Trade shows make up a significant portion of the U.S. economy, with B2B companies reporting as much as 40% of marketing budgets going to trade shows alone. Here are six essential elements to throwing a great trade show that will keep attendees talking about it year ’round.
1. A great host city and impressive exhibit hall forum. Aside from the standard go-to Las Vegas, there are a number of cities throughout the U.S. that regularly host wildly successful trade shows for their specific audience. It comes down to what is right for your core attendees. Do they like to listen to live music? Are they more into nice restaurants? Or perhaps it’s a wellness conference, and being close to nature hikes is ideal. Also, make sure to look into every detail regarding the conference hall’s I&D terms (Installation and Dismantle), and the local union terms too.
2. Empowered exhibitors who incorporate show branding into their own pre-show marketing buildup. A happy exhibitor makes for a happy show, but far too often exhibiting companies will only put out the bare-minimum effort to get their full ROI out of show space. Reach out to every exhibitor early to get them pumped about coming to the show, and remind them how important it is for them to let customers know about their upcoming exhibit space, and get out proper marketing materials beforehand.
3. Fun networking events and after parties. The trade show networking parties can be the highlight of a lot of attendees’ year. If you want to really impress, maybe host a VIP cocktail party in an executive suite on the top floor of a five-star hotel, or maybe host a roof deck pool party depending on the time of year. Make sure that guests feel comfortable and the venue allows for light, easy mingling, and also don’t forget to take care of transportation needs.
4. Post-show value for exhibitors in the form of data. For a lot of exhibitors, especially first-timers, the big question is how am I going to measure my attendance and presence at the show? This is where show organizers can really help out. The number of marketing impressions for their signage can be calculated by how many attendees walked by. Offer data on how many people entered in from specific doorways so that booths nearby will get an accurate count on how many people walked by during the show.
5. Great education, presentations, and giveaways. These are the “take-home” values that attendees bring back from the shows. By offering top-notch industry experts as speakers, and structuring education courses with pertinent topics, show attendees will be impressed with the amount of knowledge they’ll take back home. Show gift bags are also important to give out to attendees, and many times sponsors will spring for free branded USB sticks and other small items.
6. Proper catering. The food doesn’t need to be lavish, but something hearty and easy to manage will go over big amongst a large group of hungry show-goers. Again, look into sponsorship because you can often get support with food from local catering companies, restaurants, or breweries that want exposure.
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