Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 28 2014

4 Tips Every Trade Show Organizer Should Share With Exhibitors

By David McMillin


A trade show’s success relies on more than just creating attendee traffic. It’s also about getting that traffic to pause, strike up conversations with sales reps and explore the products and services that line the show floor. A new report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research looks at how attendees prefer to interact in the exhibition setting and what exhibitors can do to create a more welcoming environment for prospective buyers.

If you’re looking to educate your exhibitors on effective show strategies, consider passing along these helpful takeaways from the research.

1) Experiencing means everything.

There’s one piece of the exhibition puzzle that matters more than anything: getting up-close and personal with new products and services. The most popular ways attendees prefer to interact on the show floor include seeing product demonstrations and participating in hands-on experiences with the products. The authors of the research, Jeff Tanner, PhD, Professor of Marketing at Baylor University, and Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director at CEIR, highlight that exhibitors must provide in-booth opportunities for attendees to see, touch and feel their core products.

SEE ALSO: How To Expand Your Trade Show Audience

2) Keep the video turned off.

While attendees might spend plenty of time clicking on YouTube links in their offices, they do not want to spend their time staring at screens while on the show floor. Only 15 percent of respondents indicated that they like to watch videos. Instead of giving them something to watch, it’s better to give them something to do.

“Interaction beats theater-style presentation,” Tanner and Drapeau write. “Where a product cannot be showcased physically in a booth, gamification or simulation approaches may offer fun ways to engage attendees while educating them on key features and benefits.”

SEE ALSO: Will Gamification Really Work With Your Attendees?

3) Don’t be afraid to give attendees some homework.

Attendees know they won’t be able to find all their answers during short stops at various booths on the floor. As they look to make purchasing decisions, they’re hoping the exhibition community will send them home with product brochures and pamphlets to help guide their search. Nearly 58 percent of attendees like to collect and read literature on exhibitors’ products and services.

SEE ALSO: The Trade Show That Breaks Attendance Records Every Year

4) Attendees want to be heard.

Attendees aren’t just looking to be the ears in the conversation; they’re hoping that exhibitors will take the time to listen to their needs.

“Today’s empowered consumers also want an opportunity to influence future product enhancements and offerings,” Tanner and Drapeau write. “They want to meet with staff, designers or management who can listen to needs and influence the process that translates feedback into future offerings.

SEE ALSO: Why Your Exhibitors Are Failing

Looking for more insights into making your next show more successful? Click here for an OnDemand educational session on how to help your attendees take home more knowledge from the show floor.

The CEIR report includes many more powerful insights into attendee interaction preferences. Go here to download the report (IAEE members can access the data free of charge.)

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