why they hesitate to invest in events again. With virtual events having very low satisfaction ratings and live event attendance being uncertain… exhibitors are carefully evaluating each event to decide:
- Which events they will or will not participate in (Top performers only, new markets, etc)
- In what way do they want to participate (Exhibit, Speaker, Attendee, other)
- How much they want to invest (Booth, staff, tech, marketing, sponsorships, private meetings, etc)
- With events now being virtual, live and hybrid, what should they change, improve, automate, streamline and make more efficient to set up their team to handle any type of event and get highest ROI
Of course, that last one is where we come in, but let’s first dive into what factors play into the exhibitors decision to exhibit at an event.
Exhibitors want SERVICE
Exhibitors from every industry have stories to share. Some stories are amazing, about organizers who really understand their needs and set them up for success. Other stories are about their frustrations of not being treated as the customer or getting the ROI they expected. Many will be making their decisions based on their relationships with each event organizer and how much they care to hear about their challenges and offer solutions that set them up for success.
Solution: Deliver concierge style service
Exhibitors want EXPOSURE
Every exhibitor we speak to is asking organizers to make connecting to their target audience easier. They want their brand to be seen, their prospects to find them, and their new products or services to be showcased. Event organizers who build some basic brand exposure opportunities into their event will provide added value to exhibitors on the fence.
Solution: Offer unique engagement experiences the drive attendees to take action
Exhibitors want EASY
Technology just took a huge leap forward and exhibitors are trying to catch up. Imagine you are an exhibitor with 50 to 100 events planned in the next 12 months, and imagine that every event is using a different live, virtual or hybrid event technology and having to build out a new virtual booth at every event. This is time consuming and costly.
Solution: Just as exhibitors can bring their own booth to the show floor, let them also bring their own virtual booth. Some exhibitors already have a virtual booth. Most are a simple landing page on their website and others are a more interactive 3D environment. Either way, exhibitors are able to present their brand, products and services in their own unique way to engage attendees and capture leads. Give them the option to plug in their own virtual booth and not be restricted by your choice of platforms.
Exhibitors want to STREAMLINE
With every event offering a different lead capture solution, how much time and energy does the exhibit manager spend on training their team for every single event to ensure no lead is missed and everything flows nicely into their sales process? How many leads are not captured because they have one scanner to share among their team? How many leads don’t receive follow up until days after the event or not at all? How does a company close deals if the next step of the sales & marketing process is not integrated into their lead capture workflow? The challenge is real!
Solution: Do not restrict their ability to capture leads. Now more than ever, exhibitors are seeking a Universal Lead Capture (ULC) provider so their sales team can use the same lead capture system with automated follow up and sales analytics everywhere they go. Event organizers who offer an option for exhibitors to plug into their Registration API will see exhibitor ROI soar and attrition decrease. Organizers who use unfriendly platforms that restrict API access for scanning badges will find push back from exhibitors who will find those events less valuable or friendly to their company.
Exhibitors want ENGAGEMENT
Ask any exhibitor…if you put them in front of a prospect…they will take care of the rest. That is why gamification has become so popular. Exhibitors who use an exciting activation or game in their booth are seeing up to 3x to 5x more leads captured than booths who do not. Plus, it is a known fact that attendees who engage in a memorable experience are 22% to 35% more likely to remember the brand and engage in a next step. Ask any marketing person, this is a dream for any brand and a goldmine for salespeople seeking to build new relationships. Exhibitors who know this are asking organizers for ways to promote their games and incorporate them into the event experience. Show organizers need to be prepared. Exhibitors are on the hunt for engagement solutions and want to incorporate them into the event.
Solution: Organizers have an opportunity to make their event more exciting and engaging! We suggest offering gamified lead capture as a premium option, or inviting exhibitors to “bring their own game” and plug it into your treasure hunt or other event engagement experience!
Exhibitors want ROI
If you were to speak to the CEO of any exhibiting company, they would tell you that ROI is their primary reason for exhibiting. Exhibiting at any event must contribute to the growth of their organization and move the needle forward. Exhibitors measure ROI in different ways depending on their goals. If brand exposure is the goal, they might track email and banner ad views, click thru’s, open rates, game plays, etc. to measure ROI. If lead capture is the goal they would track leads captured, quantity vs quality of leads, and sales generated to measure ROI. The more organizers understand the goals of the exhibitors, the better chance they have at meeting their expectations.
Solution: If show organizers want to improve their attrition year over year, they need to help exhibitors see the value and results your event delivers. Example: Instead of a paper scavenger hunt that cannot be truly measured, use a digital solution (Such as Waypoints or Hybrid Gamification) that can provide detailed analytics to both the show organizer and the exhibitor with a list of leads that supplement the lead capture their sales team is using in the booth.
In a nutshell, as we return to live events we cannot go back to the way things were. Events are forever changed, technology just took a huge leap forward, and hybrid is here to stay. The best thing organizers can do is to listen to exhibitors as they explain their challenges, enable them to be successful, and be open minded to doing things differently.
Oh…I almost forgot. I have a quick message for Exhibitors too!
Please keep in mind that event organizers need your help too. Their biggest challenges right now are re-negotiating contracts, managing logistics, and trying to organize speaker agendas and finalize floorplans when exhibitors and speakers are waiting until the last minute to confirm. Organizers have a lot on their plate trying to fill the exhibit hall, promote the event, make people feel safe, and bridge the gap between live and virtual. Now more than ever they are stressed to bring their event back to life on tight deadlines while trying to give you the service you need to ensure you return next year. Please work with them, confirm as early as you can, be patient if they can’t get back to you right away, offer suggestions and partner with them to put on a great show. The challenge of getting our industry up and running again is real and the best thing we can do is to help each other succeed.