If you've organised an exhibition or trade show you'll understand the pressure of trying to sell all the exhibitor spaces, and balance the expectations of the attendees and the exhibitors. We've outlined the 6 most important factors that will influence your exhibitor numbers, and understanding these factors can really help you achieve success when planning your exhibition and selling your exhibitor floor space.
As a successful exhibition organiser, you will be aware of all the exhibitions that are organised in your industry. Some industries will have multiple exhibitions and trade shows, while other industries will have no established exhibitions. Understand the current design of your industry in terms of the number of exhibitions held annually and the dates of the exhibitions. This helps you establish the best time for your exhibition. It is advisable that you don’t have your exhibition too closely to other competitors as it can diminish your exhibitor numbers. If you feel you have the better exhibition you may not heed this warning, but just remember if you are disappointed with your exhibitor numbers and your exhibition coincides with a competitor’s exhibition, this could explain why.
The venue that you choose for your exhibition can play a large role in how many exhibitors you will engage. Some venues are unacceptable for exhibitions because of accessibility issues, location or available floor space. If you choose a venue that will only hold 80 exhibitors with 3x3m shell-scheme stands, you cannot have a target of achieving more sales than this. You have effectively put a limit on the number of exhibitors that could possibly attend your exhibition, and this limit should be decided by your targets and goals, not by your venue choice.
How well you market your exhibition will affect your exhibitor numbers. You should ideally engage in a long marketing campaign and target your ads towards the exhibitors that you would like to attract. If you are organising an industry event you may be limited to how many exhibitors you could invite to take part, however it is always wise to consider the other professions that can play a role in an industry. For example, consider professions such as photographers who could provide services for other exhibitors that you attract. You should view your exhibition as a chance for your exhibitors to network and connect with other businesses as well as visitors and attendees that they sell to. This means casting a wide net of the exhibitors that you will attract. But you need time to cast a wide net and market your exhibition effectively.
How you sell
The way in which you sell exhibitor spaces will dictate your success and how many exhibitors that you attract to your exhibition. Ideally you would have a dedicated sales team whose sole purpose is to sell exhibitor spaces. This would make your exhibition a success, right? If you don’t have a dedicated sales team who can help sell your exhibitor spaces, then you might find that selling exhibitor spaces can be hard. There is the matter of where to source exhibitors, making sure that you are reaching a wide audience and including any possible exhibitor who may add value to your exhibition. You can achieve this in many ways, but the most important thing to remember is that you are providing good value to potential exhibitors. You must provide solid reasons for them to spend their hard-earned money with you. Creating documents that outline and detail the value that you are adding such as exhibitor manuals, also detail what exhibitors can expect and the costs involved. These documents will make exhibitors more wiling to trust you, and ultimately more willing to spend money with you.
Exhibition supplier service
Your exhibitors expect good customer service from you, but also from your chosen exhibition supplier. They are spending a lot of money to exhibit with you and they have a right to demand that you will offer great customer service. You are not only responsible for the customer service that you provide, but also the service provided by your chosen supplier. You have chosen them after all! You should have a checklist of things that you want the supplier to do for you, but you should also think about the needs of your exhibitors. Think about what you think their major needs might be, what they might consider to be useful and what will help them. You don’t want a supplier that is going to have a complicated process for order furniture or graphics. It will make it difficult for your exhibitors to purchase items, and this will lead in a decrease in sales. Your supplier needs to have your best interests at heart and want to make your exhibition successful. To do this, they need to be able to provide amazing service to your exhibitors.
Previous satisfaction of exhibitors
If you care about how successful your exhibition is, you will have examined how satisfied they are with how your exhibition is run each year. This is a great indicator that will dictate how many exhibitors you will attract at the next exhibition you organise. The satisfaction of your past exhibitors will bring them back to exhibit with you again. The flow on effects from having satisfied exhibitors is that they will champion your exhibition for you. If they are satisfied, they see exhibiting with you as a great marketing opportunity and they want many different people to come and see them at the exhibition. They want to encourage other exhibitors to join who may compliment their services and your exhibition. All of this leads to increased sales for them, and ultimately for you as the organiser. You should encourage your exhibitors to champion your exhibition, but they will only do this if they are truly satisfied with how you are organising the exhibition.
For more handy tips on how to improve your exhibition please read our guide on Overhauling Your Exhibition strategy. It provides clear tips on how to improve your exhibition and how to create a solid plan for your exhibition to ensure it remains successful.