In a recent webinar titled “The Exhibitor’s Wishlist: Planning for 2024’s Exhibitor Trends,” a panel of expert exhibitors shared their insights and expectations. The panel consisted of Randy Knight, Account Executive at aKeyless, Mark LaFleur, Communications Lead for Turf & Landscapes at Syngenta, Sarah Brush, Head of Event Sponsorship at Sage, and Adam Saad, Founder and CEO of Tech Stack Advising. They spoke with Rich Vallaster, Director of Marketing at Personify, and together, they shared some fascinating insights into what exhibitors are looking for in 2024 and beyond. 

One prevailing theme was that ROI is everything. Exhibitors want actionable conversations that lead to high-quality leads, not just badge scanning. They’re not interested in just any lead but rather valuable ones that translate into dollars. Therefore, quality conversations are essential, and organizers need to provide concrete demographics on the audience before the event. This will help exhibitors to talk to the right people, which is what they’re looking for. 

“For us, ROI is actionable contact, actionable conversation, “explains LaFleur. “We are looking for the number of actionable leads that are true leads, not fluffy. They are not just taking a badge scan to take a giveaway.” 

Saad agrees that true leads are essential. “I want to know how much we are closing from the result of our attendance at a trade show,” he says. “We tend not to collect many badge scans but collect the information from people with whom we have great conversations. People are qualified to purchase our services potentially.” 

Another critical trend is smart budgeting. Exhibitors are more thoughtful about their investments and want to know what they get for their money. Quality means everything, so event organizers must be honest about the numbers. Phone calls go a long way in building trust between exhibitors and organizers, and trade show organizers must offer creative sponsorship opportunities as well. 

“Just getting on the phone and keeping the conversation going all year long, and really nurturing that relationship, is so important,” Brush explains. “So, when it is time for them to sell us that prospectus, it goes a long way.” 

One crucial factor that exhibitors look for is impactful touches that go a long way. Make it easy for them and give them a high likelihood of value. Ensure that there are networking opportunities, and make it easy to exhibit. Give exhibitors step-by-step instructions, and everyone likes to be treated special. First-time exhibitor discounts also go a long way, and organizers must offer an Exhibitor Resource center, exhibitor education, and suggestions for activations. 

Knight says that networking opportunities for exhibitors and attendees is something that stands out to him when considering attending a show.  

“Networking opportunities are important; maybe have some event in a different area,” he says. Anytime we can network and socialize with the personas we are interested in helps us with building those connections.” 

In conclusion, the exhibitor’s wishlist for 2024 is clear – exhibitors want real value for their investment, whether in conversations that lead to quality leads or impactful touches that make their investment worthwhile. Exhibitors are thoughtful about their budgets and want to know what they get for their money. Organizers that can offer this value will attract more exhibitors and ensure that their event succeeds. So, to stay on top of the exhibitor’s wishlist, start thinking about these trends today! 

Watch the recording here.