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Event Industry

The View From The Booth

By: Andrew Pickup
June 1, 2023

As a vendor of software and services for Event Hosts - our perspective is mostly driven by our clients’ points of view. This Spring, we took part in two industry events as an Exhibitor, and this gave us a chance to live the “Exhibitor Experience” ourselves.

Like any Exhibitor, our goal was simply to find good leads. Seeing what worked and what failed gave us a wonderful insight into what our customers’ customers (exhibitors and sponsors) go through.

A few observations.

Confusion before the event

One of the events we went to chose to use different platforms for registration, badging, lead tracking and 1x1 Meetings. We were constantly confused.

We are registered on this platform with this link - but not that one. The name in this platform is wrong - but you have to edit it in that platform. In one case we had the wrong LeadTracker App because even the host was confused which one to use.

And all the emails we received were fragmented, and from many different senders, and on narrow topics. We found ourselves wading through them all to find the one we were looking for. Oof.

Free to attend? Uh oh!

Free to attend is a double-edged sword. There are no obstacles for people to register off a slick marketing campaign. But signing up is a long way from booking a flight and a hotel room.

The number of attendees who actually showed up was a fraction of the meaty attendee list we were shown on the platform before the event. This is very frustrating for an exhibitor.

What’s the answer? Well..

If you make an event hybrid - do hybrid properly

Do a nice job of webcasting the keynote sessions, both live and for replays. And the replays should be available right after the sessions, when online attendees are there, not days later.

Tell the Speaker who is listening to which session. We were a Speaker at one of these shows and would have loved to have known who listened to our session, and for how long. Those listeners are great leads and would have gone a long way to make up for low attendance onsite. But it was not to be.

It was the same with the meetings. We had quite a few meeting no-shows: people who just never came to the event. Those meetings could have been moved to a few days later and a zoom session.

ALL our leads came through meetings…

Speaking of meetings, both of these events had a meetings program. One was a big program for everyone, nothing managed or moderated, and the other was a small hosted-buyer affair for 20 vendors and 20 buyers. .

For a faster way of tracking and comparing attendee interests, you can use AI matchmaking for more personalized solutions. Since AI matchmaking uses deep learning algorithms, it will be easier to analyze thousands or even millions of data to get the best recommendations in a matter of seconds.

The small program generated six or so really good meetings with great prospects and we had a really good time talking through their events and how we could help. The large one was a mess: lots of requests we made were never answered, and lots of requests were received, but mostly from firms that wanted to sell to us, not buy!

Done well, a meeting program is a fantastic resource for a vendor. Done poorly it can be a time waster.

…not the booth

At both events, very, very little came in from the booth itself. For products that are touchy-feely like food, gadgetry, clothing, furnishings, machinery, booths are great, and they get good traffic.

That’s not us. For our business, software and services, the booth adds very little. The meetings are everything.

These were our observations, and they will directly impact how we do other shows in future. We’d would love to hear from anyone who has recent direct experience of attending shows themselves, as an exhibitor. Do any of these observations resonate with you? What did we miss?

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