By Tamar Beck
I recently visited an exhibition - incidentally one of the best I've seen for a long time. It was vibrant, busy and well thought out. I registered an age ago because a new client wanted to meet me there and then I pretty much ignored most of the show emails I received since then.
As is usual for many people that sign up for a show (I recently read that the average pre-registration to attendee conversion is only 50% across UK free to attend exhibitions), the day before it opened, my to do list was as long as my arm and I was secretly hoping for my client to cancel. If it wasn’t for that meeting, and despite the show and its exhibitors and seminar programme being very relevant to me, I would have not attended.
The organiser, since my registration, had been bombarding me with emails to try and convince me to show up. They even called me a couple of days before to check I had everything I needed for the show, but strangely, forgot ask me if I was actually still planning to attend. I had been VIP'd and given a few privileges, including being able to network with other VIPs at various times during the day. The organiser told me sincerely that they understood that networking at the show was important to people like me, so this new addition should have given me a compelling reason to attend, right?
After my meeting had finished, I had a quick scout around the show, bumped into a couple of people I knew, saw a few tweets from others I know that were on their way down and then I left for the office. If I had known ahead of time, I’d have happily arranged to catch up with a few people and justified spending the whole day at the show.
So what about that networking opportunity I was offered..... Personally, even with a free drink and a seat (the show was busy, there was no where to sit down), the thought of walking into a room full of people I don't know fills me with dread and is definitely something I would not choose to do unless I absolutely had to. The only networking opportunity that would guarantee my attendance at an event would be the opportunity to meet up with peers, colleagues, clients that I already have some kind of business relationship with.
Yes, I admit, increasing your target audience’s commitment to attending your event is one of the primary issues we are aiming to solve with our new social registration solution. But forgetting that for now, as an ex-organiser and now a regular exhibition visitor, I feel qualified to say that for me, once I have made a commitment to meet up with people I know (on a professional level), I will attend.
It makes me wonder, really, how we continue to sell exhibition space to companies on the basis of a few broad visitor stats from the previous year and a whole lot of effort on the part of both the organiser and exhibitors. If we can show visitors which of their 1st tier LinkedIn connections are visiting the show, why not enable exhibitors and their stand staff to be able to see and do the same..... it just makes sense. That's why we've put such a focus on exhibitor value into our solution.
Transparency and value for all - organiser, visitor and exhibitor. Could this be one of the most compelling reasons to attend an industry event for a busy professional? We think so!