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5 Tips for a Successful Tradeshow

By Stephanie Munoz, Certified Exhibit Manager (CEM)

Set the right show times: Don’t overdo it! For the California Association’s of Director’s of Activities (CADA) we have show hours only open when the attendees don’t have to be in sessions. This gets everyone into the exhibit hall at the same time, making the hall feel action packed and alive. Vendors don’t feel like they are just sitting around manning their booth, they are being productive in talking to people constantly and generating sales leads. When it’s time to go back into session, we close the hall, secure it and have hired security to ensure all the exhibitors’ booths are safe. The vendors are free to go work on other business projects, attend some sessions themselves, or relax a little. Overall this seems to give the exhibitors a better impression of the show and has continued to bring them back year after year.

Hold social events in the exhibit hall: While attendees love to go to the exhibit hall, sometimes getting them to come back after they have seen everything is a challenge. At CADA we try to keep the hall busy when it is open, so that the vendors have ample opportunity to gain a return on their investment. In order to achieve this we hold an evening reception in the hall with complimentary food and cash bars. We also place the food strategically throughout the hall and in the very back, so attendees need to walk through the hall to get to the food. We don’t want them to just walk in, eat, and leave. Also, by placing high-boy tables in the aisles it gives people somewhere to meet and chat while they eat, instead of only having a sitting area away from the vendors.

Hold raffles at the end of the show : The last day or last few hours of the tradeshow are usually the slowest. Often vendors have raffles and giveaways that they will raffle off during the event. In order to entice more people to stick out it out through the end, gather all the names of the winners and announce all the winners 1-2 hours prior to the end of the show. Raffle tips: winners must be present to win, and save the best for last, if someone is giving away a trip or something big, announce that one at the end. This will help give you one last push of traffic through the hall.

Create a booth traffic builder card . The booth traffic builder card is a great revenue generator and can help create more traffic for those exhibitors who participate. Sale spaces on the card to your vendors, those who purchase a space will have their company name and booth number printed on the card. Put a card in each attendee’s bag. Attendees must visit each booth on the card and get a stamp or signature from that vendor. They then can submit their completed card into a raffle. You can raffle off a free conference registration for next year’s show, free hotel stay, etc. or get a vendor to donate something.

Sell exhibit booths for next year’s show at the current show. At CADA we give priority booth selection to our sponsors so they can pick their booths in advance before it opens up to the general public. We start selling space at the current show for the following year. This has been a great way to secure booths far in advance; at our 2010 conference we booked 50% of our hall for 2011. Not only does this help with booth sales, but it also has intrigued companies to look into joining the sponsorship program just to have priority booth selection and get the best possible booth location.


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