Exhibitors are critical to the success of your event. They offer something your attendees want or need and give you an additional source of revenue outside of ticket sales. Some exhibitors even become sponsors. But none of the good stuff happens if the exhibitors aren’t happy. And they won’t be happy if they aren’t getting more customers out of your event.
Running a successful event can be a precarious balance between addressing exhibitor needs and allocating your resources. But you’ll be happy to know there’s event tech available that will help you find a good combination of giving them what they want without taxing your resources. That way, you can deliver on your exhibitor promise of return on investment without neglecting other areas of your event.
So what types of event technology can assist with your exhibitor management tasks? There are a lot of features to choose from, and if your budget allows it, you’ll likely want to invest in tech that helps you do three things:
- Streamline operational tasks involving exhibitors
- Analyze data for deriving exhibitors’ ROI
- Provide exhibitors with an experience they haven’t received elsewhere
Here are some of our favorite types of event tech to help:
Streamlining Tasks Lets Planners Help Exhibitors With Less Strain on Resources
If you can use technology to streamline your tasks, you can get more done with fewer resources, in less time. So what are some tech examples that can help you and your exhibitors save time? Here are a couple of tech tools that we suggest:
Exhibitor Ordering Tools
When it comes to exhibitors, there are a lot of details to manage. Not only are there many questions and tons of arrangements to be made, they may also need to order several things. Yes, you can work as a middleman between your exhibitor and the venue, but your talents probably better used and needed in other areas. There’s no reason to take individual requests from each of your exhibitors when they can all be automated and placed online for easy access by your venue and you. There are systems designed to submit orders for labor, exhibit products, and other personalized needs like shipping quotes.
Exhibitor Inventory Management
After the order is placed, the next logical question is, where is everything? Tracking conference pieces is a job unto itself, especially when some exhibitors have items shipped from other conferences to your event without going back home first. That’s where inventory management plays a critical role in your success. After all, an exhibitor who isn’t worried about their marketing collateral has more time to plan for and enjoy your event.
Implementing a barcode tracking system will assist exhibitors in knowing where everything is, and when it will be where they need it. These robust tools not only track location and arrival, but can track usage and condition of the items. Inventory management software can even be programmed to remind exhibitors of out-of-date or worn items so that they can promptly move them and schedule them for disposal.
Data Analysis Builds Exhibitor Loyalty
Most exhibitors have one thing in mind--ROI, return on investment. If your event can’t produce it, or better yet, show them the return, you won’t have the type of returning exhibitor that saves you time and money knowing they will continue to invest with you. Without loyal exhibitors, you’re recruiting from scratch each year. And any planner knows that upselling a warm lead or loyal exhibitor is a whole lot easier than beginning fresh at the end of each conference or event cycle.
Just a few years ago, event planners would run the numbers and send them along to the exhibitors. Some just assumed the exhibitor’s sales team would process the leads and divvy them out when they got back to the office. This left the planner in a reactive position when it came to the exhibitor ROI calculation. Not ideal for anyone. Instead, tech can place you in a proactive, data-sharing mode.
Deeper Exhibition Insights
Just as you may be using data and attendee activity history to customize your offerings, some of that data may be valuable to your exhibitors. Sharing that data with them helps exhibitors be more effective in the sales process and offer your audience more of what they want. That helps you both. The exhibitors close more sales and they do it in a way that is more palatable to your visitors. It’s a win/win for everyone involved. But don’t provide info just for the sake of performing a data dump. Make sure it’s actionable and of interest to them.
Real-Time Event Analysis
Today, real-time analysis beats crunching the numbers and counting leads when the exhibitor gets home. It can help you analyze foot traffic, room flow, and other things that affect results. Best of all, you can access the information while there’s still time to affect change. Show real-time exhibitor ROI with tech by capturing behavior-driven data. Give them insights into buyer behavior and other actions that will influence their event selection next year.
It’s also important to gather feedback from exhibitors in real-time while you can act on it, not weeks later post-conference. Small changes due to information gathered through personal interaction, polls and surveys, or traffic flow analysis can help you ensure they can be as successful as possible at your event. Now if only you could close the leads for them…
Unique Experiences Drive Exhibitor Interest and Word of Mouth
Sure, you know it’s important to be concerned about attendee experience and creating a WOW! effect, but they’re not the only ones who enjoy such things. Your exhibitors want a personalized and unique experience at your event as well. But they’re likely not looking for a jaw-dropping moment or headline entertainment. What they likely want is for you to somehow make their job easier on them and make them more effective in closing leads. Here are a few ways you can help with that:
Online Sponsorship Platforms and Websites as Resources
Sponsorships can be an emotional decision based on a reaction to a business concern/downturn or a positive reaction based on something with your event. Either way, when an exhibitor realizes they want to play a larger role in your event, you want them to be able to act on it immediately. One of those ways is using an online sponsorship platform that helps users search possibilities without waiting on a return phone call from you or your staff. Search by keyword, category, or even locations on the event floor. List pricing, sponsorship packages, deadlines, and everything they need to make a decision. Interest can then be submitted online without delay. You don’t need any friction holding up the process or stymying someone’s decision to exhibit with you.
If an online sponsorship/exhibition platform doesn’t fit into your event budget, consider placing all of the needed content on your website so potential exhibitors can self-identify and decide if your event is a good fit for them. Some events will lock the exhibitor brochure behind an email address gate because they want to be able to follow up on a potential lead. However, if you have all of your information available online, including the ability to secure it and pay for it, you will only receive calls from interested exhibitors, not ones who simply need information on an event they can’t afford or know little about. This simple action increases the quality of your leads.
Event Apps Mean More Meetings and More Potential Customers for Exhibitors
Pre-arranged event meetings generally yield better results for exhibitors. Using an event app that makes it easy to schedule meetings ahead of time is bound to make them more successful in their undertakings, but it doesn’t stop there. Event apps now have the capability to understand where attendees are and share that information with interested exhibitors. For instance, an exhibitor’s loyal customer might be at the next booth over. It’s valuable for them to be able to say “hello” and offer them some swag in appreciation for their past purchases. This makes your exhibitor look good, which they will appreciate.
Use Gamification to Drive More Traffic to Booths
Finally, using gamification, in-app contests, or an electronic scavenger hunt can help drive traffic to your exhibitors’ areas, while improving guest experience as well. It also gives them a common ground to talk about. If you’re using tech in a competition of some sort, you can provide your exhibitors with some clues that will assist them in conversation with guests and help them be seen in a favorable light because of the non-sales assistance they were able to provide.
Event tech can transform the way you meet the needs of your exhibitors, giving them more of what they want and need to be successful with little added effort on your part. By providing them real-time data and planning capabilities, easy ordering and sponsorship opportunities, you’ll both get more of what you’re looking for.
We’ve shared our favorites when it comes to event tech for exhibitors. Now it’s your turn. What are we missing?