By Bill Sell
Director of Event Development, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
Serendipity. It’s one of the greatest benefits of face-to-face marketing and exhibitions. According to Dictionary.com, Serendipity is ‘an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident,’ and business-to-business exhibitions do this very well.
Think about a printed magazine. Want to read the article or see the ad on page 36, you can flip the publication open right to that page and skip everything before. But at an exhibition, if you are looking for ‘booth 36’ you need to actually walk by all of the booths leading up to that location. Is there a chance of finding some interesting new products or suppliers? Serendipity!
Attending conferences also plays well with serendipity – ever sit in a conference and not make eye contact or talk with others in the room? Face-to-face events have so many advantages over online-only programming or print content. The recent CEIR Changing Environment of Exhibitions Study looks at many unique benefits over other marketing or sales channels.
The study indicated 61% of executives surveyed feel face-to-face offers them the ability to see a large number of prospects and customers over a short period of time. If attendees plan their trips properly, then appointments are made in advance. Getting together with prospects who are usually tough to reach by telephone or in person in their offices, are all part of this same unique benefit of face-to-face events.
To make your face-to-face events more productive for your constituencies, push planning ahead. In your promotion campaigns for your events, keep suggesting that your exhibitors contact clients AND prospects in advance of heading out to the exhibition. These appointments still might not happen (people frequently miss at-show appointments), but being able to reconnect while still onsite at the event will improve the perceived results of the exhibition for both exhibitors and attendees.