Trade Show Planning and Exhibiting Best Practices – Part 1

By Stefanie Calello

Being an event planner for a company that takes part in a lot of trade shows throughout the year can be very daunting, especially when you’re just starting out. Pressure falls on you to successfully plan each and every show with little to no bumps in the road. Whether you’re tasked with managing a single event, or your company’s entire event schedule, below are some best practices to follow for before trade shows that will aid in a flawless planning process:

Pre-Conference Procedures

Know What You’re Spending
Creating a budget with the trade shows you plan to attend that year allows you to project costs and not be surprised when an event costs three times more than you would’ve liked to pay for it. The budget should include areas like flight, ground transportation, hotel costs, registration costs, sponsorship costs, meals and entertainment, etc. This process should shed insight on all aspects of the event, including attendee demographics and numbers, which will enable you to calculate a projected ROI to see if it’s worth it to pursue particular trade shows in the first place.

Make Travel Easy
We all know that travelling can be a stressful process for some people, so it is a great practice to begin your planning roughly three months before each conference. At this time, you should confirm which company representatives will be attending, and register them for the event. Once that is settled, flight and hotel reservations should be made about two months out in order to get standard or discounted rates. Otherwise, by waiting until the last minute, you could wind up paying hundreds of dollars more than you need to. A great tip  for helping your team with travel is to generate a list of flight options which lays out the airline, flight number, departure and arrival dates and times (compared with the event’s start and end dates/times), so they know exactly what flights will be best for them.

Prepare Your Branding Efforts
When exhibiting at a conference you want to ensure attendees feel compelled to stop by your booth space and learn more about your offering all while keeping a strong image in their mind throughout the duration of the conference and long after. It’s important to sit down and think about what your brand image should be at in-person events, and understand what steps you can take to accomplish that.

Aside from your booth display, the promotional items and sales tools you bring along will be the only takeaway people have from your brand, so it’s important to make sure they resonate with the audience. Determining how much of these you’ll bring to each event in the beginning of the year will make inventory management and ordering much easier, and will alleviate any last minute headaches caused by running to the printer or promotional item vendor for an emergency material pickup. Another great way to brand yourself at a show is having your representatives dressed alike. Branding dress shirts or polo’s with your embroidered logo is one way to have your team stand out and a way for potential clients to spot you on the exhibit floor. Think about how easy it is to spot the Geek Squad.

Evaluate the Audience
Attain an attendee list approximately a month before the event, and keep in mind that some of these attendees you may already conduct business with, so you’ll want to segment the list accordingly. This enables your business development team or account management team to reach out and set up networking appointments, while providing you with an opportunity to shoot out an email campaign to generate interest and drive traffic to your booth. .

Attendee Tradeshow Packet
You want an easy way for attendees to access information on the spot during the conference but you also want them to be as prepared as possible. Providing your team with a packet that includes items like a reminders sheet, flight, ground transportation, and hotel confirmations, conference agenda, floor plans, FAQs, etc. should give them everything they need. These packets should be compiled and provided to each attendee a week out from the conference. This will give them enough time to review the information and ask any questions about the event that may arise.

About Stefanie Calello:
Stefanie is a Marketing Specialist at SaaShr responsible for executing marketing programs, predominantly associated with tradeshows and conferences along with other Marketing and Public Relations initiatives.

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