How to Plan a Tradeshow

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Over the past year, as a unique and special event venue in Vancouver, we have noticed an increase in companies looking to host small tradeshows, featuring not only their products but also the goods and services of their suppliers and partners.  Smaller tradeshows offer attendees the opportunity to speak to potential suppliers in a more casual and uncluttered setting with less noise and distractions than a larger, traditional show.  In addition, Exhibitors gain access to stronger qualified potential clients as well as potentially lower participation costs.

When we initially speak to clients about their vision for their event, we thoroughly ask questions about every component of their program to ensure that we are the “right” venue for their event.   In asking these questions, we have found that the clients looking for a tradeshow venue are often “first timers” – they have attended numerous tradeshows but have never put one together.  As a result, we have found that they have required a lot of help and guidance in not only the planning of the tradeshow, but the execution.

If you are planning a tradeshow for the first time, here are some tips we have shared that may help you with your planning process.

 

1. Goal setting

Ask yourself the following questions so you can decide what the key success indicator will look like:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • Who do you want to come to your event?
  • What makes this event a success?
  • What are your goals (ie. New business, New leads, Number of attendees, Number of Exhibitors, etc)
  • What is your budget.

 

When goal setting, BE REALISTIC!  Start with smaller, achievable goals that will give you some success and make all Exhibitors and Attendees wanting more.

 

 

2. Create a project timeline

Often venue selection is seen as the next step but understanding how much time you need to complete key tasks is paramount.  By making a timeline identifying key decision/duties and their optimal completion dates, you will have better understanding of when the best dates are to hold your tradeshow.  Providing enough time to market and organize your event is crucial to meeting your goals.  Securing a venue without budgeting adequate amount of time for the event marketing and securing the right Exhibitors is a primary reason why clients postpone or cancel events.

 

3. Secure the right event venue

Once you have an idea of how your goals and targets (ie Number of Exhibitors and attendees, budget) you will have a better idea of what size and type of venue will work best.  If your goal is to have 10 Exhibitors, consult with the venue to determine the estimated amount of space you will need to house them.  They can tell you what works and what won’t.  It is advisable to comfortably “max” out any space you decide to book so the setting looks filled out, not empty.  Scarcity spurs demand so if you have a maximum number of spots, this can encourage Exhibitors to sign up fast before all spaces are claimed.

Other factors to consider other than the size of your event foot print is the convenience and proximity of the venue to major roads and highways, free, ample or convenient parking, the venue’s location and the facilities amenities such as accessibility for the disabled, In-house AV and other equipment, F&B or on-site activities.  Every event is different so make sure the venue has all the elements you require for the event that you envision.

 

4. Marketing

The number one concern of all event organizers is getting attendance.  You can have the best planned event ever but if no one shows up, all the effort you will be putting in will be for nothing.  Always develop your marketing plan so that execution can start at least one month prior to your date.  With tradeshows, you need to ensure you have enough quality Exhibitors present as well as attracting enough attendees so don’t be afraid to ask and to work with your Exhibitors or Partners to contribute to your Marketing distribution list.  Cross pollinating distribution lists can be a “win-win” tactic to increase your attendance numbers.

 

5. Managing your Exhibitors

Aside from the Marketing of the event, perhaps the most challenging component is managing your Exhibitors, especially if many of them are not locals.

Clear and thorough communicating with your Exhibitors is key.  It is very important that you and all your Exhibitors are well prepared weeks before your event so they have plenty of time to prepare or ship any required display or marketing collateral to the venue and be prepared the day of the event.

One tool we have created for Clients is the Exhibitor Information & Requirements List.  This handy spreadsheet tracks all Exhibitor Information including contact details, booth/size needs, power requirements and other special details specific to the Exhibitor.  This tool not only helps the organizer track important data, it can help the venue understand the final space and materials requirements for the layout set up.

When communicating with the Exhibitor, make sure you send information and check lists for them to follow.  Such information includes shipping and/or delivery instructions, list of items they will need to bring with them that will not be available on site (ie. Pens, power cords, pins, adhesives, linens, etc.)  Clear and constant communication with your partner reduces questions and confusion from your partners.

Once all Exhibitors have been finalized, it is recommended that the organizer determines placement of each Exhibitor; otherwise, Exhibitors with no direction may claim spots that are intended for other Exhibitors.  If possible, provide a floor layout with each Exhibitors spot marked so when they come on site, they know exactly where to go!

 

In our next blog, we will cover tips on event planning execution, whether it be a tradeshow or special event.  Are you planning YOUR first small tradeshow?  If you are looking for a centrally located unique venue in Vancouver or Burnaby, we can help!

Call us for your free site visit today.

 

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