Exhibitors are the heart and soul of every trade show. They design fun, inviting atmospheres for attendees to learn and experience the new products the industry has to offer. However, exhibiting at trade shows can be expensive, and often hard for companies to budget enough money to attend those significant industry events. As the trade show organizer, it is your job to provide the best value you can for exhibitors at the show. Creating and balancing your own event budget can be overwhelming, and sometimes tempting to just bump up the prices for exhibitors to participate in the show. Yet, in order to develop good and lasting relationships with your exhibitors, it’s important to ensure the value of the event is on par with what they’re paying. Here are a few ways to improve relationships with exhibitors and increase their value at your trade show:
One way to improve exhibitor value at your show is transparency around your costs, fees, discounts, and available deals. In order to provide top-notch customer service that leaves your exhibitors feeling satisfied after the trade show, be upfront with them and address expectations; everyone appreciates honesty. When starting the conversation with a potential exhibitor about the trade show, outline exactly what costs are associated with each unique package available in a clear and simple format for understanding. Be sure to let them know about any and all discounts and deals available, whether through the General Show Contractor (GSC), early signup, the venue, or your vendors at the event. Even if they refuse, they will appreciate the offer.
Another way to increase exhibitor value is to offer them choices when it comes to vendors. A large part of the exhibitor’s budget is show services, such as set up, tear down, transportation and experiential services. Most of these vendor relationships and opportunities are negotiated by you, the show organizer. Generally, exhibitors don’t appreciate when they’re forced to use the GSC or other exclusive contractors for their show services. It stifles creativity and can hike up costs for their services, causing exhibitors to sacrifice funding in other areas of their budget, such as marketing and promotion. This hit can decrease ROI for your exhibitors and discourage them from reparticipating in your show. By allowing exhibitors to choose their own vendors, they’re given more control over their trade show budget and the success of their exhibit space.
A third way to optimize exhibitor value is to fill your event with attendees in their target audiences. Exhibitors choose to invest in trade shows to increase their brand awareness, sales, and partnerships. Therefore, it’s critical for you to create an environment for them to generate these relationships to ensure they’re receiving value from your event. A few ways to do this include matching: a) the types of companies represented by attendees with those your exhibitors want to do business with b) attendee job functions with the target personas your exhibitors are looking to meet and c) interested buyers of the products exhibitors are showcasing to decision makers of their organizations. If you’re able to fulfill each of these pairings, you’ll greatly increase the value of your show for exhibitors along with your renewal rate for your next event.
Overall, the best way to create a strategy that increases value for your exhibitor is to think in their shoes. Consider the costs, their ROI, and why they should choose your trade show instead of a competing event. Once you understand and appreciate the hows and whys of the exhibitor decision-making process, you can pinpoint those opportunities to increase the value of your show. Some ways to do this include: vendor choice, offering discounted packages that include space rental, furniture, and other set up and design elements, or providing materials that help exhibitors more easily market your show or outline tips on how they can be successful.
In the end, you can’t have a trade show without exhibitors. And in the same manner, exhibitors determine the success of your show through the ROI they’re providing to attendees who invest their time and money to be there. Don’t confuse or coerce exhibitors with high prices and exclusive contractors. Increase the value of your show by being transparent, offering exhibitors competitive choices, and providing a high-quality gathering of buyers at the event.
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