Over the last several days, Ann and I have had multiple conversations with exhibitors to gain insight which will could help meeting planners better understand how they can improve the exhibitor experience at their events.
During that conversation, one of several interesting comments was made… to better communicate it, I will try to quote it:
EXHIBITOR A : We crushed sales at that meeting; it was really good!
EXHIBITOR B: We did too; we probably had more sales at that meeting than any other in the last several months.
After I heard these two anonymous exhibitors make these statements, I was very intrigued due to the fact that the particular meeting being mentioned was different than many… the difference being that the planners had scheduled for SEVERAL off-site activities for attendees which included golf, water activities, wine tastings, etc. Fun stuff, right?
But my concern, initially, was that these types of activities could potentially take time away from the exhibitors. Apparently – not the case.
So my brain started spinning a little bit more and we started discussing the theory that if attendees are genuinely enjoying the meeting almost as if it were more of a vacation, could that impact their spending habits in the exhibit hall? I mean, think about it… when do you spend a lot of money… on vacation!
There is much more observation needed to bank on this theory, but if this is the case, then we highly encourage meeting planners to find creative ways to keep the attendees smiling beyond education; find ways to help them escape and relax. Because if this theory is true, then the exhibitors are going to be potentially making a lot more in sales… and everybody wins!!!
Additionally, here are some initial ideas that you may consider when trying to incorporate ways to shape a fun and inspired meeting:
  • Be very strategic about your city/venue choices; visit them to get an idea of how you feel when you’re there. Does it make you feel relaxed, or does it make you feel anxious? Maybe you feel nothing, which doesn’t inspire either.
  • Find some entertainment; consider a band, a comedian, or a magician to lift the spirts of everyone during a day that may be feeling mundane.
  • Inspire your audience by bringing in new types of speakers that they haven’t heard before; these could be speakers from different verticals, but still match the educational goals of a DPM.
  • Mix up the format. It can get really boring to constantly have standard lectures and PowerPoints. Mix it up with some round tables or discussion groups that allow your audience to interact and feel like they’re a part of the action.
  • Bring in a motivational speaker. We’ve discussed this before, but here’s a new twist on it… have a motivational speaker do a presentation right before an exhibit hall break. This way, if everyone is feeling extra good afterwards, the exhibitors will reap the benefits of a happy crowd coming into the hall.
These are starting points, so jot some of your own down and have fun creating fun!