Four Insights for Show Organizers from the Latest Brand Experience Research

August 31, 2017

Katherine Zimoulis

As Vice President of Content Marketing for Freeman, Katherine Zimoulis helps tell the stories of the incredible work being accomplished at Freeman and shares the deep insights and thought leadership found within the organization. 

Every audience touchpoint gives show organizers an opportunity to engage, educate and build lasting, meaningful relationships between brands and consumers. But what was considered “meaningful” yesterday has been forever altered, thanks to intense competition, evolving demographics and emerging technology.

To better understand the ways in which event marketers are responding to these change drivers, Freeman commissioned research firm SSI to conduct an independent, global study of more than 1,000 marketers in a range of roles across North America, Asia and Western Europe.

This research yielded numerous insights into the decisions event marketers are making given this shifting environment. For show organizers and associations seeking to attract these event marketers, this information could be worth its weight in gold.

  1. Marketers Use Brand Experience to Achieve Key Goals

More than nine out of ten marketers agreed: Brand experience delivers stronger face-to-face interaction and more compelling brand engagement. And more than half agreed brand experience is an effective way to reach these key goals:

  • Build relationships
  • Generate leads
  • Grow brand advocacy
  • Make customers feel valued
  • Increase sales

Show organizers can help marketers and exhibitors amp up these results by providing opportunities to treat their audiences to experiences they couldn’t find anywhere else, whether that’s through the trade show floor, sponsorships, education or beyond.

  1. Marketers Are Spending More on Brand Experience

Marketers are shifting their spending: over the next three to five years, marketers will allocate up to half of their budgets on brand experience.

Interestingly, B2B marketers are more likely than B2C marketers to grow their budgets. And although marketers in Asia currently maintain the lowest average budgets (as compared to marketers in Europe and North America), they’re ready to start closing that gap and spending more.

Show organizers can help marketers spend their budgets wisely by providing advance access to audience insights to enable more strategic exhibit booth planning and post-show access to event data to enable ROI analysis.

  1. Marketers Leverage Technology to Personalize Experiences

Harnessing all the senses helps brands form stronger connections and boost both loyalty and sales.

Surprisingly, only 25 percent of marketers embrace multi-sensory experiences.

However, some organizations are truly crushing it. These marketers that are involved in 20-plus events per year typically leverage multiple tools to create “wow” moments for their audiences:

  • 29 percent use interactive touch screen technology
  • 21 percent take advantage of location mapping and beacons
  • 16 percent use virtual reality
  • 15 percent add gamification elements to their events

Show organizers – particularly those that operate in Asian markets – may want to tap into this technology-fueled approach by providing a wider array of digital enhancement options for exhibitors.

  1. Marketers Value Different Aspects of Brand Experience

The survey was unanimous in one aspect: brand experience adds a high degree of value. But respondents differed in their perception of where that value comes from.

  • Increase advocacy:
    • Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs): 58%
    • Brand Managers: 45%
    • Event Planners: 40%
  • Showcase thought leadership:
    • CMOs: 48%
    • Brand Managers: 33%
    • Event Planners: 28%
  • Generate content:
    • CMOs: 21%
    • Brand Managers: 33%
    • Event planners: 33%

This suggests show organizers may want to adapt their messaging to fit each of these roles, stressing brand advocacy and thought leadership when talking to CMOs, for instance, and the ability to create content that can be shared with key stakeholders when talking to brand managers and event planners.

Ultimately, the best way for any brand to be remembered is to be memorable. The more show organizers can help marketers create opportunities to engage in new and meaningful ways, the more their events will capitalize on the power and the promise of brand experience.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.