Event organizers are a truly impressive bunch…and I’m not saying this just because they’re our clients. As someone who helps organize our annual conference PersoniFest, it’s astounding to see the degree of project management, tactical strategy and ability to multitask that is required to successfully execute this event.
If you’re an event organizer, you’re often a jack (or jill) of all trades. You spend countless hours working to deliver a compelling lineup of speakers and sessions, develop professional development opportunities to help attendees grow in their careers and make new connections, and recruit event exhibitors and sponsors that will appeal to attendees. But let’s face it—we couldn’t host a successful conference without the organizations that participate in our event including exhibitors, attendees, speakers, sponsors and more.
If you’re looking to build long-term relationships with the organizations that invest time and resources at your events (and I’m guessing that you do), it’s critical to recognize and appreciate their contribution and show the value that is associated with being part of your event. We’re sharing four ways that you can recognize event exhibitors in person, online and via mobile and social, and demonstrate value:
1. Create Dedicated Activities for Event Exhibitors
Your partners and vendors likely have many options to invest their limited resources (both their marketing dollars and their staff’s time). To make sure that you’re creating an experience where exhibitors and sponsors feel valued, create dedicated activities to help them connect with attendees and prove the value of your conference.
This can include an exhibitor happy hour and gamification of the expo floor where attendees compete to visit different exhibitors for prizes and raffle drawings. You could also host an exhibitor spotlight where companies promote their solutions and product offerings over the lunch hour. Another option is to host a get together aimed at new attendees and sponsors to help first timers make new friends and exchange ideas.
2. Drive Traffic for Event Exhibitors via Website, Social Channels and Community
When Personify exhibits at a conference, the reason that we do it is because we want access to the audiences that the organization serves and to be able to show attendees the unique value that we can provide to solve a challenge or meet a goal. Similarly, with your exhibitors, you can increase the ROI of the exhibitor experience by creating high visibility for their organization.
Make sure that your exhibitors and sponsors are featured prominently on your organization’s website with an interactive floor plan and a link to more information about the exhibiting organization. Create space in the editorial calendar for your social media plan and in your online community to highlight exhibitors that will be at your upcoming conference. And, make sure to backlink to the exhibitor’s website to drive up their SEO value.
Before, during and after PersoniFest, our social media team pushed out dedicated social and community posts for our sponsors and exhibitors to show our appreciation for taking part in our annual conference.
3. Celebrate Their Success with Your Constituents
In addition to providing a time and space in the agenda for folks to visit the expo hall, consider creating an awards program or an appreciation dinner to highlight constituents’ success stories. This not only allows your members, donors and volunteers to learn from their industry peers, but also provides an outlet for exhibitors and sponsors to showcase their solutions and partnership opportunities with your organization.
For example, we created the Persi Awards at PersoniFest to highlight client success stories from the previous year. When possible, we included mentions of Personify’s partners and exhibitors that worked with our clients to help them reach their goals.
One of the 2019 Persi Award winners is our client the Texas Hospital Association who undertook a massive effort to move their billing and collection processes in house. We shared, both onstage during the keynote and afterwards in the blog post recap, how our partner and Personify exhibitor Intellidata played a crucial part in their billing transformation.
4. Directly Connect Event Exhibitors with Attendees
It’s a common issue that I have experience when attending a conference. I’m looking for a technology tool that can help me do X, Y and Z but I’m not sure which exhibitors offer that type of solution and so I spend time wandering around the expo hall hoping to come across a vendor that meets my needs.
There’s a better way. Intelligent matchmaking enables an attendee to connect face-to-face with experts that have a solution for a specific pain point or challenge in their organization. As part of your pre-show strategy, attendees can share the types of solutions they’re looking for on the expo floor and exhibitors can respond before or during the conference about how their solutions can help.
While this list includes a few ways to improve your exhibitors’ experience, it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. If you’re looking to revamp your exhibitor marketplace at your annual conference or tradeshow, learn more about our solutions for event professionals.