CEIR Report Indicates Attracting Attendees to Shows Strongest with Personal Contacts

April 1, 2013

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the No. 1 reason attendees decide to go to a specific show is through someone they know or by word of mouth, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research report “Attracting Attendees”.

"This report provides very important, current insights to help organizers and exhibitors align their marketing approaches with current attendee behaviors and preferences,” said CEIR Research Director Nancy Drapeau.

She added, “Some longstanding practices still work today, while other practices are not apt to be as effective as they were in the past. This report also highlights differences by different attendee characteristics such as age and frequency of attending."

The report was a follow up to one performed 10 years ago and also indicated attendees like to plan in advance for a show.

The third and fourth methods in which attendees find out about shows are from the show's Web site and an exhibitor e-mail invite.

Millenials in particular want to hear about a show from someone they know, while a 'traditionalist' may still rely on an e-mail directly from the show organizer.

The least popular ways as indicated by the report are through an exhibitor-subscribed text, even if they signed up to receive one, as well as telemarketing from the show organziers or exhibitors.

Ninety-four percent of the respondents said they engage in preplanning activities. The most popular activities included choosing or registering to attend an education session/workshop (63 percent), searching the exhibitor directory (56 percent) or registering to attend special events (56 percent).

While onsite, 70 percent of the attendees said they stick to the tried and true printed exhibition catalogue, while only 24 percent said they use a smartphone/mobile version of the program.

"The most common pre-event planning activities are opportunities for exhibition organizers to engage with pre-registrants in an effort to maximize verified show-up rates." the study concluded. "The high usage of the exhibitor directory also offers a valuable statistic to share when selling enhanced listings in an online exhibitor directory."

The report also suggested that the low usage of smartphone/mobile versions of the progamr/catalogue likely are because of inavailability.

More than 53 percent of respondents also said they rely on information provided by exhibitors for onsite planning and information, as well as 51 percent look for exhibition signage for available activities.

Jeff Tanner, Ph.D., professor of Marketing at Baylor University, who worked on the report with Drapeau, said, "This study highlights the importance of knowing your audience. With the segment differences we've observed, organizers and exhibitors alike should be able to more effectively promote attendance."

Tanner and Drapeau utilized a panel of exhibition attendees provided by ResearchNow. Here is the full report: Attracting Attendees.

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