This is something I struggle with every year when planning a conference. Exhibitors are an important source of revenue for conferences and so it’s important that they are given quality time to interact with delegates and promote their products and services. So how can you come up with something fresh and interesting every year to keep delegates engaged and drive traffic to your exhibitors?
Here are a few ideas I have collected over the years:
- Ensure you have as many meal functions in the exhibit hall as you can to encourage visitation and conversations with the exhibitors. Put tall cocktail tables up and down the middle of the exhibits and scattered throughout so delegates are in front of the exhibitors and interaction naturally occurs.
- Create a sit down “Business to Business” lunch on the final day. Exhibitors are seated at tables with signs on stanchions and they can invite potential clients to sit with them or the clients can choose who to sit with in order to learn more about an exhibitor’s products. Everyone finishes on a high note by sharing a seated meal and conversations.
- Encourage exhibitors to view their booth as an opportunity to provide helpful information such as whitepapers or case studies for delegates. The focus for exhibit staff is to listen and help vs. trying to sell. Once attendees view the exhibits as something that compliments their conference experience and provides education, they’ll have more meaningful dialogue with exhibitors.
- Provide or find a sponsor for a phone charging station placed in front of key exhibitors with on-screen advertising for either the exhibitors or a sponsor.
- Instead of having a dessert at a sit down lunch, have small bite sized desserts served at or near the exhibit booths. Delegates move around the booths to try the different desserts.
If you have found a unique or fun way that works to encourage exhibitors and delegates to interact, let me know. I’m always ready to try something new!