The things I have learned over the years about trade shows
#1. Don't have them on holiday weekends
While many people think that it's a good idea of have a trade show/convention over a holiday weekend, it generally isn't. Yes, people maybe have an extra day off but they generally will spend that time going for a short trip or spending time with family. The last thing anyone wants to do it A. work and B. fight crowds in a busy expo center. From a business perspective, holiday weekends are also very busy for the venues and companies hosting your show and installing your equipment. You may be paying a premium for this sort of date.
#2. After Work Hours Are Not Appealing
Sometimes we see "after hours" mixers and shows come through. Generally, this is a lot of activity cramped into a small amount of time. After spending 8+ hours at work, a lot of people have a hard time committing to more work. Even if cocktails are involved, you are going to loose a lot of your target market to parental responsibilities, later hours and personal matters.
#3. The Best Shows are Unique
We have all been to the standard "X” show. Whether that “X” is bridal, chamber, business professional etc, it doesn't matter. Just gathering a group of people who are similar doesn't make for a great event. Have a reason for people to want to be there. Make people feel entertained and pampered. So much of our day is spent catering to everyone else, make your guests AND your exhibitors feel like their presence will be rewarding and fun.
#4. Move away from the same old boring "booth" concept.
Everyone has been to a trade show, but maybe they haven't been to a wedding pro speed dating session, or a Chamber wine tasting. You can still accomplish the same goal of networking and relationship building without the label of "show". Add some tall cocktail tables, lounge furniture and unique activities for people to engage in rather than the same old format. You will be surprised with the result!
#5. Everyone wants to win.
Vendors want to feel like they are capturing quality leads and attendees want to feel like they have gained something for their time. Do a give away for both! Promote and encourage people to vote on the best booth or presentation. Have guests walk away with something for offering their feedback and opinions. The way to their heart is through goodies!