Tag Archives: Exhibitions

Tips of Exhibitors – How to Budget for an Exhibition

Event_Budget-1Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the trade show Marketing Plan, you now need to produce a working budget. The budget needs to be flexible and, as a guide, the trade show cost is normally three times the cost of the exhibition space.
Setting the budget is important to ensure you have funds that are sufficient to fulfil the exhibition’s objectives and to make sure that the exhibition is delivered to the right standard. The details of how to set a budget are discussed below.

Budget Checklist and Budget Control

  • Compile a checklist of:
    – Fixed costs which are normally around 60% of the total budget.
    – Variable costs (for example, supplier costs). This is normally around 25% of the budget.
    – Calculate a reasonable contingency of around 15% of other budget costs.
    – Review your costs regularly. It is most important to establish budgetary control of costs at the beginning of the project planning. This will enable you to know where you are with the on-going costs during the build up to the exhibition. You may find you are able to add enhancements to the stand or you may need to cut back on planned expenditure.

Fixed Costs

These costs need to be covered regardless of the number of attendees or size of an exhibition. Dependent on the type of exhibition stand they normally include exhibition floor reservation and associated payments to the exhibition organiser, the stand build, and furniture which probably makes the largest proportion of the costs.

  • Fixed Production Costs – these include:
  • Exhibiting charges due to the organiser for floor space only or a shell scheme, online marketing entry, exhibition brochure promotion, logo, sponsorship, badges, and storage space.
  • Stand build – the design of exhibition stand and associated costs, the set build or refurbishment of a pre-existing stand, flooring carpets, backdrop, furnishings, graphics, banners, and lighting hire and installation.
  • Supplier costs for furnishings, hire of equipment, such as PC or demonstration equipment, products, lead collection, scanner hire, hostess, photography, security etc.
  • Audio Visual – such as screen, projection, video, camera recording, and laser projection.
  • Sound if using for presentation on the stand to include – speakers, microphones of all types, CD player, mixer, cabling, adaptors, music etc.
  • Speaker support – design, image production, animated images, script writing, and training rehearsals.
  • Crew – you may need to allow for the costs of people for design and equipment hire, installation, freight transportation, rigging and de-rigging and all the technicians for any equipment used in the exhibition (as listed above). You may need to allow for per diem allowances for the exhibition crew too.

Fees and Insurance – this includes event management fees if an agency is being used to help with exhibition management or logistics. You may also need to pay for equipment insurance, or event insurance to cover public liability etc.

Invitation process – although the exhibition organisers will be inviting the general public you may still wish to invite your specific clients or potential clients separately. This will be a once only cost and is not dependent on the number of delegates attending. This can include:

  • Invitation design costs.
  • Print costs for direct mail.
  • Brochure.
  • Website setup.
  • Database list of invitees.
  • Telemarketing follow up.
  • Any advertising, posters and promotional costs.
  • Follow up activity to boost attendee response.

Hospitality costs – This can include both on-site hospitality on the stand, such as food and drinks, and off-site hospitality such as a dinner or a party for your clients and prospects during the exhibition.

Meeting room hire –  if required during the exhibition for private meetings with clients. Normally you will have to pay a deposit on the room hire when booking for the event with a sliding scale of payment to be made as you approach the event. Note that some conference centres do not always include the same services as hotels and these can sometimes be an additional charge to the room hire.

Set up Services – this can include supply of electrical facilities, power, waste disposal, cleaning of the stand, Wi-Fi Access and telephone. Always check exactly what services are included and for what period they are offered.

Variable Costs

These are usually the smaller proportion of your budget and will be dependent on the number of staff and attendees that you expect to attend. It is impossible to be absolutely accurate on your variable costs as exhibitions are dynamic events and constantly change. This is why it is important to create a workable budget in the early stages of your planning. Past historical documentation can be valuable when looking at numbers and previous costs. The variable items need to be checked carefully if the budget is to be kept under control.

Variable costs include:

  • Staff food & drink.
  • Refreshment breaks.
  • Accommodation of staff.
  • Travel costs for staff.
  • Training of staff.
  • Stand promotional give-aways.
  • Graphics and print materials.
  • Press packs and promotion.
  • Flowers.
  • Insurance.
  • Client entertainment and dinners.

Contingency Budget

Always build in at least an extra 15 % of variable and non-variable budget costs as a contingency budget for the unexpected, such as additional drinks, crew overtime, additional catering, and unforeseen hire costs etc. You also need to put in here any currency conversion fluctuation that you may need to cover.

