When exhibitors attend trade shows they are there for business and contact development (Han & Verma, 2014). Participants attend conferences for experience and educational value. Addressing the gray area between an attendee experience, and exhibitor experience may be the difference between having more exhibitors attend or less at the next event. That grey area is made up of misinformation, participants having long wait times, and mismanaged operations are just a few examples. When trade shows reduce the gray area, conferences will have a better experience for attendees, increased exhibitor satisfaction, and positive top of mind awareness relating to the event. One role that helps lessen a negative experience is by having a social media presence.
Participants have ranked social networking and interaction opportunities among the most important benefits they receive at conferences (Hultsman, 2001). This makes the difference for participant's experience throughout the conference, attendees will not just be attending another meeting, but they will have an interactive session. Social media will bridge gaps in communication between participants and exhibitors. Leveraging social media to exhibitors has created results such as Increased booth traffic, increased brand awareness, improved relationships with clients, increased event attendance, additional press coverage, and increased sales (Han & Verma, 2014). There are three other key factors for exhibitors when going into a conference.
An exhibitor will stand out when they have product display, professional interaction, and socialization (Rinallo, Borghini, & Golfetto, 2010.) When it comes to their display in the conference, attendees found the more open it looked the more they perceived it as a welcoming booth. This contributes to attendee traffic and sales for those exhibitors obtaining leads at the event. Creating an interaction for participants visiting the display leaves a memorable experience. For example, having a representative doing a product demonstration every 15-30 minutes and asking questions to visitors would create an interactive experience. Experiences that exhibitors want to avoid are sensorial overwhelming, information over-load and physical fatigue. These negative factors can make participants bored, irritated, and frustrated which may cause them to express these feelings to other attendees. This will in result in an adverse effect on the brand, bottom line, and reputation of that exhibitor who paid money to be there.
Finally, none of the information here is a secret or locked up in Area 51 hiding from the public’s eye! One of the studies used here had a sample size of 50 informal interviews with exhibitors. There may be more here and it is important to experiment when exhibiting at a conference. The main message here is if you are irritating attendees when they visit your both chances are that message will spread. However, if you are focused on being interactive and leaving a positive experience to participants, that will contribute to more than just the bottom line.