“Where do I sign up for the next one?”
That’s the question we want to hear at the end of an incredible event, signaling that all your careful planning has paid off. It’s truly the ultimate validation for hosts and planners. But getting exhibitors and attendees to ask this important question isn’t always easy.
To create an expo that leaves people craving more, you must address the goals of the three most important people in the exhibit hall: You, Exhibitors, and Attendees.
Prioritize the Vision
For starters, it’s important to have a clear vision and purpose of what YOU want for the expo. The more defined your vision, the easier it will be to plan thoroughly and successfully — and to then make sure your exhibitors and attendees get what they want out of the expo, too.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve beyond early registrations for the next event. Narrow down your goals and allocate the budget to the highest priorities first. Education, entertainment, networking, great food, and even leisure are all common goals for clients. Which one sounds most important to you?
Once you know what you want, focus on your exhibitors’ needs. They provide a lot of revenue and are part of the reason why attendees sign up in the first place. What’s essential here is finding ways to keep them excited. During a big expo, for example, networking opportunities can bring attendees and exhibitors together that wouldn’t have connected otherwise. To achieve this, you can provide break areas for networking or organize a reception in the exhibit hall.
Another way to support exhibitors is to give them a chance to eat before the hall doors open. It sounds simple, but this gesture shows you have thoughtfully considered their needs. Similarly, consider hiring someone to go around and check on exhibitors from load in, during the show, to load out. You can be proactive about challenges and it also shows you are going the extra mile to help make them have a seamless experience.
Be sure to give your exhibitors the opportunity to feel heard as well. After the expo wraps, host a feedback meeting. Get them talking about what worked and what they’d like to see in the future. This forum will demonstrate your eagerness to continuously improve their experience; it’s also a great time to offer early registration discounts for the next expo.
Last but not least, you must think about what your guests want. We mentioned that exhibitors are part of the main draw, but what’s going to keep your attendees in the hall after they’ve visited the handful of booths they originally wanted to see?
Similar to exhibitors, networking opportunities are popular attractions for expo guests. Pop-up educational opportunities or areas for sponsors to present are big hits, too. Additionally, creating an engaging environment is very important for extending your guests’ time in the hall. Think about your layout and how things are being set up carefully. Offer charging stations, gaming areas, networking pods, and more. Make it feel fun and out of the box and they’ll never want to go home.
Lastly, reward your guests. Whether they receive a punch card at the door or have the ability to scan QR codes on your event app, incentivize them to move around the hall, offering prizes to anyone who visits a certain number of tables. As for the prize itself, that can be anything from drink tickets and branded sunglasses to high-end merchandise. Think about what type of prizes would appeal to your audience and try to tie it back to the theme of the event as well.
Do you have any questions about how best to plan your upcoming expo? The Coterie Spark team is eager to sit down with you and plan it out together. We can’t wait to hear from you.