Reference: Planning Successful Exhibition Budgets – http://www.tradeshowinstitute.com/downloads/Trade%20Show%20Budgeting.pdf

Guest Blog: How to pick the perfect giveaway for your event

Swags gotta have swags!

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If you’re anything like me, and by that I mean cheap and love freebies, you would relate marketing events and fairs to a shopping trip for practical stuff you’ll need for the coming year or so. When I’m at such events, I’m usually also on the lookout for freebies I can get concrete use out of. Swags such as pens, notepads and T-shirts are very common at events and for good reason – they’re things everyone needs on a daily basis. In other words, they’re practical. But practical as they are, you don’t always have to go for the same old pens and T-shirts. If you prefer to stand out, you could opt for more creative giveaway ideas.

The basic aim of a swag is to lure event-goers to your stand. That’s the very first step to getting people interested in what you’re offering. Hook them in with a good freebie and proceed from there. From the point of view as a freebie-consumer, you could have the most mundane and mainstream product/service and your stall could be the dullest one in the entire event hall. But if you’ve got an attractive-enough giveaway, I’m making a bee-line for you.

The last event I’d gone to was a work fair some two months ago and while I was looking forward to seeing what job offers there were out there, I was personally more excited about the freebies. They definitely fulfilled their aim of luring me to the different job stalls as I managed to score a number of interviews. But I was perhaps a little over-excited about the freebies which may have compromised my composure during the interviews!

When it comes to choosing the perfect giveaway, you could always go safe or go for something less conventional. With so many options for you to choose from, it can be rather overwhelming. Here’s one easy tip to follow – swags needs to have swag. Given that I’ve never had a green thumb nor been a fan of flowers, a great example of what your giveaway (from my point of view) shouldn’t be like is a pot of flower. The best swag should satisfy the basic criteria of being practical, light, small and easy to print on and cost-effective. A pot of flower is simply the exact opposite of these.

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What the perfect giveaway should be

Practical

A pot of flower sits in the corner of the room and serves no purpose besides taking up space. Plus, I’d have to water it every day – what a chore!

This is key. Items such as T-shirts, pens and thumb drives (they could only be 512mb and I’d still take them in a heartbeat) fair well as popular giveaways for this very reason. They’re items people can use over and over again. I’ve been using pens I got from such fairs for as long as I can remember and in fact don’t even remember the last time I actually bought one.

Light & small

Imagine lugging a pot of flowers all around the fair and on the bus/train home. Sure, it could make for a good conversation starter but I’d very much just prefer a photo of it, thanks.

Nobody, not even freebie-loving me goes to an event with a huge bag with which I can fill freebies. That’s just a tad bit too excessive. That being said, a giveaway needs to be small and light enough in order for it to be practical enough to be taken away.

Easy to print on

Hey let’s print our logo on this petal and have it wilt and fall! No.

If you haven’t already figured this out, your primary purpose of having a stall at a marketing event is to – duh – market your brand! The whole purpose of giveaways is to *drumroll* give away an item by which event-goers will remember you. And if your brand or logo isn’t indicated on the giveaway, chances are that nobody’s going to remember where they got the swag from.

Cost-effective

Forget the pots, flowers are expensive enough – ask anyone with a girlfriend.

You’re guaranteed to be the most popular stall in the event hall if you’re giving away a trip for two to Las Vegas as a promotional item. But unless you’re also harvesting bills or Bill Gates from your pots of flower, that’s obviously unfeasible. Since you’re going to be giving away these items for free, you have to consider the trade-offs. It’s important to not go overboard. Set a strict budget and stick to it.

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Another great example of a good giveaway is food. It’s practical in the sense that it satisfies hunger, is a light snack and small enough to fit in your stomach. That’s unless, of course, what you’re giving away is free steak in which case does not satisfy criteria #4. I remember being so hungry at the job fair that I was absolutely famished by the time I got to the PepsiCo booth. I needed to satiate my hunger and drown out the dreadful melodies being churned out by my stomach juices. That resulted in my shameless munching on Doritos as I was speaking to the PepsiCo representatives – probably why I didn’t get the job. But hey at least I got a free bottle of Mountain Dew after – score! Kinda.

Other items I picked up from the fair include this four-coloured-inked pen and heart-shaped notepad. They do satisfy the criteria of a good giveaway but given that I already have loads of pens and notepads lying around at home from previous fairs, I haven’t had much use for them just yet.

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Hands down my favourite giveaway from the job fair is this tote bag from Estrella Damm’s stall. Given that many supermarkets are now charging consumers for plastic bags, this is an extremely handy item. You’re saving money as well as the Earth! Plus, it can be used to carry all the other freebies from the other stalls, unless someone inadvertently picked up a pot of flower. It’s also simple and versatile enough design that I’d carry it on a regular day out as well. In fact I loved it so much I took a second one when everyone had their backs turned – or so I thought. Suffice to say, I didn’t get this job either!

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In a nutshell (just FYI nutshells don’t make for good giveaways), the main purpose of a freebie is to market your product/service. You want your presence to be felt everywhere. Think of a marketing event as a point where you disseminate information regarding your brand. You’re there to promote yourself and besides networking and chatting with event-goers, another way to do that is through these freebies.

Have you ever seen anyone give away a pot of flower as a freebie? Have you ever shamelessly stuffed your face with food giveaways? What’s the favourite giveaway of yours that you’ve taken? What are some of the most unique freebies you’ve seen around? Do share some of your freebie stories with us!

AUTHOR BIO
Lin’s an all-rounder in terms of physical shape. Her weekly schedule revolves around Printsome, football and abhors cutting her nails.

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Tips for Exhibitors on how to compile a Time Line and Check List whilst planning a Tradeshow or Exhibition

 

Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the Trade Show Marketing Plan, you now need to review the project plan.

It is essential to know the deadline dates for completing key activities. Most importantly you need to ensure that you do not miss the deadlines of the show organisers.

It is vital to highlight all your own organisation logistics on your check list including what needs to be planned, purchased and organised before the exhibition starts. This time line and check list document is an aide memoire that should keep you focused on target and on track to accomplish your goals and objectives.

What is a Trade Show Time Line?

When creating an event time line for a conference or for a trade show and exhibition, start with the event date as the end-goal and work out all the timings backwards from that date. Everything has to be accomplished before the start of the exhibition.

For a trade show you should always check on the exhibition organisers’ website for the deadline dates for ordering services. Fill these dates into your time plan allowing for pre-planning logistics so that you can accomplish the actions by the deadline. Also note any restrictions or conditions of the contract. The more time you have to prepare before an exhibition the better the project should run and the less stress it will cause you.

An example of a timeline

Exhibition name, Place date Location Stand Hall stand #
Build date:
Breakdown times and dates:
Date Action Responsible Comments Completed
Week Ending DD/MM/YY [Start with the nearest to current date] Describe the action Initials of person or persons to accomplish this action Describe what needs to be done, how the action is progressing, any other useful comments usually with a date you have actioned items Date finished
Tends to be a week-ending date rather than an actual date unless its the tradeshow deadline date First add time critical deadlines from the exhibition organisers and then fill in with other check list items according to when they need to be accomplished by
Week Ending DD/MM/YY Show build time
Show date Dates of the exhibition
Week Ending DD/MM/YY Follow up items

What is a Check List?

A check list provides a step by step guide so that you can clearly see organisation and execution of the logistics for the exhibition. This should be incorporated into the time line so that the items covered are actioned with the person responsible within the deadlines required. Items to consider for incorporation into your time line include:

  • Corporate objectives as discussed in the blog titled Tips on How to Plan for an Exhibition , for example the theme of the show, strategy etc.
  • Budget creation (the budget and financial actions will be covered in the next  blog. It is important to note in your time line when the payments are due so you can schedule any deposits for the show or pay for required services.
  • Many trade shows have a conference running in parallel and this can be a good opportunity to promote you company by applying for a speaker slot. Note that the selection for the speakers is normally way in advance of the event so you need to keep an eye on the final date of speaker slot submission

The Logistics:

  • Exhibition space & stand build, or shell scheme, branding, graphics and displays will be covered in tip sheet
  • Ascertaining who is attending from the company, communicating with them the show plan, pre-show meeting and training and any rehearsals required, organising a stand rota for staff
  • Hotel and travel booking
  • Ordering services from the show organisers or your own suppliers such as:
  • Catalogue entry, power supply, Wi-Fi, cleaning, catering, furnishing, equipment, technical equipment, software, badge names, scanner for marketing leads, collateral for show, give-aways
  • Marketing of event – this is very important so that attendees know you are exhibiting and visit your stand. Do not leave this just to the show organisers’ marketing of their exhibition. You need to promote your company to your own contacts or potential clients and prospects. This could include: PR, press packs, advertising, website, on-line promotion, social media, twitter, database use, direct mail, invitations, fliers, promotion at show, sponsorship, email marketing, newsletter, collection of leads, telemarketing, competitions, internal documents and communications
  • Planning of on-stand presentations and demonstrations, organising meetings with prospects or clients beforehand, booking meeting rooms, hosting dinners and corporate hospitality
  • Shipping of exhibition stand, collateral etc. Be sure to check the destination customs and excise as to when road lorries are allowed to travel as certain countries do not allow goods vehicles to travel on a Sunday
  • Organising security and insurance, planning for health and safety considerations

Remember that the time line and check list document is not written in stone. It should be a working document and amended as required.

