Focusing on retention efforts as well as acquisition is equally important to your overall exhibitor mix. Make sure you are fully prepared to engage in proactive conversations with exhibitors on-site about their return involvement. Especially when excitement levels are high and exhibitors are having a successful experience at the event, you will want to take advantage of this time to boast about all the exciting developments already underway for the following year. Make it a must attend – not a maybe!
1. Ensure you can communicate Save the Date type information for where and when your event will be held the following year. Exhibitors will want to know the basic particulars such as date, location and venue prior to making a renewal decision.
2. Work with your show decorator in advance to create a preliminary floor plan that entices exhibitors to select their booth location early. Make copies for distribution or – better yet - blow it up on a foam core board and display it on an easel in the back of your hall for all to see! It works well to have a visual.
3. Incentivize on-site exhibit renewals by offering a “show special” discounted rate for a limited time, or reserve a section of prime real estate booths for your loyal exhibitors. First come, first served models work well to create a sense of urgency in renewing. In addition, point based models might offer an additional point or two for exhibitors who renew early.
4. Meet and greet the decision-makers. Pre-schedule strategic meetings with key decision-makers whom are planning to be on-site. Use this time to educate decision makers on your event’s value, discuss exciting developments underway for the following year and keep them engaged by probing deeper about their motivations, goals and objectives for getting and STAYING involved. REMEMBER – strategy meetings should be scheduled during exhibitor down time. Do not attempt to have renewal conversations while they are busy engaging with attendees!
5. Have your exhibit renewal application ready to go! Make sure that interested parties have something physical to sign off on right then and there. Don’t run the risk of losing your attentive, captivated audience to the dregs of re-entry once they get back to the office.