Lead Generation: Essential Tips & Tools for Exhibition Success

As an event organizer, your role extends well beyond the logistics of space setup and schedule management. You stand as the crucial link between exhibitors and attendees, tasked with generating qualified leads for exhibitors and meaningful networking opportunities for attendees.

However, the path to creating such an environment is laden with challenges, particularly when it comes to traditional methods of lead collection and qualification. 

Let's explore some of the biggest hurdles and introduce innovative solutions that promise better outcomes for exhibitors and sponsors.

Lead Generation vs. Lead Capture vs. Lead Retrieval

Before we dive in, let’s clear up the difference between lead generation, lead capture, and lead retrieval.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to distinct stages of the customer acquisition process, each with its own set of strategies and outcomes. Understanding the nuances between them is key to optimizing your approach and achieving better results. Let’s illustrate the difference between each with an example.


Swapcard Event Lead generation

Imagine you're at a big industry trade show event, like a tech expo, where your company has a booth with a snazzy display of your latest smartwatch.

Lead Generation: This is like setting up your booth in such an inviting way that people walking by can't help but stop and see what you've got. Maybe you're giving a demo, or you have a hands-on area where attendees can try out your smartwatch. The goal is to make them interested in your product and think, "I might want this."

Lead Retrieval: Now, let's say someone stops by, tries the smartwatch, and seems really interested. They tell you they'd love to know more about it. You then use a special scanner to scan the QR code on their attendee badge, which saves their contact info. This process is lead retrieval. You're using technology to collect the details of people who have shown a clear interest in your product, so you can contact them later.

Lead Capture: This broader term includes all the ways you gather potential customers' details. For example, besides scanning badges at the event, you might also have a website where people can sign up for more information about the smartwatch. Or you engage with people through social media, encouraging them to leave their email for updates. All these actions are forms of lead capture.

In short, lead generation is about creating interest in your brand or product, lead retrieval is about using technology to gather contact details from interested attendees at events, and lead capture is a broader term that involves collecting potential customers' information both online and offline.

Event Lead Generation: Challenges and Solutions

Let's take a look at the three main challenges exhibitors face when generating leads and how you can help them come out on top!

1. Limited Engagement Opportunities

On a bustling trade show floor packed with potential leads, competition is fierce, making it increasingly difficult for exhibitors to stand out. Yet, the real challenge is not getting attendees to stop at a booth but rather creating meaningful connections that they will remember.

Traditional methods of engagement—giveaways, live demos, and live Q&As—while still relevant, now require a creative twist to break through the noise. The limited time attendees spend at each trade show booth further complicates the issue, pressing exhibitors to make every second count.

Five ways to capture attendee interest at trade shows:

  1. Interactive Displays: Set up touchscreens or VR stations that invite attendees to interact with exhibitor products or services in a fun, engaging way.
  2. Social Media Integration: Encourage live social media engagement at booths with hashtag contests, selfie spots with branded backdrops, and live streaming of booth activities to broaden reach.
  3. Gamification: Incorporate games or contests with fun prizes, making certain booths must-visit spots.
  4. A Mobile App: Offer an event app that allows attendees to schedule one-on-one meetings, access exclusive content, or unlock special offers by visiting booths, enhancing personal engagement and providing value beyond the event.
  5. Virtual Booths: an online, interactive space where attendees can explore products, engage with content, and connect with exhibitors.
    (More on this last point later)! 

    capture attendee interest at trade shows

2. Inefficient Lead Capture 

The old-school approach often relies on the physical exchange of business cards or filling out forms, which can be time-consuming and inefficient - not to even mention the occasional loss of leads due to manual entry errors or misplaced information.

The solution lies in digitalization. By moving from manual to modern lead capture tools, exhibitors and sponsors can streamline the process of collecting leads. With features such as QR code scanning, digital business card exchange, and integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, these tools make the process of capturing attendee data a breeze.


3. Lead Qualification and Follow-up Complexities

Traditional methods of lead qualification typically provide limited data, such as basic contact information (like name and email address), demographics (such as job title and company), and engagement metrics (including booth visits and session attendance).

However, this information alone may not offer a comprehensive understanding of an attendee's interests, buying intent, or position in the buying cycle. Without deeper insights into these areas, tailoring follow-up communications can be hit or miss. This lack of detailed insight often results in generic follow-up strategies that fail to effectively engage leads, thereby reducing the chances of conversion.

To overcome these challenges, opt for a lead generation tool that offers exhibitors and sponsors a straightforward and efficient method for sorting and following up on leads. 

For advanced lead qualification, go beyond basic lead scoring capabilities by selecting a tool that allows you to make detailed notes that can be shared with your team and analyzed. Details around attendee buying intent and where they stand in the buying cycle can be particularly useful.

For effective follow-up, choose a lead generation tool that:

  • Automates the sorting and qualification process
  • Offers real-time analytics for immediate insights
  • Integrates seamlessly with your CRM for personalized communication strategies

Why You Need a Lead Capture Feature for Your Events

A lead capture feature is essential for organizers and exhibitors who are serious about lead generation and maximizing their return on investment from participating in trade shows and exhibitions. 

