|Blog: November 2017|
Filling the Booths
Your association’s conference is first about your attendees and their professional development experience. Exhibitor booths enrich the experience and make can also grow and increase your event’s profitability. A team that understands the particularities of selling floor space and working with vendors’ needs is essential. McKenna Management’s skilled team and suite of services will make that happen.
Making it Easy
The first interaction a considering vendor will have with your organization’s event will likely be your website. Make yours a one-stop-shop of information and registration by anticipating their needs.
Many vendors have to jump through their own corporate hoops internally before getting approval to support your organization. Don’t create more obstacles to your event by designing an unnavigable registration process. All exhibitors generally want to know the same thing before considering your event:
· Who are the attendees? How many will be there, and are they decision makers?
· Does your event facilitate ample opportunities for me to share my business?
· How can I justify the exhibit fee (to my boss)?
· How do I actually proceed to register, and how do I get the required paperwork for approval?
If you can answer those questions upfront, you’ve already made a good case to prospective vendors. Organize as much of those details intuitively, so vendors don’t have to wade through a dump of information. Having a responsive representative to assist exhibitors throughout the process through phone and email is invaluable; McKenna Management offers each of our clients a dedicated phone, fax, and voicemail line answered in their association's name.
Provide a streamlined sales process. A quick and easy online registration system is a must. This also captures their contact information for future marketing. Tailor your registration process to the event, so no follow up is needed and no unnecessary questions are asked; vendors will thank you for not wasting their time – or yours.
Your leads lists are the foundation to all your marketing efforts. Use a database to capture each vendor contact that you touch, and do the maintenance and research to keep that pool of potential vendors live and accurate. This practice allows you to reliably reach more exhibitors.
In addition to email campaigns, consider engaging your currently committed vendors on social media to make the partnership feel more worthwhile, and they’ll likely return the favor (right: The Association of Legal Administrators Boston Chapter keeps a healthy online relationship with their sponsors and vendors).
Don’t let one of the most obvious marketing resources go to waste: vendors who have already committed to partnering with you. Take the time to collect testimonials from event sponsors. You can slip them in with your post-event satisfaction surveys, or better yet, single out a particular exhibitor with a more personal request by phone.
Marketing raises awareness about your event and may even fill booths, but it’s an excellent event experience, start to finish, that keeps company representatives watching and asking for your event year after year.
Creating an Excellent Event Experience
Keep your vendors coming back by proving a great experience at the event. One way to do this is by making the show floor the heart of activity: place your food, photo booth, or member information table among exhibitors.
Come up with schemes that make attendees visit the tables. Hand out desirable, complementary items for vendor representatives to give out. The Massachusetts Society of Health System Pharmacists created base-ball card style raffle tickets to be given by vendors, which featured the Board Members as “players”. (Both successfully driving traffic to sponsor tables and raising awareness for volunteer engagement). This enriches the event experience for exhibitors and attendees.
Give vendors more options for participating. The Massachusetts Podiatric Medical Society provides the opportunity to purchase podium time during breaks. Reverse expo schemes or sending brochures in lieu of attendance are other ways to diversify your exhibition options.
Ultimately, you want vendors to leave with a feeling of being understood throughout the process and getting the most of their partnership with you and your association.
Caroline Santayana joined McKenna Management as Program Coordinator in 2016. She has a background in customer service and experience supporting membership based nonprofits. Caroline enjoys facilitating excellent customer experiences and polished communications. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University, and prior, studied visual art at Brookhaven College.