7 pieces of advice to organise a trade show

7 pieces of advice to organise a trade show

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:

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