It is very important to check and re-check the items and progress throughout the pre-planning period, and not just before going on-site, to make sure everything is ready. Sometimes there can be misunderstanding so it is better to be sure all is in order. The main thing to remember everyone wants the show to be a success and the more pre-planning and checking you do beforehand the better prepared you are for the unexpected.

Tips on how your marketing plan can help you succeed in exhibiting

To be successful exhibiting at a trade show one of the most important actions after deciding to exhibit is to prepare a Trade Show Marketing Plan. You need to know what you want to accomplish and how to achieve it. A marketing plan helps you establish the strategy and decide what actions are required for you to exhibit and how to communicate this to others. It helps you to target decisions and it keeps you on track.

What is a Trade Show Marketing Plan?

A Trade Show Marketing Plan is the end result of a process. It gives you a format to follow and allow you to be consistent. The Plan should include:

  • An analysis of the market environment
  • The development of the exhibition plan
  • Writing an executive summary

 Market Analysis

Marketing analysis forms the basis for creating the goals, strategies and tactics used to develop the plan. This consists of your understanding of:

  • The market environment
  • The customers
  • The competition
  • The company

Information for a market analysis can be found on the internet, in trade journals and company reports, through direct customer research, by speaking to internal managers and sales people within your company, and by compiling a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis report.

 Market Environment

  • Look at the market as a whole and seek to understand the dynamics that can impact the company and its products
  • Examine the company’s market share and get a statistical evaluation of the market

 Understand your Customers

You need to understand why customers buy your products or services so that you can create an environment that encourages the behaviour outcome you would like from the exhibition.

This can include:

  • Demographics – the statistical characteristics of your customers
  • Psychographics – understanding the lifestyle and personalities of your customers
  • Buying patterns and preferences
  • Environmental influences

 Competitive Analysis

Consideration should be given to your own company as well as its competition. Use a SWOT analysis, speak to the sales personnel of your company and use post-show evaluations.

In the competitive analysis include all the questions you need to have answered regarding the exhibition such as:

  • Current exhibition strategy and trend
  • Size of space occupied
  • Style and theme of exhibit
  • Graphic message
  • Staffing levels
  • Lead capture and follow up
  • Pre & post show promotions

You also need to examine competitive positions outside the trade show environment.

After collecting and understanding the market analysis you then need to set the strategy and decide how you will accomplish your goals.

The Trade Show Marketing Plan should include

  • Market analysis – include the key findings from your study
  • Marketing objectives for the trade show. You can link the trade show programme to wider corporate marketing objectives. These need to be measurable and can include:
    • Who will be attending
    • What is the purpose of the exhibition
    • When are the dates of the exhibition
    • Where is the location of the exhibition
    • Why – define the objectives and purpose for attending
  • Marketing strategies – how you are going to accomplish your goals
  • Action plans – what are the tactics you will undertake to carry out your strategies
  • Resources and timings – what do you need to carry out the plan in the timescale
  • Executive summary – summarise the above elements as a distillation of your plan so that you can communicate it to senior management

Once you have written the Trade Show Marketing Plan, check that it is in line with your other marketing mix plans. Ensure you refer back to the Plan to make sure that you are fulfilling your strategy, objectives and actions. The Plan can be used at the end of the exhibition to review your return on investment.

