Organising a trade show is an exciting adventure, but it can also be difficult if you lack the required event planning skills. Without good planning, adequate resources and proactive management, your professional event can become an operational and marketing nightmare for you, your partners and participants alike.
For the companies taking part in your trade show, this event is a real opportunity to communicate, exhibit and sell their products and — most of all — their brand, to create new partnerships, and to get in touch with potential or existing customers. Both companies and participants alike expect a lot from you in terms of planning and management at this type of event.
Here are our 7 pieces of advice to organise a successful trade show and make it a total success!
1. Plan well in advance
You should refrain from jumping immediately into organising the trade show, as this may lead you to forget critical details that will be key to the smooth running of your professional event. Planning and developing an action plan well in advance will significantly increase your chances of success. What we mean is, before you put the organisation of the show itself in motion, you should give yourself enough time to:
- Set the objectives of the trade show
- Assess the potential of your event
- Set a budget — even an approximate one
- Write your specifications
- Develop a marketing plan
- Identify potential venues for the event
- Make an estimate of your needs in terms of equipment, staff, etc.
2. Find a venue that is convenient for both you and the participants
The choice of location for a trade show is of paramount importance. You should consider not just your own needs but most importantly those of the show’s participants. Suitability of the location matters a lot: will the chosen city or town attract the greatest number of participants? Is it easily accessible for the kind of participants you think will attend? At this stage, you should take into account the attractiveness and accessibility of the city or town of your choice (think of the presence of suitable transport options, especially if participants may be coming from far away) but also weather conditions.
Similarly, the convenience of access to the venue itself is very important: are there several entrances, parking spaces, wheelchair access, emergency exits, enough space to circulate safely, enough space for all the booths? The number of expected participants is also important and should guide you in your search for the perfect venue: is your trade show small, medium or large? Venues such as meeting rooms, cultural centres and hotel conference rooms are generally suitable for small and medium-sized trade shows — for larger trade shows, it is usually necessary to opt for bigger venues such as conference halls or exhibition centres.
3. Choosing a date that will not clash with other important events
Just like choosing the venue, choosing the date of the trade show is not a trivial matter. You must absolutely avoid organising your trade show at the same time as any other important events for your categories of participants (including companies, sponsors, attendees). These important events could be parties as well as other shows. However, it is sometimes interesting to organise your trade show on the same date/period as these other important events if — and only if — you can and want to use the traffic generated by these other events!
4. Finding sponsors/partners
Sponsors are essential to the promotion and success of professional events like trade shows. It is therefore important to find either several partners or one main sponsor. They should have extensive experience in your target industry and be considered true experts by the show’s participants. For each party to benefit from this partnership, consider establishing a commercial-type contract, where your partner will give you marketing advice, access to customer databases, display spaces, etc. in return for high visibility and free services before, during and after the show.
5. Make the right choice in terms of rolling-out your marketing plan
We are talking here about promoting your trade show, part of which is already taken care of through your sponsors. Apart from sponsorship, when it comes to traditional promotion for this type of professional event, you need to make the right marketing and organisational choices. The key choices to be made at this stage relate to the sale of tickets and booths to participants and audience members. In order to do this, we advise you to use various tools and channels such as cold calls, email ads, posters and social media — always ensuring you are directing your message to your target audience for the trade show.
Opt for an online ticketing/registration solution
For your ticket sales, you should opt for a registration platform or an online ticketing solution, such as Weezevent’s, to make managing the event easier. Our ticketing solution can be directly integrated to your trade show’s website, provides you with a mini-sales site if applicable, and also allows you to directly send reminders to participants as well as send out your invitations and passes.
Opt for an access control and payment dematerialisation solution
Similarly, to ensure that your transactions are secure and to avoid fraud, you should opt for a solution to control access of participants at the door on the day of the trade show, or even a system of payment dematerialisation. This last solution allows you, for instance, to control and manage all transactions related to your merchandising booths, food-trucks, and bars.
Plan to have marketing materials on location
In addition, it is important to create marketing materials such as banners, directional signs or flyers to boost promotion of your event. Do not hesitate to outsource this task if you do not want to recruit staff for this.
6. Plan entertainment, food and drinks
Entertainment, food and drinks are important and are an integral part of any good trade show. Entertainment will enhance the enthusiasm level of visitors and companies attending the show. As for food and drinks, your participants will need to regain energy and quench their thirst. You could also provide takeaways food for booth staff who are often unable to leave their post during the event.
7. Follow-up after the trade show
When organising professional events, it is critical for you to carry out a comprehensive follow-up of your participants and partners after the show. This helps maintain a positive relationship and build trust with these stakeholders, which is very important for the next events you may organise. Do not hesitate to ask these participants for feedback on the organisation and their experience in order to improve your future editions.
Anyways, throughout the organisation process, you should pay attention to details, make a plan B for everything, and always make sure that your choices will provide a unique experience for participants and help them achieve their goals for attending your trade shows.
Ready to organise your own trade show? Start now with Weezevent: