7 Strategies For Making Your Show a “Must Attend”

Blurred business people at a expo hall

Attendance is one of the biggest reasons trade shows succeed or fail.

As an organizer, you know just how much time, effort, ingenuity, and preparation comes with executing a successful trade show. Now, imagine putting in all that work only to receive dismal attendance.

Low traffic can cause a ripple effect of losing money and reputation; exhibitors won’t sign up for the following year, you’ll struggle to break even and cover the location cost, and the community will begin equating your show with unpopularity. Putting on an event can be daunting, but there is no reason your trade show should fail if you employ a few strategies to guarantee success.

Here at InGo, we work with the top trade show organizers in the world. Their shows receive millions of attendees using key strategies to engage with new audiences while maintaining existing ones.

The secret to a successful trade show is in empowering your VIPs, your exhibitors, and yourself. Check out these seven major strategies for making your show a “must attend.”

7. Harness the power of social media

Each of your attendees has hundreds to thousands of potential attendees in their network. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be utilizing the power of social media to reach new audiences. There are lots of ways to create intrigue around your event; post photos of last year’s show, give updates on your exhibitors, spotlight special VIPs. Likes and follows turn into attendees and regular posts will garner attention from potential new exhibitors and VIPs.

6.Hold a competition for the best booth location

As an exhibitor, having your booth front and center of the trade show can mean the difference of thousands of dollars to their brand. Some trade show organizers charge extra for prime locations of the floor, but it may be worth it to you to hold a competition between exhibitors for the best booth spot. Make an announcement to your exhibitors, stating that whoever gets the most attendees to sign up for the trade show from their social media channels will win the highly coveted booth location.

5. Hold a competition for most impressive booth

A fun way to create friendly competition and incentive amongst exhibitors to to hold a competition for most impressive booth. Chances are, your exhibitors are creative people who love displaying their products. Challenge them to design their best booth yet. Better yet, ask them to share their progress on social media so their fans can show support through re-posting photos. During the trade show, attendees can participate by voting for their favorite booths. This will create a sense of camaraderie and support around the exhibitors. At the end of the show, crown your booth winner and award them with a prize that makes all the hard work worth it.

4. Do giveaways

If there’s one thing attendees love, it’s the opportunity to win free stuff. Ask each of your exhibitors to raffle off one or two items from their booth along with a business card and information about their brand. When attendees arrive, ask them if they’d like to put their name in a raffle for free goods. Consider holding giveaways every couple of hours, announcing the winner over the speaker system. Give each winner a swag bag with a couple prizes and information on the booths they came from.

3. Consider entertainment & inspiration

HLTH, Money 2020, SXSW are growing every year, largely by creating fun and exciting environments. Learn from their lead and set aside a space for music, food, and even talks from spokespeople that align with your event’s values. Whatever your demographic is, the industry you’re targeting has members in leadership positions. Chances are, the people attending (or who would be interested in attending) would love to come and hear someone of influence speak. Trade shows are motivated by community, so contact a person who embodies this community and who can inspire your attendees.

To keep the energy up, hire a DJ or a band to be the soundtrack of your trade show. Plus, if you hire someone with a following, they will share your event with their fanbase and draw in even more attendees.

2. Pamper your VIPs

VIPs are the lifeblood to your show and your exhibitor’s businesses. Treat your VIPs well by creating a VIP lounge where they can relax and get free food and drink. Make sure you take time to get to know your VIPs. Meet and connect with them, find out what motivates them as buyers. Allow your VIPs to tour the show before the doors open to the general public. Better yet, give them a personalized tour of each booth. Provide your VIPs with free accommodations if they’re from out of town. Allow them to invite their own connections to stay for free. Create swag bags for your VIPs and ask your exhibitors to provide products that best represent the quality for their brand.  

1. Show attendees which network connections are also going

Imagine how motivating it is for your buyers to see creative and interesting people going to your event. At InGo, we have seen significant engagement rates and increased conversion to onsite when we show attendees which individuals from their own network are attending. Your VIPs are your most influential members as they have hundreds to thousands of connections. When they use InGo, you have the ability to reach their entire network. Your VIPs will be able to see which connections of theirs are going, creating even more incentive to attend and spread the word about your show. It’s an opportunity for them to foster new connections and rekindle old ones.

Want to learn more about attracting more attendees to your trade show using word of mouth marketing in the digital era? Get your free demo today.