What’s the New Trade Show Organizer-Exhibitor Engagement Model?

If you're aiming for a strong return on investment (ROI) on your trade shows amidst budget cuts and evolving market demands, embracing innovative practices for organizer-exhibitor engagement is key.

To explore how exhibitors and organizers can go beyond the basics and support each other more effectively, Matthew B. (Senior Product and Operations Manager at HLTH) and Thomas Mauch (Business Development Manager at RAI Amsterdam) joined us on the latest episode of Expo Experts Explain. 

During the session, we tackled the support system—or, more accurately, the lack thereof—that exhibitors often face. Then there's the big question of value—specifically, how exhibitors demonstrate the ROI of their participation to their leadership teams. 

And what happens after the event? How do exhibitors keep the momentum going, turning those initial interactions into ongoing conversations and, ultimately, strong connections through digital marketplaces and communities?

We covered this and much more during the full episode.

Swapcard_What’s the New Trade Show Organizer-Exhibitor Engagement Model?_Watch on demand

Here’s a short transcript to get you hooked!

According to CEIR, 81% of trade show attendees can make purchase decisions, even if they buy don't immediately. How can we organizers help exhibitors maximize these potential buyer relationships?

Matt: A key responsibility of an organizer is to facilitate interactions and networking effortlessly, thereby enhancing ROI for participants. This involves engaging attendees with technology and simplifying the onboarding process to integrate them into our event ecosystem fully. 

“Our commitment extends beyond just accepting a signed contract. We offer continued support, ensuring any inquiries to our customer service team are addressed within 24 hours and providing demos and detailed documentation. Our aim is to leverage technology to foster positive onsite interactions, supporting attendees to the extent they require.”

Thomas: As venue providers, it's essential to present case studies and share best practices from various events, whether corporate or associations, to our organizers. This collaboration involves highlighting successful strategies and emerging trends and illustrating to clients like Matt and others what has been effective.

“It's a collective path that we go down with our partners - it's a constant dialogue that we have to offer and show what others are doing, to try and show that it is possible.”

Let’s get into it! Exhibitors often invest significant amounts, often tens of thousands of dollars or more. 

How can organizers assist exhibiting teams in demonstrating ROI to their leadership, given it's a collective decision? At what point should organizers prioritize exhibitor satisfaction, and what methods or long-term strategies are being implemented to enhance and support exhibitor ROI?

Thomas: I'll begin by highlighting a significant technological upgrade at our venue: we are among the first in Europe to implement a private 5G network. This investment enhances our facility's capabilities, allowing exhibitors and organizers to fully utilize advanced technology, such as apps, WiFi heat mapping, and beacon technology. 

Swapcard_What’s the New Trade Show Organizer-Exhibitor Engagement Model?_Thomas Mauch Quote

Beyond technology, we're focusing on sustainability, offering services that encourage exhibitors to consider the longevity and environmental impact of their products. This includes encouraging practices like upcycling and recycling, not just in event execution but also in the design and use of their physical booth space, to support their efforts across Europe and globally.

Matt:  Venues equipped with modern infrastructure significantly distinguish themselves, simplifying our decision-making process. The ability to meet our standards without having to navigate or modify outdated systems (whether they're 20 or even 70 years old) is a key factor. A venue that is ready and able to fulfill our requirements without the need for workarounds makes choosing it much easier.

When planning our next five years of events, finding a venue with the necessary infrastructure to support our needs, from data services for sponsors to general event requirements, is critical. 

"Proving ROI to exhibitors is fundamentally about data. By collecting data from attendees upfront and seamlessly sharing it with exhibitors who need it, we enhance our event’s value proposition."

Venues equipped with advanced technologies like heat mapping and private 5G networks amplify our capabilities. Such features not only facilitate our decision-making process for event locations and what we offer to exhibitors but also empower our exhibitors with the data they need, making their decision to participate in our events straightforward.

What support do you offer exhibitors beyond basic onboarding calls to ensure they fully benefit from advanced technologies like those implemented by the RAI? How do you enhance their onboarding experience for optimal use of these technologies?

Matt: The support provided to exhibitors must be as white glove as possible. It's not enough to simply send a single email for onboarding. Support should include dedicated contact points, such as specialized emails, customer support personnel, or direct phone lines, to address their specific inquiries promptly.

"Recognizing that each exhibitor has unique needs and varying levels of comfort with technology, personalized assistance is crucial for ensuring a positive experience from start to finish.

The goal is to make exhibitors feel confident and satisfied throughout the entire event process, from pre-event preparations to post-event follow-up, thereby removing any doubts about their return in the future."

This approach benefits both the exhibitors and us, ensuring they are content with their decision to participate.

Thomas: Adding to Matt's point, effective support for in-person events should mirror the personalized service expected at any high-quality venue. It's insufficient for event managers to simply send a welcome email with a stack of paperwork and expect everything to proceed smoothly. Instead, a dedicated concierge or support person should be available to guide exhibitors through any challenges they might face. 

"While event technology and automation have streamlined many processes, the importance of human interaction remains paramount."

Providing a high level of service not only strengthens relationships between venue providers and organizers but also builds loyalty through exceptional support, underscoring the value of going above and beyond in customer service.

What’s Up Next?

Thomas and Matt cover new strategies that enhance exhibitor ROI and how technology can provide exhibitors with accessible, real-time data. We also talk about the evolution of event apps from nice-to-have features to essential planning tools.

Watch the full session by clicking here.

This discussion is a must-watch for trade show organizers looking to update their event strategies to deliver maximum value and impact to their exhibitors.

If you enjoyed this content, be sure to also subscribe to our recent discussion:  Leveling Up Your Trade Show ROI: Is Data the Missing Piece? Our new panel of experts dive deep into what data points you should prioritize at your next onsite event.

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Bhavya Sharma
Bhavya Sharma

Senior Content Marketing Manager

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