Meeting Planners Roundtable Recap

Here’s the Scoop

If you couldn’t make AENC’s Meeting Planners’ Round Table, here’s what you missed.

AENC’s Roundtable was hosted by the Hyatt Place WestRaleigh on November 30. The beautiful venue provided breakfast and a great environment for meeting planners to discuss trade show strategies and tactics. Round tables are an excellent way for professionals to learn from each other in a relaxed setting. We would love to see you at our next event. Below are notes from the meeting on trade shows, enjoy!

Meeting Planners’ Round Table: 11/30/12

Topic: Trade Shows

  • Items for discussion
    • How to ensure that only exhibitors and qualified attendees are on the show floor
    • Getting attendees to go through the show
    • Door prizes, raffles, what else draws attendees?
    • Floor plans – vary from the traditional rows
    • Virtual or hybrid trade shows
    • Value to exhibitors and members
    • Deepen and retain relationships with vendors
    • Pricing
    • Table tops  vs. pipe and drape
    • Choosing booth locations
    • Attendance
    • Getting vendors to commit
  • Pricing
    • Charging for admission gives attendees a sense of value- if you pay, you feel it is something worth your time and money.
    • Strategies
      • Compare pricing to neighboring states’ trade shows
      • Break down the cost of the booth to determine a dollar amount for each attendee the vendor sees
      • Charge more for priority booths (key locations near: registration, food, corners, aisles, entrance)
      • Include admission to your seminar or lunch in the price for vendors
    • Exhibitor pricing – an informal survey of planners provided some sample prices for booths and the number of attendees at the shows.  It showed that the price of the booth does not neccesarily equate with number of attendees. The idea is to get “qualified” attendees at the show.
      • Less than $500 – 200 attendees
      • $500-$750 – 200-350 attendees
      • $750-$1000, 40-150 attendees
      • $1000-$1500, 800-1,000 attendees
      • $1500-$2000, 150-200 attendees
      • more than $2,000, 30-50 attendees
  • Set Up
    • Table tops vs. pipe & drape: most people prefer the pipe & drape, because it looks nicer and solidifies space allotment. Smaller vendors and some first-timers like table tops because it is less expensive.
    • Floor Plans:
      • Rows
      • Islands of 4
      • IAEE offers floor plan class

–         How to get attendees into the show

  • Show specials: require that vendors offer a special price at the show
  • General session: hold inside exhibit hall
  • Sell tickets/ assign tickets to vendors to give away
    • Vendors think it is organization’s responsibility to bring people; however making vendors sell tickets has not been successful
  • Prizes: vacation stays, golf clubs, set a minimum prize value, cash drawings, ask host hotel to donate room nights, complimentary meeting registration for next year, give a prize to the exhibitors too.
  • Games
    • Treasure hunt: exhibitors buy into game to be included
    • Bingo: stamps, card suits, ask vendors a question
  • Food: scatter all food service around the room or towards the back (welcome reception, breaks, bar)
    • Coffee vendor: offer a free booth if they would sponsor coffee service inside the show.

–         Suggestions to help exhibitors get attendees to stop at their booths:

  • First-time exhibitor buddy: mentor system
  • Give exhibitor attendee info to use before or after the show
  • Host webinar as an introduction for your exhibitors
  • Suggest they send invitations to their clients or prospective clients
  • Hold meet the expert sessions
    • Build mini stage at the back to hold 30 minute seminars or product demos for each vendor. Vendor is responsible for inviting people.
  • Allow vendors to host their own ‘meet & greet’ outside show hours
  • Feed people on the floor, provide seating for buffet on the floor
  • Hold a meeting following the show to get feedback from your exhibitors

Most associations hold some type of trade show / exhibit and they are generally a good financial resource.  Having quality vendors and qualified attendees assures a more successful event for everyone involved.

Blog written by Caroline Cobb, AENC Intern