Exhibitions and trade events provide the perfect opportunity for your business or organisation to demonstrate your product or service to many potential customers in an environment where people are interested and engaged. To get the most out of exhibiting and keep costs under control there are some important steps to take.
Before the Event
The first task is to decide which exhibition/s or event/s. Do some research and compile a list of possible options. You need to consider how well established the event is and how it will be promoted. Find out the previous year’s attendance and what sort of people they were, which press and media attend the event and if any trade bodies support the event. Get prices on stand spaces and what is included. Then you can shortlist and pick the event which best suits your business or organisation.
The next step is to appoint a project manager who has overall responsibility for progressing and co-ordinating activities. Set objectives, whether it is for a new product or service launch, raising you organisation profile, reaching a new market, doing market research or another reason.
Set a budget. This needs to include space hire, transport, stand construction and graphics, any hire, electrics and services, preparation of any collateral including video/digital, any special costs such as for a bar or serving refreshments, security, insurances, travel and accommodation. Don’t forget to cost any follow-up work. You can expect the total cost to be around four times the cost of the stand. Building in a contingency amount is also a good idea.
As early as possible book the space, decide what you need on the stand (displays, seating, storage, etc.) and get the stand design in progress. You will need to keep an eye on deadlines for booking things like stand electrics and hire which will usually be supplied by the exhibition organiser.
Some planning tips
Have a schedule/calendar so that you can set priorities at different times.
Book your space as early as possible to get the best position. A central location is best for plenty of footfall but a position near the entrance or exit can be very worthwhile.
Check through the exhibitors manual early on so you aware of restrictions, deadlines and possibilities.
Don’t forget to arrange things like vehicle passes for the exhibition venue, press packs for the media and identity badges for staff.
Stand Size and Layout
Generally there are two types of exhibition stand: A space only stand which is an open area for you to use as you wish (within regulations) and tends to be larger or shell scheme where you get a smaller basic space with walls, fascia and carpet which will still need to be dressed with graphics, displays and so on.
There are endless opportunities for display materials which have the advantage of being reusable.
A space only stand will almost certainly mean you need to get a specialist exhibition stand design and construction company involved.
Some do’s and don’ts
– Your organisation’s name and what you do is very clear
– The stand has plenty of lighting
– To keep it simple
– Stand staff get breaks every 2 hours or so and include time for them to go around the exhibition and be present at special forums and events – set up a staffing rota.
– Putting too many staff on the stand at once, it could intimidate visitors. - Leaving personal belongings or litter in full view. Plan for storage and somewhere to put waste.
At the exhibition
Choose the staff who will be on your stand carefully – they can make all the difference between success and failure. Ensure they have the right people skills, are engaged, alert and attentive to visitors.
Brief staff each day setting targets. Make sure they know their area of responsibility. If you are well organised things will run more smoothly and be more rewarding for all. Have debrief sessions too.
Every stand gets its share of time wasters. Competitors will usually give themselves away. Find out who you are talking to and their role. You need a strategy to deal with people who just want to talk about themselves or pick your brains with no interest in your product or service. Take anyone who is there to complain off the stand and deal with them in a neutral area. Be wary of anyone who comes onto your stand to sell to you.