Reference: Jim Burch, How to Write a Trade Show Marketing Plan You Can Actually Use

Tips on How to Plan for an Exhibition

Pre-Plan All the Elements to Exhibiting for a Successful Outcome

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Many of the following bullet points will be covered in more detail in future Exhibition Tip blogs:

  • Set strategy, objectives and goals. You need to know why you are exhibiting and what you want to achieve that is measurable. Participation in trade show should always be reviewed against measurable objectives. This allows return on investment (ROI)to be analysed in order to understand the degree of success of attending that tradeshow
  • Confirm buy-in from other company departments. Discuss with departments their participation and the need for their support resource and staff, both in the pre- planning and on-site stages, for the exhibition to be successful
  • Clarify budget available for the exhibition. You need to know what your budget is before embarking on the stand build, marketing and all the other items that will need to be included in in your plan
  • Start the planning process in plenty of time. The longer you have, the better prepared you will be. Create a timeline document with schedules of what needs to be done when, showing deadlines both from the show organisers and your own. This is a vital document to keep everything on time for payments, tradeshow catalogue entry and planning logistics. The date of the show cannot be put back like a product release: it is happening on the date publicized and everything needs to be ready
  • Keep an updated check list to run in conjunction with the timeline
  • Decide on the promotion and marketing of the exhibition both on-line and with traditional media, using invitations, sales initiatives, website, social media, advertising, signage, PR, and sponsorship. At the start of the planning process for exhibiting the theme of the company exhibition needs to be decided. All marketing and promotional material and communications about the exhibition should be of the same look and feel so that there is consistency in the show’s marketing and the branding of products
  • Select stand location: consult floor plans, traffic patterns and audience make up
  • Consider the design of the exhibition stand. Have you booked a shell scheme or space only? Are you using a previous stand or designing a new one? This needs to be incorporated into the timeline. You may need to allow additional time for briefing design companies to quote and present concepts for a new or bespoke stand
  • Plan the logistics. You may need to consider:
    • Reserved hotel accommodation for staff
    • Selecting and briefing speakers if a speaking slot is confirmed at the show
    • Shipping of goods to show, as well as transportation of staff
    • Selecting suppliers for food and beverage, hospitality, stand furniture
    • Ordering literature and give-aways for use on the stand
    • Reviewing technology to be used on the stand
    • Ordering utility services required for the stand
    • Creation of signage and graphics for stand
    • Products to be displayed
    • The process of lead collection and follow up
    • Press Packs
    • Creating an exhibition handbook for staff attending
  • Review internal communication and staff training. Having the right staff who are properly briefed and trained for the show is vital to make sure all the pre planning is a success and they know their roles on-site

Tips on How to Run a Successful Exhibition: Finding the right exhibition for your company to exhibit at

Before signing up to attend an exhibition which is a large undertaking both in commitment to time, people and money you need to undertake market analysis and understand your company’s market, its market strategy and its objectives.

Market Analysis of Your Company Market and Objectives

Before researching which exhibition to attend you first need to understand your own company’s specific marketing objectives and strategy. This includes:

  • Market environment, and market share trends
  • Your customers
  • Your competition using SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis
  • Your company strategy and marketing objectives

Research

It is essential that you undertake research about the exhibition before deciding to book a stand space. Unfortunately many companies fail to do this, resulting in very poor outcomes, being out of pocket and putting off exhibiting at further exhibitions in the future.

The simple way of researching whether to attend a trade show is to ask the exhibition organisers for last year’s exhibitors lists and visitor attendance records including demographics of attendees numbers, job roles etc.

Speak to previous exhibitors to find out their experiences and return on investment. It is amazing the information that can be gleaned in this way. For example comments might include, “The show was good but we were in the wrong hall, Hall 2 had most people because that was where the restaurant was”. Or “Yes there were lots of exhibition visitors but unfortunately they were not the decision makers.” The exhibition industry, like most others, has a series of professional publications that list the major events around the world.

The credentials of any show can be established by checking how long it has been going and its relevance to the products or services on offer. Also consider the exhibition’s ability to attract the market leaders to exhibit, and the decision makers to visit and the level of advertising and promotion for the event.

Exhibition Publications

Before you book trade show stands it is imperative that you undertake some research to identify the right trade show so that you get a good return on your investment. There are many ways in which you can research a show’s success before you book or design any trade show stands.

Publications like ‘Exhibition Bulletin’ will list shows by venue, industry type and time of year. Exhibition Bulletin runs regular features such as Audit Watch. Here you will be able to see which trade shows are in decline and which shows are improving their attendance levels and exhibitor numbers. By speaking to the organisers you should be able to get hold of previous year’s exhibition catalogues to see which clients are rebooking their trade show stands and which ones are not. It is always a good idea to speak to these companies to find out why they have rebooked their trade show stand, who attends the show and how successful it was for them. Obviously you need to make sure that the types of visitors are right for your organisation and products or services.

