Five Key Takeaways from Other B2B EventsAugust 13, 2019
At the 20th anniversary CVENT Connect conference in Las Vegas last month, I gained some insights into the exhibition business from the perspective of other B2B event organizers – meeting planners. For those unfamiliar with the event, it’s an annual giant user group conference and trade show with 3,500-plus people targeted at those who use the company’s technology products.
It’s similar to what I saw earlier this year at Personify’s annual Personifest in Savannah, GA, which also provides a combination of education alongside suggested (in-house) solutions to solve planner pain points, minus the trade show.
Before sharing my insights, let me first say kudos to both companies for producing excellent client events. Money was spent in the right way – on making the attendee experience and journey both educational and memorable. With that, here are some of my takeaways:
1. Trade Shows are a hassle. They are an important part of the marketing mix, but A LOT of work.
This is something everyone in one of the seminar rooms acknowledged. Our challenge as an industry in the age of “1-Click” is improving the trade show experience for both exhibitors and attendees.
How about offering affordable turnkey booth furnishings (including drayage) or marketing packages? How about dumping draconian “display guidelines” that no one else in the world uses? Eliminate client pain points.
2. Salespeople at trade shows need more direction.
One of the speakers mentioned that if a salesperson doesn’t have deep knowledge of their company’s products/offerings, they don’t belong there. I 100% agree! Sometimes a company is way better off sending a tech person instead of a salesperson to a show, depending on the industry of course.
As show organizers and suppliers, we must do a better job communicating and educating those working there about the exhibit floor sales process, long before showtime.
3. Our exhibitors need help tracking conversion rates from trade shows.
Let’s face it, with the variety of metrics available on all marketing technology and platforms, we have to do more to facilitate tracking sales conversions, so clients may accurately measure the long-term value in expos. As an aside, if you’re not already doing third-party audits on your shows, now is a good time to start. Remember that famous buzzword from years past: Transparency? It’s still relevant!
4. Everyone hates drayage and no one understands anything about it except that it is stupidly expensive.
There is no such thing as a free registration counter. Or lounge. Or whatever else show management fancies on site. Drayage rates vary depending on how many “free” things show management orders.
Ultimately, exhibitors are paying for all of these extras and, as a result, many of them are feeling taken advantage of, and rightly so. According to the 2018 UFI-Explori Exhibitor Global Insights Study, exhibitors give trade shows in the U.S. a -9 Net Promoter Score, and only 25% are in the positive range. With so many unhappy campers, we are an industry ripe for disruption. Trust me. Drayage is a huge pain point for our clients.
5. Are in-booth activations the new “booth babes”?
While interactive activities and giveaways are an effective way to attract attendees to an exhibitor’s booth, are they reeling in qualified prospects? It’s great to spin a wheel and receive a prize, or enter a raffle to win an iPad, vacation or gizmo. Are attendees meaningfully interacting with an exhibitor because they are interested in the company’s offerings, or because of the fun element?
As with “booth babes” of years past, we must teach our exhibitors to better use activations to reach and attract their desired audience. This is especially true for shows where most exhibitors are selling services, not equipment or products.
It’s always refreshing to venture out of our own tried-and-true exhibition world to see how others view our industry. If we’re serious about improving the trade show experience for all stakeholders, there’s a lot to be learned from our cousins in the B2B event space.
Credit: This blog originally appeared in Trade Show Executive, August 2019 issue