CEIR Reports on "What Attendees Want from Exhibitions"

February 5, 2013

In its latest report, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research updated a study first released 10 years ago that took a look at attempting to answer the age-old question on everyone’s minds: “What Attendees Want from Exhibitions.”

The first part of the series of reports on this subject will focus on what attendees want from exhibitions and how well their needs are being met at events.

Respondents were asked to rate the importance of 22 possible reasons for attending, ranging from the seminars and speakers to finding a solution for an existing product.

Two overall reasons for attending an event were listed – Shopping Needs and Learning Needs – and the respondents indicated that both were mutually important, with 69 percent saying they attend to meet Shopping Needs and 66 percent for Learning Needs.

The results indicated many attendees have dual agendas when they go to an event and are seeking to meet both organizational and personal needs.

Respondents ranked the importance of attending on several subjects on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 signifies ‘Very Unimportant’ and 7 signifies ‘Very Important.’

For Shopping Needs, reasons they cited for attending an event in top to bottom order included seeing new technology, ability to talk to experts, new product introduction, interact with new products and have questions answered on the spot.

Even though respondents indicated their overall Shopping Needs were being met at events, there still is room for improvement, according to the report.

These areas include: Having Attendee Questions Answered on the Spot, Finding Solutions for Existing Problems and Gathering Information for Upcoming Purchases.

The key to this is ensuring booth staff have are fully trained and are able to handle and answer the full gamut of questions to help attendees meet their needs at the event.

For Learning Needs, the top 10 important reasons overall included four Learning Needs: Insights into Industry Trends, Professional Networking, Better Job Performance and Personal Development.

Seminars and Speakers also are an important need, with an average importance greater than 5 on the 7 point scale.

Overall, respondents indicated that exhibitions are doing relatively well meeting their Learning Needs.

Typical roles defined in the buying process include the Influencer, the Specifier, the Recommender and the Decider (Castleberry, Tanner).

In this study, a new role emerged – the Scout. The Scout is someone who is sent out to gather information to bring back to others in the organization and their needs differ slightly from the more traditionally defined roles.

Scouts are more likely than others to rate a number of needs as more important such as meet actual users, see new technology, networking and personal development, to name a few.

Scouts often decide what information and products to take back to the team, so the study suggests exhibitors consider whether they are addressing the needs of these potentially vital purchase influencers.

Overall, the study found while Learning Needs were being met, Shopping Needs required a more fine-tuned approach. Here are a few suggestions:

To strengthen Idea Generation, for example, consider peer-to-peer interaction opportunities that center on topics likely to spark ideas.

Since product interaction opportunities vary in quality by industry yet are very important to attendees, exhibitors should consider from the attendee perspective whether interaction opportunities are sufficient. Less pitch, more play (with the product) may be one way to meet attendee needs more fully.

Adopting a consultative sales approach, listen first then answer, is a way to address Having Questions Answered on the Spot.

The study concluded that “delivering in-person, customized answers is a powerful way to differentiate face-to-face marketing from alternative channels. It is the best chance to make a lasting impression.”

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Just when it seems like Las Vegas can’t get any bigger, brighter or more exciting for groups, MGM Resorts raises the bar again. The company continues to invest and innovate across its portfolio of Las Vegas resorts, with new attractions and upgraded experiences for attendees of all interests.  Remodeled Guest Rooms MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the world with over 5,000 guest rooms and an 850,000-square-foot conference center. It is home to the newly remodeled MGM Grand Studio Tower—700 reimagined guest rooms with a fun mid-century vibe. Nearby, the iconic New York-New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino recently completed a $63M redesign and remodel of its 1,830 guest rooms and 155 suites. Down the street, Bellagio Las Vegas is sporting renovated rooms in the Spa Tower with sunrise-inspired decor and luxurious soaking tubs in Premier King rooms after a $110-million transformation. Reinvented Luxury Experiences The Luxury Meetings District, made up of Bellagio Las Vegas, ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas, is now more connected than ever before. A new interior walkway opened this October for a seamless attendee experience – connecting Vdara, Bellagio, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, guests can now walk from Park MGM to Bellagio in around 15 minutes. New on the scene in the Luxury Meetings District is Cathedrale at ARIA, TAO Group’s upscale establishment specializing in exquisite French-Mediterranean cuisine offering elevated private dining experiences that opened in May. Heralded by World’s Best 50 Restaurants, GQ and VOGUE, LPM at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is opening this fall and will deliver its signature spontaneity and imaginative celebration of France’s Mediterranean cuisine, art, and culture to the unique luxury resort in impeccable fashion.  A “New Wave  for Mandalay Bay A new wave of enhancements and experiences has arrived at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, including Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar, an 8,445-square-foot restaurant that opened this June, perfect for pre- and post-game eats and drinks. Event planner’s favorite, Chef Michael Mina’s StripSteak, received a full renovation and now includes one of the largest private dining rooms on The Strip. Retro by Voltaggio debuts a one-year residency with a fun take on pop culture of the 80s and 90s with classic American dishes. An exciting addition planned for 2024 is Swingers, a 40,000-square-foot oasis of street food, miniature golf and art at Mandalay Bay. Most exciting for meeting planners, the 2.1 million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center  is undergoing a complete refresh, with lightened space, added eye-catching art, and improved technology infrastructure for even more flexible space. Energy-efficient digital signage now leads the way with faster internet speeds and new AV options. From renovated guest rooms and meeting spaces to celebrated dining options and dedicated teams, MGM Resorts is dedicated to delivering exceptional and innovative meeting experiences.