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July 7, 2015

One Tip That Can Set Your Show Apart: Experts Share Their Best Ideas


Every show organizer dreams that their show will somehow be perceived as different—and better—than the rest. But the reality is, most of them do the same things year after year, show after show. Then they wonder why interest is down, attendance is lagging, and exhibitors are dropping out.

Wendy Holliday is with Velvet Chainsaw, a consulting group that helps associations and producers improve their conferences and find new opportunities for sponsors. She suggests organizers approach all the elements of show planning from the perspective of “mattering.”

“What I mean by that,” she explains, “is how do you make this matter to the attendee? How do you make it matter to the sponsor?

She offers her best tip for setting a show apart:

Networking is a big part of live events, but many people find it uncomfortable or awkward to initiate. So Wendy counsels show organizers to offer sponsors the opportunity to host a “progressive lunch,” providing attendees a unique way to network.

At the luncheon, attendees are seated in groups of eight at round tables. A moderator at each table starts the conversation. Those eight people enjoy their salads and conversations together, and then they move to other tables to be served their entrée. Another moderator, another conversation, another chance for participants to network. And the same thing happens for the dessert course.

The sponsor can be heavily involved, with representatives greeting attendees as they come in and thanking them as they leave. An additional component (such as a white paper) could be available for pick-up after lunch at the sponsor’s exhibit, which increases the sponsor’s ability to make valuable connections with these attendees.

“Getting the whole mindset centered around what really matters to attendees—like networking—and getting rid of what doesn’t matter, like keycards and bus wraps, can make both attendees and sponsors really happy,” claims Holliday.

Our next tip comes from Ivan Lazarev, president of ITN International, a leader in mobile Near Field Communication (NFC) and cloud-based solutions. He encourages you to bring gaming to your event, in an innovative and involving way.

“We did an event with about 8,000 attendees, and approximately 800 of them played the game,” he explains. “But those 800 people created a buzz that resounded throughout the entire show. While the attendees played on their mobile devices, we kept track of all the points everyone earned.”

Ivan continues, “Every hour, the highest scorer won an X-Box. It was amazing to see how crazy those people were getting, trying to rack up the greatest number of points. The whole idea was to create a unique experience and entice attendees to interact. I think a lot of show producers have forgotten that people come to a show wanting to have fun. So if you take it upon yourself to create a game, you’ll offer something that other shows aren’t doing.”

Two experts have offered two unique and engaging ideas to help you take your show to the next level. All they’re asking you to do is do something different.

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