Industry pros offer tips ranging from tools to help with planning to ideas on how to maximise a show visit.
Automate What You Can
Ambera Cruz, marketing director at software provider Meltwater, recommends using social- media management tools to schedule posts and provide regular updates to attendees. Create content in advance that will save time later ¬— copy, images, and videos can be scheduled to maximise engagement and coverage.
Make Use of Mobile Apps
Conference and trade-show mobile apps have the most up-to-date information on an event, so you can review exhibitor listings, choose favourites, and access content in advance.
Michael Toyne, senior project lead, large user conferences, at BCD Meetings & Events, uses event apps to research exhibitors to maximise appointments on the show floor. “I can ask [exhibitors] more questions about what is important, rather than perhaps just hearing their spiel if walking up to their booth,” he said.
Scope Out Large Events
For large events such as IMEX, plan schedules based on exhibitor location, concentrating your time in one area before moving to another.
Swapping or scanning business cards with exhibitors is second nature at events, but how many contacts do attendees engage with post-event and how many try to recall names months after, wasting precious time? Toyne said: “While I don’t follow up with each and every exhibitor I meet, if I want to hear more or get a product demo, I will contact them instead of waiting to hear back.”
Use RFID, QR, and AI for Registration
RFID and QR code-scanning are widely used to streamline the event-registration process, making a time-consuming task faster and easier. “AI-powered assistants such as chatbots and robots also help free up time, so you can focus on the creative side [of event planning] rather than mundane details,” said Teo Hui Hiang, marketing communications director, Pico Singapore.
Collect Data Via Event Apps
Event apps can unite exhibition organisers, exhibitors, and visitors on a unified digital platform to instantly share information. Some can help capture, monitor, and analyse data from event interactions, offering insights on performance and effectiveness in real time.
Hybrid events [combining face-to-face elements with an online presence] allow planners to engage existing and new audiences and can lead to longer engagement, according to Karine Desbant, global marketing and communications manager, association market, at MCI Group. This format can open an event to those from target markets who are unable to attend in person, perhaps because of time, distance, or financial restraints. “By adding a hybrid element, organisations will make the content more inclusive and more accessible,” Desbant said.
Take Advantage of Other Industries’ Tools
BCD’s Toyne recalls how severe weather disrupted a recent event, with the agency needing contingency plans for travellers’ air and hotel arrangements. “Instead of looking up and monitoring individual flights from our arrival/departure manifest, the FlightAware website [which offers free flight tracking] allowed us to see all flights from multiple airlines, helping us anticipate our needs,” he said.
Sync Devices, Databases, and Management Apps
Technology used to manage teams and events — from devices to software — should be synchronised. “Whether it’s a database of registered guests’ emails, a central server, a cloud-based system, or an online application, tying everything together enables all of your files to be updated and shared in real time,” said Meltwater’s Cruz.
Let Social Media Work for You
For social-media exposure, tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite can analyse performance and manage social-media accounts in one space. “By keeping things organised and observing interactions across platforms, planners can respond to audience reaction more quickly,” said Pico’s Hui Hiang.