As far as real estate property goes, location is the most critical thing to consider – forget the price and available facilities for a minute. Whether you’re looking for a 50,000 square foot headquarters or a simple 400 square foot stand at an exhibition, your location is what will determine your success or lack thereof.
At any trade show floor, you will find some spaces having more competition, or priced at higher rates than others. These are usually the spots that guarantee more exposure, and consequently, more visits by the attendees. If you don’t know what to look for, you can easily sabotage your exhibition efforts by inadvertently picking the wrong spot. To avoid such disappointments, take note of the following tips on location selection at a trade show:
The Early Bird
You want to be among the first booths at the entrance, as it makes it considerably easier for people to see you as soon as they walk in. This is especially important in the early days of the exhibition when all the attendees are refreshed and excited, which makes it easy to impress them and turn them into customers.
Avoid Your Competition
While it may seem like a good idea to set up next to a competitor (hoping to cash in in case their prospective buyers are not impressed), it is really not worth it. Unless there’s no other spot left, completely avoid putting up your booth anywhere near your competitors, even across the hall from them.
There are two reasons why that wouldn’t make sense. One, It would be very counterproductive if you settled near a rival who has a better booth than you. Secondly, most trade show attendees go to gather information and look around, not to commit. You don’t want to make it easy for them to collect both you and your competitors’ information for comparison.
Talk to The Show Manager Before Opening Day
A few weeks before the show starts, call the manager, and get to know what they think are the most lucrative spots on the floor. As the manager, they would also be in a position to tell you how various parts of the floor are distributed among the exhibitors. This information can help you plan and subsequently book a vantage position as early as you can.
Avoid the Bathrooms
A commonly held view among marketers is that renting space near the bathrooms at an exhibition will increase visibility due to the high number of people moving to and from the bathrooms. Now, this may work in some instances, but it isn’t always effective. For one, most of the people going to the restroom only care about finding relief and not your products. Secondly, public restrooms often have a certain nasty air about them, which may also reflect on the neighboring booths.
Consider Being A Sponsor
Some trade shows give out prime spaces based on certain criteria, such as the relationship with the hosting company. If you are a new exhibitor or small business, you will always miss out on good spots when dealing with such events. Hence, if you’re always finding it hard to get ahead of other exhibitors, consider taking up sponsorship roles and see if you can get higher priority.
Aim for High-Value Traffic
Yeah, getting lots of people to visit your booth is good, and all but what you should really be focusing on is the quality or value of traffic as opposed to just the general figures. To get high-value traffic, you need to know your target audience and then craft a branding and marketing program that will appeal to them.
The key to that strategy would be to avoid blindly paying a premium for a spot that only guarantees you exposure to many people. Instead, consider other factors such as the type of businesses that will take up the neighboring spaces, the demographics likely to attend the show, etc., before deciding on a location.
Make Early Reservations
Space selection and bookings for most trade shows are done months before the opening date. In fact, some of the bigger shows start taking bookings for the next show even before the current show ends. As such, you need to get in touch with the organizers, and other exhibitors as soon as the show dates are announced to find out when the space draw goes live. That will give you enough preparation time, which may be necessary if the space you choose comes at a premium. If you are doing a custom trade show exhibit, early space reservation will give you ample time to get all the logistics sorted. As a rule of thumb, always visit the showroom and survey the location before placing a booking. Further, pick at least three spots you are comfortable with to cushion you from disappointments if the space you wanted was sold as you were yet to pay the deposit.
The best time to start planning on your exhibition is as soon as the preliminary dates are confirmed. As you go about that, remember to keep an open mind and a calm head as disappointments are always not far off.