The best lead capture tool for your event will not only simplify the process of collecting leads but also provide multiple opportunities for exhibitors to stand out from the crowd and allow for efficient qualification and follow-up. 

Remember, the satisfaction of your exhibitors and sponsors (and the likelihood of them signing up for your event again) is strongly linked to how easy it was for them to generate high numbers of qualified leads.


Introducing Swapcard’s Lead Capture 

Designed specifically for trade shows and exhibitions, Swapcard’s Lead Capture feature offers advanced lead qualification, post-event follow-up, CRM Integration, and real-time analytics and reporting.


The Lead Capture allows exhibitors to: 

1. Attract Leads

Swapcard’s virtual booth— a digital space that mimics the physical booth found at trade shows, conferences, or expos— offers a flexible, cost-effective way for exhibitors and sponsors to generate leads.

It allows exhibitors to:

  • Showcase Products, Services, and Brand: Exhibitors can use the virtual booth to display their offerings and promote their brand. With multimedia capabilities, they can display product demos, promotional videos, and engaging content to captivate a broader audience.
  • Send Targeted Ads and Design Enhancements: Exhibitors can create eye-catching ads and designs for their online booth, boosting engagement and lead generation.
  • Engage Attendees in Their Preferred Language: Customizable fields on the virtual booth enable exhibitors to tailor their messaging and content to connect with attendees in their native language.

    Swapcard Event Virtual Booth for Exhibitors
2. Capture Leads 

Once you've attracted visitors to your booth or website, it’s crucial you effectively capture their information to nurture leads and drive conversions.

Here are three ways in which Swapcard’s Lead Capture streamlines this process:

  • Mobile App Access: Exhibitors can use Swapcard’s mobile app to add attendees to their contacts by scanning their badges and business cards or by connecting with them directly in the app. Both ways grant them instant access to vital lead details, allowing for immediate follow-up and personalized engagement.
  • Offline Capabilities: When exhibitors encounter roaming charges, Wi-Fi outages, or weak signals at events, traditional lead capture methods can fail, putting event ROI goals at risk. Swapcard's Lead Capture feature tackles these issues with offline capabilities, ensuring no missed opportunities, even with connectivity issues.
  • Full Data Control: Swapcard's Lead Capture also gives organizers full control over who can see and store personal information during badge scans, with features such as one-way lead retrieval.
3. Qualify Leads

Once a lead has been scanned, the next phase is qualification. By qualifying leads at the point of collection, exhibitors can prioritize their outreach efforts, focusing on those with the highest potential for conversion.

Swapcard’s Lead Capture allows for advanced real-time lead qualification with lead scoring, notes, and pre-prepared surveys. The optional survey is a great way for exhibitors and sponsors to gather pertinent information like lead type and region from attendees. Choose from single-choice, multiple-choice, or short-text response formats for efficient categorization of comprehensive data.

By providing your exhibitors and sponsors with an easy way to qualify their leads, you allow them to focus on meaningful conversations with attendees rather than on paperwork or data entry. 

Swapcard Event Leads Qualification

4. Generate Lead Reports

Data plays a crucial role in lead generation at trade show events as it provides the insights needed to inform decisions and strategies for future marketing and sales efforts. Additionally, data assists in measuring the success of the event and the effectiveness of the lead-generation strategies.

With a dedicated portal, the Exhibitor Center, exhibitors, and sponsors can independently manage product and service listings in their virtual booth and track their leads as well as their teams.

Swapcard Generate Lead Reports

Exhibitors and sponsors can choose to download reports on attendees that:

  • Connected with exhibitor members
  • Had a confirmed meeting with an exhibitor or its members
  • Had a chat conversation with the exhibitor
  • Visited or bookmarked the exhibitor page
  • Visited or bookmarked an item of the exhibitor
  • Clicked on the ad on the exhibitor page
  • Registered or physically attended the sponsored sessions
  • Watched the sponsored sessions online
  • Downloaded documents

Ways in which the entire team can maximize the benefits of the lead reports:

  • Sales teams can access lead data to personalize follow-ups that are relevant to each lead's interests, enhancing the chance of conversion
  • Marketing teams can access engagement metrics to refine strategies, customize content, and create targeted campaigns
  • Organizers can leverage lead data to craft Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) for targeted demand-generation campaigns and measure the event's impact/ROI for future participation.

When it comes to attendee data, there may be some concerns around collection, storage, and usage. With Swapcard you get full control over your event data, including who can access what lead report, so you can optimize data sharing while adhering to strict data regulations.



Lead capture tools and apps are no longer a nice-to-have at events but rather a necessity for exhibitors looking to streamline lead generation, improve data accuracy, and maximize ROI.

Want to see how Swapcard’s Lead Capture feature can help streamline your lead generation efforts and increase revenue opportunities for your exhibitors?

Get in touch





Blessing Lola A.
Blessing Lola A.

Blessing Lola is a multilingual content marketer with a passion for the art of storytelling. For her, stories are the bridge connecting a brand with its audience, and she takes pleasure in using them to inspire, educate, and drive growth. When she isn’t crafting killer content for global brands, you’re likely to find her pondering the gender of an inanimate object in a random German supermarket. Die Nutella or Der Nutella? Das ist the question.

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