Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions
Exhibitions: What to do before, during and after
Organizing large events, such as conferences, conventions or exhibitions, can sometimes feel overwhelming—particularly if, as the organizer, you are expecting hundreds or even thousands of attendees. There are a lot of tasks that you need tick off your list to ensure that your event runs smoothly.
We recently spoke with Stéphane Fortin, Director of Business Development for GES Québec, the Québec City branch of GES, a major global event management and marketing company that has been in business for over 90 years. Based on his seasoned background, he gave us his top four tips on what organizers should consider when planning large-scale exhibition.
1 Plan ahead
“While it may seem obvious, good planning is key when it comes to exhibitions, never underestimate how much time it takes,” explained Mr. Fortin. “Most exhibitions, even those integrated within conferences and conventions, are planned months, if not a year or two in advance. You want to ensure that your event is on your busy attendees’ calendars and you also want to carve out enough time to attract exhibitors and sponsors, which often need to budget their investments and gain approval long before the event takes place.”
Mr. Fortin said that because big events require large facilities, accommodations, venues and more resources than smaller events, planners need to book ahead of time to secure their spots. “From my experience, last-minute reservations and planning often lead to more hassles and headaches than you bargain for.”
2 Sell, sell and sell some more
“Promoting your event, before, during and after it takes place is key to maximize exhibit bookings, sponsorship dollars, attendance and engagement,” he said. “It pays to promote a exhibition through multiple touchpoints, like industry associations, other exhibitions, email campaigns and social media promotions.”
Mr. Fortin noted that a great way to get your exhibition front and centre in the minds of exhibitors, sponsors and delegates is by fostering collaborations with market influencers and popular speakers. If they plan to attend or speak at your exhibition, you’ll be able to leverage their networks, followers and contacts to get them stoked for your event.
3 Think outside of the box
Mr. Fortin also suggested that just because you may have a tight budget, doesn’t mean your exhibition concept or design has to be bland. “Natrually, as an event planner, you want to keep your budget in check, but nowadays, there are many affordable options that can really add a wow! to your event.” He suggested talking to your event management representatives to share your vision and theme. “At GES, when we are involved from the get-go, we can come up with some pretty clever ideas,” he said. “Most event management companies have a wide network of venues and suppliers that can deliver the goods without it breaking the bank.”
In addition, Mr. Fortin recommended getting creative with your budgeting. “If you really want to develop a specific concept for your exhibition because you are certain that it will take your event’s success to a new level, you may want to shift your budget around to minimize other expenses.”
4 Invest in technology
With today’s hyper-connected attendees, investing in technology during your exhibition will facilitate their day-to-day work and enhance their overall event experience. “Technology is king in any modern exhibition,” Mr. Fortin said.
“Make sure that your exhibition venue has flawless Wi-Fi connectivity and discuss with your event management representatives regarding their options for automated registration to speed up the welcoming process. Find out if they have RFID solutions to incite attendees to visit all exhibit booths and gamify each exhibition visit. Explore interactive signage to make it easy for delegates and keynote speakers to find their way around,” he added.
Exhibitions create wonderful opportunities for members of an association, society or industry to network and discover the latest news and innovations in their sector. By taking into account Mr. Fortin’s tips, you’re likely to top the results of your next exhibition!