Resources & Information Available

Online Resources to Source Trade Shows

·        AllConferences.com

·        BizTradeShows.com

·        Bvents.com

·        CantonFair.org.cn

·        Conferensum.com

·        EventsEye.com

·        EventsinAmerica.com

·        Exhibitions.co.uk

·        ExpoCentral.com

·        ExpoDatabase.com

·        ExpoPromoter.com

·        ExpoFairs.com

·        GlobalSources.com

·        TheTradeshowCalendar.com

·        TheWholesaleForums.co.uk

·        Tradeshow.alibaba.com

·        TSSN.com

See more at Trade-Show-Advisor.com

ExpoPromoter.com

ExpoFairs.com

GlobalSources.com

MyTradeFairs.com

TheTradeshowCalendar.com

TheWholesaleForums.co.uk

Tradeshow.alibaba.com

TradeShowPlaza.com

TradeShowWeek.com

TSNN.com

Create Your Own Database of Exhibitions

Create your own company database of exhibitions with pertinent information, so that it is easy to review which are suitable to attend such as:

  • Year quarter
  • Start and finish date
  • Name of event
  • Theme of trade show
  • City & country
  • Venue
  • Website
  • Organiser contact
  • Target industries
  • Target audience
  • Budget cost to exhibit – space only, shell system
  • Number of attendees in previous year
  • Speaker opportunities
  • Final call for papers date
  • Is sponsorship available?

The above suggestions should assist in making your decision to which Trade Show to exhibit at easier.

Tips on How to be a Successful Exhibitor – Corporate Reasons for Exhibiting

There can be many business reasons why a company should consider participating in an exhibition as events are an important part of the marketing mix. Listed below are some marketing reasons for exhibiting that a company or organisation may use to promote themselves and their products.

Reasons for exhibiting can be:

  • A medium for passing on information, specifically for new products and services
  • To make announcements, to launch a new product or service, to understand customer needs
  • To create brand awareness of company product in an associated market tradeshow
  • Part of a conference where there are exhibitor stands to showcase products
  • Way to meet new customer prospects and gather sales leads
  • As sponsor of a tradeshow
  • Using a speaker slot with exhibition stand backup

Examples of the Benefits to Business Clients Who Attend an Exhibitor Stand at a Conference:

  • Brand awareness visiting the stand allows the attendee to build up a picture of the quality of the company products or services
  • Good for education and increasing knowledge of the products and newest ideas in their business environment
  • Excellent communication forum for the end user to meet sales people with in-depth knowledge of their products or services
  • Ability to fast-track communications to the highest level

Benefits from the Company’s Perspective

  • Opportunity to increase sales of products with users demonstrations
  • Ability to collect new sales leads from prospects
  • One of the marketing vehicles for increasing regular communications with both current, new and potential customer
  • A platform enabling the company to know the client better and understand their business needs for the portfolio of products and services that they are developing
  • Excellent PR opportunity to made customer feel important and build on loyalty and customer relationship by sponsoring a drinks reception or dinner
  • Good opportunity to get the third party vendors and resellers involved on the stand promoting the company’s products and making them more involved with the clients, as well as strengthening the business alliance
  • Event feedback should be measured against the objectives to establish the benchmark for the next event and to determine whether the event has been a good marketing vehicle in generating a return on investment and an increase in the sales funnel. Well-designed feedback can also show how to improve future exhibitions

