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Event managers are constantly being held accountable for those pesky numbers - you know, the return on investment for every event they manage. How many exhibitors are lined up for the event, how many well-known speakers, and how many companies paid additional dollars for a bigger, better sponsorship package? These are all common questions causing increased caffeine intake by every event manager today!
All event planners know that trade shows cost a lot of money up front. From venue location rentals, to finding the best vendors to work your event, to costs associated for speakers’ travel - it all adds up in the long run. It’s important for event planners to keep in mind all of the minor (and major) details when planning an event, so they are aware of how much the overall event is going to cost. Besides tracking what you are spending on an event, it’s crucial to also track what you know you will be earning - walking away with a profit can make or break your event.
So, how does a successful event planner go about tracking the ROI of his or her event? The best way to make sure your event is successful is by making a list of ways you will be able to attract more revenue from every area of the trade show. Work together with your event planning team to create an extensive list during pre-show planning, and note where you can maximize your event profit stream. Below are a few ways to ensure you will earn extra revenue while planning an exhibition.
Show Me The Money
One thing to consider to ensure additional revenue for your event, is the cost for attendee entry. Ideally, you don’t want to over-charge and have your attendees not wanting to attend your trade show due to a high fee at registration. Trade show attendees are more than likely already dishing out a nice chunk of change to travel to the event, so why make them pay to enter the event doors?
Event planners should keep their ears to the ground and watch changes in the event fee landscape - how much do competing events charge for registration? How much have you charged attendees year over year to attend the event you are planning? It’s the norm to expect an event fee to go up year after year, but make sure the attendees are getting something in return for spending those additional dollars. A few ideas here could be having all attendee meals covered, offering early-bird rates for those booking early, or even discounted rates for larger groups attending from one company.
Bigger is Better
Another way to earn additional profit at your next trade show is by creating a tiered pricing structure for booth sponsorships with amazing add-ons for your event sponsors and exhibitors. This may seem like a no-brainer, but some sponsors never put two and two together - they just sign the event contract and jump on any empty floor spot at their contracted level. The strategic thing to do here is to offer your sponsors fun add-ons with their prime booth location at all levels (bronze, silver, gold, platinum - for example).
A great idea here is to do a pub crawl through the trade show floor for all platinum and gold sponsors. The event team managing the trade show will up front the cost for beer and wine, and make the pub crawl fun and interactive with games, contests, etc - not just the run of the mill crawl through fancy booths. The events team should meet with all participating booth sponsors and make sure there is a fun theme that is displayed throughout the crawl - maybe it’s a “Game of Thrones” crawl where you are asked trivia at each booth and if you get the answer correct you win a prize! All while enjoying a free glass of wine!
The goal here is to upsell your sponsors for the best of the best, biggest booth spots on the trade show floor, and in return make sure they get something rewarding out of those extra dollars spent. You want these companies to come back year after year and increase their booth size because they KNOW they are getting amazing interactions with prospects, quality leads, and an overall awesome trade show experience.
Media Placement is Everything
Rolling off of the upsell on the booth location, event planners should also focus on add-on sponsorships. Besides upselling the booth sponsorship, look at ways attendees interact at shows and use those as engaging ways to get sponsorships involved. For example, all sponsors get the typical extra signage, logo on the event website, banner ads online, but what types of sponsorships can you sell for not only an extra event profit, but to increase event awareness overall? Maybe these consist of exclusive rights to fun giveaways in the attendee bags, or having exclusive rights to your company’s logo shine around the venue at night. Unique sponsorships are always fun to do, and fun for sponsors to snag to stand out.
Look at event attendee patterns - do most attendees enjoy networking events that are more low-key, or do they hope for fun parties they can attend at the end of the day to keep those conversations flowing? Try putting together creative party sponsorships where your top tiered sponsors get exclusive rights to make a splash here with their brands. The more dollars companies spend on booths and off-hand sponsorships, the bigger their name will be, and the more memorable they will be post-show to everyone who busted a dance move at their post-show party!
Talk it Up
One easy way to earn more dollars for your event is by saving in the right places. Marketing is a huge expense when it comes to planning a trade show. Start by looking at the ways you are planning to market your event. Is it necessary to spend big dollars on banner ads online or direct mailers? Simply put, the objective in today’s marketing world is to not over-sell an idea, but to come across as smooth and unique. By using word of mouth and social media it’s a lot easier to promote your trade show to a broad set of potential attendees.
Be sure to think through ways to promote your event online months ahead of time. You want to get the event name out there early to make sure it is buzzed about in communities, social channels, and maybe even blogs! Keep the momentum up each day to ensure your event is being talked about in fun and exciting ways! Try leaking secret musicians who may be performing at the event with fun clues. You can also drop hints at some over the top giveaways you will have, or even who may be keynoting. It’s all about charisma - having a good “event personality” goes a long way with attendees today. Nobody likes a stuffy, in your face event - it’s more about chill, exceptional experiences that are attended and sought after today.
Move Past the Traditional
Besides the traditional marketing upsells, go above and beyond and provide an online marketing campaign for all of your sponsors. Create an event community online with a landing page consisting of all event info - here attendees can interact with one another before, during and after the event. Also, offer co-branded content on the page that provides additional educational resources all sponsored by your exhibitors and sponsors.
You can take this a step further by making a fun networking area on the event landing page where attendees can sign up to “match” with their top three sponsors or exhibitors at the show and schedule a set time to meet with them. Make sure for those who cannot attend the event, that you offer them offline resources and information so that they can reach out to the sponsors they were hoping to see, but couldn’t in person.
Ditch the Norm
Something else to think about as an event planner, is how to draw attention to the trade show floor. You want your sponsors to come back again, so how can you help them to ensure they are having a successful event? Listen to sponsor needs - what do they really need from the event organizers? A lot of times it’s the way the traffic flows throughout the expo hall. Are you making sure there is a “spot” of fun in every area of the floor? By “spot” these should be simple, but necessary items such as water tanks with cups, lounge seating to relax, get off your feet and have conversations, or even phone charging stations - these little things can go a long way for sponsors, and the bigger sponsors are looking for these tiny perks at every event they have a booth at.
Be sure as the event planner that you are helping your sponsors in every way possible to be successful. Suggest fun contests, different themes for their booths, different designs for booths, and ways to maximize their booth traffic. By making your sponsors feel appreciated, they will for sure come back for your next event as happy contributors, and want to pay those extra dollars to make their booth and experience shine!
It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when planning a trade show. The focus seems to always be on staying under budget, but think larger for the next event you plan and find ways to not only stay under budget, but to bring in a greater profit. Plan ways you can maximize your event investment with your team months in advance, and in the long run it will definitely pay off.