Trade Show Wish List? An Event Managers Perspective

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I recently returned from ISC 2011 in Hamburg, Germany the last ‘large’ trade show that Spectra Logic attended during our 2011 fiscal year. It seems I’ve been all over the world during our last FY – Las Vegas, San Diego, Amsterdam, Hamburg, New Orleans…the list goes on…

On my plane ride back I had some time to reflect on the events that Spectra has attended over the last twelve months and I wanted to share my recap with you – I’ve created a short list of the most important things on Spectra’s  event “wish list”..

1. Qualified Attendee Base – There is absolutely no substitute for a well-qualified audience. When show organizers put together an event, it’s essential they meet both the needs of end-users and industry sponsors/exhibitors. From the end-users’ point of view, worthwhile content, sessions, presentations and exhibiting vendors are important in deciding whether or not to travel to an event. From an industry sponsor/exhibitor standpoint, companies like Spectra want to see well-qualified registrants attending. Pre-qualification is always a bonus for us, however, we only tend to see this in day-long seminars versus large, weeklong conferences.

2. End-user Speaking Sessions – Spectra is a firm believer in education. Wherever possible we sign up for speaking engagements via event sponsorships, birds of a feather submissions, etc. We like having the capability to stand up in front of an audience and educate them on best practices – not necessarily on our products. We find it extremely important to first build trust with customers, and then introduce our product line.

3. Social Media Campaigns – Social media buzz around events on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is important to us – our social media reach is ever expanding and we like to reach out to event attendees in creative ways. We love to live tweet/host Facebook contests from our booth at events – for example we regularly giveaway iPad’s via event trivia contests on our social networks. Follow us at fan us on more examples.

4. Booth Hours – Long booth hours are okay – however, for smaller events networking opportunities are just as important as being able to display our equipment. We like face time and talk time – and sometimes having conversations in social settings versus in a booth can better facilitate conversations with end users.

5.  Customer Interaction – Plain and simple – having the opportunity to generate new business, visit with our existing customer base and create brand awareness is very important to any vendor attending/sponsoring a trade show.

ISC2011 was good in the aspect that our sponsorship package included a speaking engagement, and a “whisper” suite, a private room where we could hold private meetings. Booth visitors were of all flavors, and some had existing storage projects in place – exactly what we like to see. Hopefully more trade shows will trend in this direction. I’m looking forward to the upcoming ‘event season’!

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