5 Types of Trade Show Attendees (And How Exhibitors Can Attract Each Kind)

June 28, 2018

Emily Lyons

A steadfast believer in the power of superior service at every touchpoint, Emily Lyons is the founder and CEO of Femme Fatale Media Groupa Toronto-based agency known for its energetic, high-caliber event staff and its imagination-wielding, results-driven experiential marketing team.

As any experienced trade show practitioner can tell you, not all trade show attendees are the same. Attendees amble about and visit exhibits for a variety of reasons. So understanding the behaviors and motivations of different types of trade show attendees – and knowing which kinds you want to attract to your exhibit – is vital to maximizing the effectiveness of your trade show marketing efforts. Otherwise, your exhibit won’t capture as many leads as it could.

So what exactly are the different types of trade show attendees? To answer that question, it’s helpful to look at the marketing literature on the subject.

According to research, trade show attendees can be divided into five separate segments. I outline these segments here, as well as approaches you can use to specifically attract the attendee types which are most relevant to you.

The “typical” attendee. The typical attendee is the average attendee who makes up the largest percentage of trade show attendees. These trade show-goers generally stick to their agenda for the show but will occasionally visit other booths not explicitly related to their agenda.      

How to attract this attendee type? To attract the typical attendee, opt for a booth that can be accessed from all four sides – or a larger-sized booth. Why? Approximately 70 percent of their visits are to booths that can be reached from all sides and 45 percent of their visits are to booths that are larger in size. 

The “enthusiastic” attendee. For the most part, enthusiastic attendees stick to their objectives but tend to visit a lot of booths – the defining behavior that justifies the appellation “enthusiastic.” In fact, these attendees visit around three times the number of booths as the average attendee!

How to attract this attendee type? If your aim is to attract enthusiastic attendees, then roll out a large booth, as these attendees are most drawn to bigger booths where there’s a lot going on. 

Also, because enthusiastic attendees visit more booths than the average attendee does – and are thus frequently on the move – it’s critical that your booth staff are able to concisely and quickly explain to them your company’s product information and key benefits.

The niche buyer. Niche buyers look for very specialized solutions and are extremely committed to accomplishing this goal.   

How to attract this attendee type? You don’t need a massive booth to hook the niche buyer. Actually, quite the contrary – niche buyers usually visit smaller booths, ignoring larger booths in favor of finding niche products and services.

The brand buyer. For the solution to their needs, brand buyers look to well-known brands. More so than all other attendee types, brand buyers are laser-focused on sticking to their agenda for the show.     

How to attract this attendee type? Attract the brand buyer with a large booth. Even if your brand is not a household name, a larger booth signals to this type of attendee that your brand has prestige and is a competitive alternative to more familiar brands.

The newcomers. The fifth and final type of attendee is the newcomers. These attendees are new to the trade show environment and reflect nearly a tenth of all trade show attendees. 

How to attract this attendee type? Compared to other attendee types, the newcomers aren’t as comfortable navigating the trade show floor. As a result, they gravitate towards easily-visible, larger booths that have a wide range of products and services. To grab the interest of the newcomers, feature a diverse array of products and services at your booth.


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