Apps, Sure … But Where Are the Maps?

September 20, 2017

My mom and I were making our way through her favorite supermarket recently, when she said to me, “We should have picked up a directory.” Although my mom has been coming to this store for more than 20 years, the store’s ongoing remodel had left her feeling out of sorts. It took a few wrong turns before we finally came across the orange juice.

This experience reinforces what I’ve come across during trade shows: attendees want something to help them be more efficient when navigating an exhibit hall. Overhead signage and oversize directories at the hall entrance are helpful, but attendees still want something to which they can refer as they make their way across the aisles.

Mobile apps are now a must-have for conferences, with adoption rates continuing to rise as attendees see the value in having access to information that can be updated in real time. But when it comes to navigating an exhibit hall, mobile apps may fall short. Yes, apps can be used to access company descriptions, sort vendors by categories and create a list of vendors to visit. Maps, however, can be challenging to use on an app – having to zoom in and out can get old very quickly.

Showfloor Map
Use your show daily’s centerspread to publish a full-size exhibit hall floor plan and company directory.


Earlier this year during ASAE’s MM&C Conference, I spoke about the American Physical Therapy Association’s experience. They found they had unknowingly eliminated something attendees counted on: a printed exhibitor list and floor plan. APTA had replaced their onsite print program with the mobile app but continued publishing a show daily. Their daily newspaper, because of its overnight printing schedule, came to the rescue by providing the printed exhibitor list and floor plan on which attendees depended.

Another client provided a letter-size map and floor plan for attendees, but some found this too small. I happened to be hearing their complaints as I stood near a show daily bin. I opened up that day’s issue to the centerspread, where we had included the exhibitor list and a large floor plan. I couldn’t hand out copies fast enough as attendees felt that was what they needed to make the most of their time on the show floor.

There are motivating factors that are food for thought when considering reducing or eliminating onsite print communication tools at your conference. But wouldn’t it be worth reconsidering ways to provide an updated exhibitor list and floor plan to your attendees?

Staying one step ahead of your attendees is a must. Whether you have an exhibitor list and floor plan in a condensed program book or exhibitor guide, or include it in your show daily, it will show attendees you recognize that they depend on certain tools to make the most of their conference experience.

After all, I can only imagine my mom’s reaction if her grocery store only made a map of their new layout available on their mobile app – they’d lose a customer for sure.

Do you want to take that risk?

Jenn Waters is the assistant publisher and digital media manager at CustomNEWS, Inc. She can be reached at

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