Ann and I have been to a lot of meetings… we’ve really taken on the Sampler Platter; meaning, lots of different shapes and sizes to choose from!
One thing we’ve noticed that really came to a head during our Experienced Exhibitor Mastermind focus groups, is that the meetings that take place in smaller spaces typically seem to result in happier exhibitors.
After really reflecting on it some more, it makes total sense. Here are some reasons why you should consider downsizing your conference space…
Smaller Spaces (typically) Equal Loser Costs
When you don’t have as much overhead in the hotel/conference center, you are in a position to lower your exhibitor fees. When exhibitor fees are high, the percentage of ROI drastically decreases. Often exhibitors are going to get the same amount of traffic at their booths regardless of the size of the exhibit hall (if the attendance numbers are comparable). So when the marketing and sales teams are making schedules for next year, it’s more likely that the show which resulted in higher profit margins is going to make the list of approved meetings.
Even if a vendor goes to a meeting that doesn’t result in a vast amount of sales, the sting doesn’t hurt as bad when the investment was low.
Foot Traffic is More Manageable
We’ve all been to meetings where the walk from the hotel room to the lecture hall and/or the exhibit hall is about the same distance as the Earth’s circumference.
Problems: A) it’s exhausting for everyone B) it’s hard to control the traffic patterns.
It’s imperative to keep the attendees in close proximity to the exhibit hall in order to increase the likelihood they will wander in and browse. There are many attendees that don’t have a lot of motivation to go into the exhibit hall; by keeping them far away from it or making it difficult because it’s a longer walk, the chances go down even more
When you’re in a small space, you can more easily guide and direct traffic to the Exhibit Hall because there are fewer places to roam. Plus, if it’s in eyeshot or they see their colleagues going in, the spark of curiosity may be what they need to get them to cross the threshold.
A Packed House Looks Like a Full House
Whether it be the entire conference center, or just the room where exhibitors are located; if it’s too big, it doesn’t ever appeal to be full. Exhibitors like the feeling of being busy, and if there’s wide open spaces vs. standing room only, it feels empty.
Even if your meeting has a strong amount of attendees (i.e. 500+), if the room can fit 1,000 people, the perception is that the exhibit hall is empty/dead/boring. When the exhibit hall is smaller and people are seemingly elbow-to-elbow, this appears to be crowded and exciting. Afterall, perception is reality.
Plus, if it’s a bit more difficult to walk around freely and an attendee is forced to stand momentarily and/or walk a bit more slowly through the hall, they are going to be in a position to notice the booths around them, vs. quickly racing by to get to the snacks, coffee and exit without ever having to look up.
Ultimately, when you choose spaces that allow you provide an environment for exhibitors to increase their profit margins, tighten the patterns of foot traffic and make it look like it’s the hottest ticket in town, your exhibitors are going to feel better about coming back the next year to do it all over again… and they will sing your praises.
-Sarah Breymeier