4. Presentation of the Exhibitors
At conferences, it is always a bit of a challenge to drive traffic to a lobby exhibition. The delegates primarily attend the conference to network, get information about new trends, take part in the sessions.
So the task is to make sure to connect those delegates with the exhibitor staff – in an appropriate way. You can’t push the delegates, but you want to give the exhibitors and partners visibility and get them in touch with their target audience.
Basically, there are four aspects that we took into consideration in Vienna to make that work:
- Pay attention to a good Expo floor layout: It seems like a no-brainer, but often times the lobby exhibition does not take off due to bad floor layout planning. It is imperative to combine networking break areas with the exhibition, and to set up a number of coffee outlets in that area. In Vienna, that worked very well. To enter the conference complex, everyone had to pass through the exhibition area. Unfortunately, I have seen quite a number of conferences where this was not taken into account properly, and no matter what sophisticated online networking tools you might have in place, they’re worth nothing if you don’t get those basics right.
- Allow enough networking time: Minimum is half an hour coffee breaks and 1,5 hours lunch break, I believe. Especially with a larger conference, it takes some time to get the people out of the conference room, let them get their coffee, and afterwards get back into the room. Your schedule has to reflect the need of the exhibitors for face time with their potential customers. I have to say we could have done better here, because we wanted to squeeze in too much content in the sessions. Room for improvement.
- Provide online networking tools: This time, we put a special focus on the social networks Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn rather than providing a closed network for all delegates and exhibitors like in the past. We encouraged all exhibitors to use the conference hashtags in their pre-show Twitter campaigns, join the Facebook page and the LinkedIn group for the World Newspaper Congress, and, thus, participate actively in the online discussions. I believe this is the right way forward. However, we have to do a better job at training the exhibitors how to best use these platforms, because not all of them are on the same level when it comes to networking skills on social platforms.
- Think about a good visual presentation: Due to the co-location of the World Newspaper Congress / World Editors Forum with IFRA Expo, we decided to publish one print publication both for the Expo and the accompanying Congress lobby exhibition. Thus the Congress exhibitors got a lot of extra visibility, because the Expo visitors also got to see them. They were also included in the World Newspaper Week app. One feature was particularly appreciated: We invited the exhibitors to a video shooting on the day prior to Congress / Editors Forum opening. We had the video staff on site, anyway, and they produced a very nice clip that ran in the breaks. It was shown at the end of the inauguration ceremony, with very high attention. Click on the video below to see how we did it. The clip presented the exhibitors in a very sympathetic and personal way, much better than just showing still photographs or even only logos.
Vienna 2011 Review:
- Twitter coverage
- The World Newspaper Week iPad and Smartphone app
- Exhibitor presentation at the World Newspaper Congress
- The delegate survey, implementing Event ROI methodology (coming soon)