A trade show manager operates on uncertain footing when planning an exhibition – there is the need to attract a dual audience made up of attendees and the exhibitors themselves, making venue selection an absolutely critical part of the planning process. A great band in the wrong concert hall can leave attendees with a bad taste in their mouth regardless of the talent displayed, a principle that can be applied to the trade show circuit. Managers should keep a number of things in mind when making their next event checklist to ensure that an appropriate venue is secured for an exposition.
Scouting a location
There are currently a number of options when scouting a location – websites like Expo Database offer a highly searchable interface where managers can view the size, capacity and pricing options of popular exposition sites. This is a terrific first step in devising a shortlist of places to investigate further, whether that be with a venue directly or by an in-person consultation.
Event Manager Blog, an industry web publication, recommends playing it old school when seeking out the perfect location for an exposition.
“Word of mouth seems to be the channel we rely on when looking for a venue or advice on selecting a venue,” writer Julius Solaris affirmed.
The blog indicated that trade show managers tend to put equal weight on Web research and the opinions of their peers in the expo community when making the critical decision, so splitting one’s attention between both is a fairly reliable way to go about narrowing down a list of venues to best serve your mission.
Making a location work for your budget
An important note for those working at trade shows is the awareness that a chosen venue may become a long-term home for the expo. A recent report from Expo for Event Innovators revealed that a trade show manager will rarely benefit from changing a venue that both exhibitors and attendees are used to.
“After analyzing an event’s demographics and identifying a city that will suit a show’s constituents, narrowing down and shopping for a convention center or venue is the next important step show organizers must undergo,” the news provider continued.
Analyzing the demographic of potential attendees is a critical part of finding an exposition’s ideal location – what are your potential attendees interested in that may be offered in the area? Are there any competing expositions that take place in the same region? What are other event solutions or advantages that this location specifically offers? Especially at the trade show, the customer is always right, and for managers, everyone is the customer.
Once a venue has been chosen, an organizer must make it work with their budget – in terms of importance, right below a venue decision on an event checklist should be food accommodations, and attendee and exhibitor travel and lodging arrangements. In a way, a location is simply a first gateway decision to the myriad factors that lie ahead in the planning of an expo, but it’s a critical element.
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