Open the Doors for Your Exhibitors’ Success!
Hey, association folks… as a regular sponsor and exhibitor, I want to ask you a question… are you really – really – giving your exhibitors the best opportunity to succeed at your show?
I consider a successful show one where I am able to make connections with people who may want to use the solutions that Omnipress offers. I will gladly pay the thousands of dollars for travel, freight, booth space, badge reader rental and even carpeting if I know I will be able to share a description of our services with the people who come to your show.
Yet more and more I find barriers to being able to reach those people when I go to shows. Take opt-out lists, for example. Many shows now include a checkbox on the registration form that allows attendees to opt out of receiving information from exhibitors and sponsors. We’re all being careful about legal issues these days and making sure we respect attendees’ privacy, and a lot of the most important organizations in our industry seem to be doing this (such as ASAE, PCMA, MPI, Association Forum, etc). But when you cut off our connections to people, you eliminate the benefit I get from attending.
The simple fact is that if we exhibitors cannot market and sell to your attendees, eventually we may decide we are not going to be able to justify the price of your event. I know you’re already challenged to keep your exhibitors coming to your events – do you really want to take away more of the value we expect?
Consider these proposals for…
A better system to help your exhibitors get value from your event
1. Offer multiple registration rates for attendees
- Lowest registration fee for attendees that accept mail and email marketing from exhibitors and sponsors. Their registration fee is $395.
- Those who accept snail mail only = $495 (emphasizes green marketing practices)
- Those who decline all marketing = $595 (Don’t want to play…then you gotta pay!)This pricing strategy sends a clear message to the attendee that the exhibitors and sponsors are paying for a considerable portion of the expenses while still offering them the option to opt-out… but now it has economic context.
2. Put the opt-out logistics on the exhibitors’ side
- You could make it clear to exhibitors that the first information they send to a new contact after a conference will have clear, easy opt-out instructions. Most exhibiting companies are very respectful to our contact list, and we certainly don’t want to send out communications to people who don’t want to talk to us.
3. Charge for a trip to the exhibit hall
- Make the exhibit hall a pay-to-enter area where attendees actually have to pay to get in. The reality is that there are solutions galore on the exhibit hall floor to make an attendee’s life better. Every problem an association may have can be solved there – why not elevate this part of events to a more honored position?
4. Help brand your exhibitors as the consultants they are
- FREE consulting always given out to the inquiring attendee who never buys or is just gathering information. That’s part of the game! Industry events are put on for the education, and there is often as much education being delivered in a vendor booth as there is in an educational session. The beauty of the booth is that you can hire someone to do a particular thing versus having to trudge back to the office and try to implement some learning from an educational session on your own.
5. Stop mixing lunch with expo hours
- Although we as exhibitors love a free meal just as much as the next company, free meals in the exhibit hall floor brings in “qualified eaters” versus qualified buyers. Let’s focus on ways we can connect with attendees who need our services, not just attendees who need lunch. Create blocks of time that the expo floor is open, but not associated with lunch. Some expos are so large an attendee cannot meet everyone. Having dedicated expo hall times on different days separate from lunch places value on meeting suppliers.
So, what are your ideas for bringing more value to your exhibitors? I’m all ears!
Guest Post by Paul Wehking