Planning a successful trade show (as part of a convention, expo, or as a stand-alone event) is a carefully coordinated effort that requires a substantial amount of time and effort. Indeed, the “how to organize a successful trade show” is utilizing the tips that can attract more vendors—and lead to continual requests for trade show booths year after year.
Start planning well in advance
The foundation for a successful trade show starts months before the start of the show. When initiating trade show planning, set a goal for the trade show and identify the target audience for marketing. The latter step is important for marketing, giving trade show organizers key insights as they prepare online and traditional marketing materials. Ask “What features would attract these businesses? How can we attract attendees that gives trade show vendors an excellent return-on-investment?”
Identifying a target audience can also be a valuable step toward identifying ideal trade show sponsors that can contribute to event success. When designing the trade show map, designate ideal locations and bigger trade show booths for these sponsors. Aesthetically, choose pipe and drape booths that create a uniform and professional impression; however, don’t be shy about creating professional signage that signifies trade show sponsors.
Market booth value
To attract trade show vendors, it’s your job as a trade show organizer to spell out the value of trade show attendance. If the trade show is an annual event, utilize past videos and photos to visually demonstrate the value of the event; visuals can be a powerful marketing tool. Create a calendar with promotional trade show offer deadlines. Schedule online and traditional marketing mailings strategically. The most effective marketing tactics depend on the target audience; for example, an e-mail marketing campaign may be the most successful method for reaching IT firms.
A trade show theme can be the impetus that captures trade show vendors’ attention and appeals to their creative side. The theme can also give direction to planning the trade show aesthetics; contact an event planning company to choose pipe and drapes that coordinate with the theme and occasion. If the trade show is part of a convention or expo, use the same theme and aesthetics so the trade show feels like a coordinated part of something bigger. When designing marketing materials, communicate the theme to trade show vendors so they can plan accordingly and use the theme as a way to stand out.
Roll out the red carpet for vendors
Satisfied trade show vendors equate to repeat booth customers. Make every effort to ensure that trade show vendors are achieving their goals and feeling satisfied with the experience. There are many ways trade show organizers can achieve this:
- Provide informational booths for vendors and attendees so everyone gets their questions answered in a prompt manner;
- Ensure that all trade show vendors’ needs are met throughout the trade show;
- If included, hire a quality caterer so trade show vendor employees are fueled and satisfied throughout the event;
- Execute an aggressive marketing campaign that attracts interested buyers;
- Drive trade show attendees to the trade show throughout the event, such as serving a meal or program near the trade show;
- Add strategic seating and tables (or seating areas) throughout the trade show to encourage conversations;
- Do a periodic check-in with vendors to ensure they are satisfied with their experience.
Survey the results
A continually successful trade show is a trade show is always evolving to meet the needs of vendors and attendees. When the trade show is complete, survey both parties to gauge their level of satisfaction and ask for feedback. Utilize traditional and electronic surveys to ensure that as many trade show vendors and attendees are reached. Compile and organize the results so they can be used when planning next year’s event.