Conference and Seminar Tip: Management of a Vendor Exhibition at a Conference

Exhibitor Management

  • Before the conference and exhibition venue selection, consideration should have been made on how many exhibitors are expected and what size of exhibition hall or meeting room is appropriate.
  • Adequate space needs to be available for coffee breaks or if lunch is taking place in the exhibition area in order to encourage attendees to visit the exhibitors.
  • A site plan of the exhibition space looking at access for build-up and layout of stands must be created and made available for exhibitors. The plan should show details of services such as electrics, communications, with appropriate consideration for health and safety.
  • When selecting a venue consider any requirements for areas and rooms for communications, the exhibition manager’s office, and storage.
  • Prepare a preliminary budget, and finalise it once you have completed a final site visit. Review all costings and income involved.
  • Design and implement a website for the conference to incorporate a section for exhibitors with relevant on-line documentation specific to them as well as the usual section for attendees.
  • If required select an exhibition stand builder & designer for designing the exhibition floor layout, bearing in mind the conference theme and corporate branding.
  • Organise security and cleaning for exhibition area.
  • Review the budget throughout to make sure it is not being exceeded (an adequate contingency amount should have been incorporated at the outset).
  • Arrange in plenty of time for the shipment of items for exhibition.
  • You will need ongoing meetings with the venue management to detail what is going on in the exhibition area and timings and requirements etc.
  • Before the conference date the exhibitors should have already been sent detailed information, or had access to the website of exhibiting at the conference. This should include:
    • Location – hall or exhibition room with layout of stands and tables as well as coffee stations, lunch and bar or café locations, and networking facilities designated as appropriate, making sure that there is adequate space for exhibitors.
    • Application forms for exhibitors with costs of the various exhibitors’ packages detailing what is included in each one e.g. stand shell, or space or table, furniture, electrics. Also put this information on the conference website and make it available as a PDF file to download.
    • Details concerning internet access, communications, branding for corporate and sponsors to incorporate signage and conference theme.
    • If using shell schemes, details of what is included and ordering instructions for additional or optional items.
    • A contact list of the exhibition management as well as a contact list of exhibitors.
    • Supplier list from the venue with order form and deadline dates for ordering.
    • Exhibitors should be sent a timeline detailing the deadlines for actions to be completed before the exhibition.
    • Exhibition information including the times and dates of assembly & dismantling of stands, opening times of the exhibition etc.
    • Technical logistics information – exhibitor manual, important information & instructions.
    •  Health and Safety information and instructions about what is or is not allowed on-site, any loading restrictions etc.
    • Marketing promotions including: sponsorship items – promotional branding opportunities – exhibition manual with company profile – products and downloadable PDF files.
    • Accommodation information and booking information for exhibitors and staff.

On-site Management

  • Arrive in plenty of time, before the set up by stand building staff or when the hotel is involved in setting tables, meet with the venue and check state of room for any damage, make note and agree with venue management.
  • The exhibition manager needs to be on site for set up of exhibition stands and also during dismantling as well when exhibition is live.
  • Work closely with stand building staff or venue management making sure layout is according to plan and if necessary amend any site plans.
  • Work closely with exhibition stand designer & service suppliers make sure all is set up before exhibitors arrive on site to do their own set up.
  • Check on electrics and communications; have suppliers on call for any unexpected issues.
  • Set up the communications office, exhibition staff office, and storage area if required.
  • Liaise with exhibitors regarding storage and arrival of any freight for them.
  • If required attend exhibitors briefing meeting.
  • Be on hand and available to assist with any exhibitors queries.
  • On the final day make sure no exhibitor tears down before close of the exhibition.
  • Assist exhibitors with tear down and taking goods for collection.
  • Check room or hall is in the same condition and clear when leaving the venue.
  • Good communication, and keeping everyone who needs to know informed of what is happening, is paramount.

Tips on How to Run a Successful Conference or Seminar – Part 2 How to Plan for a Conference

The last post reviewed the corporate reasons for having a conference. There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, not least are that events are an important part of the marketing mix. We will now outline the main check points to consider when planning a conference:

