Planning an Expo that Your Attendees Will Love


Expos draw big crowds thanks to the promise of access to industry advances and educational opportunities.  You and your corporate meeting planner are ahead of the game in that you’ve already got a wide audience of leads interested in the subject matter of your expo, but you can’t rest on your laurels.

You need to find ways to turn interest in to sign up to boost attendance, and then deliver a memorable experience that attendees will want to share and repeat.  How can you and your global meeting planner pull off an expo that attendees will love?

Work with Your Corporate Meeting Planner to Automate Registration

Check-in can be a major pain point for event attendees, thanks to long, boring waiting lines and poor organization.  What can you do to ease the transition into your expo?  Start by upgrading check-in technology.

Self-serve options can not only cut down on wait times but also reduce needed staff, so research your options and thoroughly test them before the event.  If you think there might be lines at traditionally heavy registration times, add entertainment to beat boredom and create share-worthy moments.

Consider Diverse Payment Options

Cash may be king, but the common people tend to prefer credit.  It’s no surprise when you think about it.  Cash that is lost or stolen is irretrievable, while a stolen credit or bank card can quickly be canceled, and fraudulent transactions are generally easy to recover.

Your options for sales don’t begin and end when people sign up and pay to attend the expo.  There are untold opportunities to sell them food, merchandise, and even experiences, but only if you make it easy for them to pay.

Accepting cash is a given, but you’ll also want to make sure vendors are able to take credit cards, and you should probably at least consider working with your global meeting planner to implement modern payment options like mobile payments or even RFID badges or wristbands.

Says Annie Fernandez, Director of Marketing at AMI, “People are a lot more likely to make impulse buys when they don’t have to think too hard about it.  When you run a cash-only operation, you’re seriously limiting sales.  Event attendees don’t want to have to find an ATM and return to make a purchase.  A simple swipe with a card, wristband, or mobile device makes purchasing easy and boosts event sales.”

Carefully Vet Vendors and Exhibits

When people attend an expo, it’s because they want to see the latest and greatest products and services the industry has to offer.  It’s your job to curate a lineup of vendors both beloved and novel to keep attendees interested and make sure they get their money’s worth from the experience.  Many attendees that come to the same event annually do so because they want to see specific vendors or they’re excited about new ones.

How can you gauge the vendors that are likely to draw returning crowds and entice new attendees from year to year?  The best way is to ask attendees what they like.  Cruise the floor to see where guests are gathering and ask them directly to name their favorite exhibitors or explain what they’re looking for.

You can also send out follow-up surveys and tap into social media to see what attendees are liking and sharing.  All of these efforts will give you and your corporate meeting planner clues to which exhibitors to invite back in the future, and how you can find new acts that are sure to please your audience.

Screen for Suitable Entertainment with Your Global Meeting Planner

Exhibitors are a large part of why attendees sign up for your event, but guests also expect entertainment, which is why you need to add speakers, panels, workshops, demos, and other entertainment options.  You and your global meeting planner should also consider live streaming from the event.  This will ensure that attendees have access to plenty of educational and entertainment opportunities and that they don’t miss a minute of the activities that interest them.

Focus on Layout but Don’t Forget Creature Comforts

Any expo is bound to feature a lot of walking and information gathering, which can strain both body and mind.  What can you do to help attendees rally?  Provide ample creature comforts.  Sustenance is a must, so make sure you and your corporate meeting planner incorporate plenty of coffee, juice, and snack bars throughout the venue and think about providing reusable water bottles in your welcome packets.

As for tired tootsies, you might bring in masseurs to set up foot massage stations around the venue, providing rejuvenating R&R sessions that will soon have attendees up and at ‘em, ready to explore more exhibits or attend lectures and panels.

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