  • Clarify the business rational for a conference, to make sure that this is the correct event for your marketing promotion as outlined in part 1
  • Make sure that you start the planning of a conference in plenty of time to be able to plan and market your event. This can depend on the conference size and how easy it is to book a venue. You need to consider how much time your target audience will need in advance to put the date in their diary and to get them so sign up as delegate. The more time you have the better you can plan your marketing and promotion. Suggestion is at least 5 months in advance.
  • Setting objectives – this is vital not only to understand why you are holding the event but also they will provide direction for everything in the planning and promotional phases and you will be able to test the ROI at the end of the event. The success of an event will be judged on its achievement of the main objectives. Do not have too many objective, you need one overriding objective and maybe two or three others that support the main objective This may be something you cannot do on your own you may have to involve the initiators to clarify their objective and this may be done in conjunction with the marketing or sales department.
  • In the planning stage it is also good to be able to understand how you are going to measure or quantify your objectives. Specific questions on the feedback form can be used not only for measuring one specific conference but can also be used as a rolling measure of effectiveness which is updated after each event. This gathering of statistical information may be useful in planning the current conference and future events. Further information will be detailed in part 8.
  • Clarify type of conference – for internal employees or external delegates. If for external delegates you need to understand who your audience is? Are they dealers, partners, customers, potential customers, or the media? The target audience will be guided by the objective of your conference and having a clear target audience will make your promotion easier.
  • How many people should attend? Your numbers will be influenced by the budget as well as venue.
  • Will you be charging an attendance fee? This can make a huge difference to the level of your costs or profits from the conferences. Sometimes charging a fee can increase the delegate’s perception of the value of the conference. If you are not paying an attendance fee you may consider using a partners to sponsor certain parts of the conference e.g. speaker slots, reception, coffee breaks, maybe advertise their name on documentation such as invitation/programme or delegates pack.
  • The subject matter/content – theme, this will be guided by your main objectives and should focus on what it is that you want people to take away, to remember and act upon.
  • Duration of the conference – one day or over several days? How many sessions, which day of the week to hold the conference? Your business objectives and target audience will dictate this. Check that your conference does not clash with another event in your industry or nationally.
  • Location of the conference – will your audience be from the UK, Europe or worldwide? Whatever country you decide upon you should also consider easy access for the delegates to attend, near an airport or train station, city centre of a venue in a secluded location?
  • Type of venue suitable for the conference. Is it to be held in a conference centre, unusual venue, historical, academic venue or hotel the latter is important if accommodation is required? Details of finding the right venue, location and duration will be discussed in part 4.
  • Setting the budget and having funds that is sufficient to fulfil the objects and make sure that the event is to the right level of standard. Details of setting a budget will be discussed in part 3.
  • Marketing for the conference – how are you going to manage the creativity of the event? Will you, use an agency, or doing this internal? Creating the brand, theme, signage and graphics for all conference material including the programme and invitation. What is the invitation process, how is the conference going to be promoted? Will you use a production company for the presentation? All this will be out lined in part 5.
  • Event Management and logistics – decide on whether you are going to do all this yourself, or just certain parts of the project or outsource to an event management company. Event management logistics that needs to be considered include:
    • Putting together a Gantt chart showing time lines with action points, responsibility and critical dates
    • Invitation process to include delegate invitation and registration
    • Registration management – client lists
    • Travel arrangement
    • Accommodation
    • Liaison with venue to include:
      Room set up
      Audio Visual requirements
      Food and beverage
      Running order for breaks, luncheon, reception
      Booking accommodation if on site or hotel
    • Logistics of getting materials to the conference venue
    • Speaker management including co-ordination of speakers, presentation, hand outs
    • Production of delegate documentation including delegate packs and badges

All the above will be covered in part 6

  • On site management to include a conference desk, registration, delegate packs, on site liaison with venue, speaker and guest management, security, health and safety all this will be outlined in part 7.
Reference reading:

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference
Philip Calvert – Successful Seminar Selling

Tips on How to Run a Successful Conference or Seminar – Part 1 Corporate Reasons for Having a Conference

There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, and events are an important part of the marketing mix. Listed below are some marketing reasons for holding a conference or seminar that a company or organisation may use to promote.

Reasons for a conference could be:

  • A medium for passing on information, specifically for new products and services
  • Internal communication to employees regarding internal information, such as training, boosting morale, making announcements, launch a new culture
  • Used by associations to network and educate their members
  • Yearly or quarterly way to communicate with their sales force, partners or distributors
  • A forum for discussing world issues or topical subjects

An example of benefits for the business client to attend a software companies conference or seminar

  • Excellent communication forum for the end user, ability to meet senior managers from the corporation, to get advice, discuss business propositions, get answers straight from the software engineers, product developers
  • Ability to fast track communications to the highest level
  • Good for the client to feel that they are having an impact on the future direction of the company and its products in relation to their requirements
  • Excellent for networking and meeting other users and hearing their business experiences, share ideas, solutions to problems
  • Good for education and increasing knowledge of the products and business environment
  • The event enables the attendee to build up a picture of the quality of the company products or services

Benefits from the Company’s perspective

  • One of the marketing vehicles for increasing regular communications with both current, new and potential customer
  • A platform enabling the company to know the client better and understand their business needs for the portfolio of products and services that they are developing
  • Make the customer feel that they are being listened to and giving the company first hand research into the future product direction
  • Excellent PR opportunity to made customer feel important and build on loyalty and customer relationship by sponsoring a drinks reception and dinner
  • Good opportunity to get the TPV/Resellers involved promoting the company’s products and making them more involved with the clients, as well as strengthening the business alliance
  • Opportunity to increase sales of products with users through workshops demonstrations
  • Event feedback should be measured against the objectives to know the bench mark for the next event and to measure if it has been a good marketing vehicle for ROI, and how to improve on future events

Further posts on how to run a successful business event that has ROI will follow. Follow the blog or subscribe to the RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss any of them.The articles will be full of tips and ideas, to help you and your business in event management.

Reference reading:

John G Fisher – How to run a Successful Conference