According to a report published by the Center for Exhibitor Industry Research (CEIR), 87% of exhibitors surveyed rated face-to-face interaction in marketing their company’s products or services to prospects very or extremely important. Similarly, 76% of attendees rated face-to-face interaction with potential vendors and suppliers very or extremely important.
Trade shows and exhibitions facilitate indispensable socioeconomic activity by bringing together businesses and professionals in a specific industry to create new and viable business opportunities. Suppliers participate in trade shows to explore fresh opportunities and enhance business partnerships. The prospect of meeting multiple suppliers in one location and exploring many solutions simultaneously is equally valuable for buyers.
Of course, the real business and action happens at the event venue where the actual meetings take place. However, technology can go a long way in empowering your registered participants to make new connections and schedule meetings even before they travel to the event.
Effective pre-show networking enables buyers and suppliers to plan and strategize so that they can make the most of their resources on the show floor. It also creates more value for your event participants and keeps them coming back. If attendees and exhibitors can make significant business connections while at the trade show then the value of the event increases for all parties involved.
Leveraging Technology for Meaningful Connections
It’s crucial to provide an immersive experience to attendees during the planning stage so that participating brands can make meaningful connections.
Enable registered attendees to log in securely to provide in depth demographics information, and suppliers to provide comprehensive details about their solutions as well as show specials. Encourage them to provide keywords and phrases that maximize their discoverability to their target audience.
Leverage technology to assist attendees in accessing matched exhibitors and products based on precise matching criteria. Buyers’ search preferences and online activity can also be key indicators in determining their matched suppliers. Smart and accurate recommendations ensure that exhibitors get more and better qualified pre-show leads.
Secure search and planning tools improve attendee experience and motivate them to engage with the exhibitors’ content ahead of the event. Slick product and video galleries provide an active engagement experience to users while ensuring better visibility of suppliers’ services to their targeted audience.
Facilitate email communications and appointment scheduling between registered participants. When suppliers and buyers can communicate with their business matches before the event, their meeting at the show becomes more productive because less time needs to be spent on standing in queues and making elaborate introductory presentations.
Dan Ehinger, Administrative Coordinator for the Industrial Supply Association who also manages the FASTMATCH® program for their annual convention participants, explains the benefits of this approach. According to him, [using technology] participants get to set their own appointments so they can choose who to meet with, and exhibitors know they have pre-scheduled appointments and it helps to take some of the pressure off of exhibiting.
Integration with popular registration systems ensures that registered attendees get automatic access to networking features without requiring manual imports, saving your team a lot of effort and hassle in the process.
The organizers of National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)’s annual conference and expo have been reaping the benefits of this approach. Connie Mikels, Director of Expositions, NADA shared that it’s great not having to worry about additional programming or data transfer which makes things so much easier and more efficient from their perspective.
Multi-Screen, Multi-Device Support
Automatic, real-time syncing of personalized information across multiple devices enables attendees to avoid duplication of effort and to access planning tools and networking options seamlessly.
At a2z, we have found that show organizers who facilitate buyer-supplier connections through our networking and matchmaking solution, have increased attendee engagement by up to 50% and reduced time spent on manual scheduling and updating by as much as 50-100 hours.
Selecting the Right Technology
Clearly, providing a reliable and secure technology solution to facilitate pre-event networking amongst your audience is crucial to the success of your trade show. To realize this success, it is equally crucial to select a solution provider with a proven track record in providing cutting-edge solutions, an agile platform approach and well established deployment processes. Features that make it easy to deliver integrated marketing and tap into detailed analytical reports are also significant ingredients that go into making an effective networking solution. Your team would also want to check for a long history of working with event organizers, a thorough understanding of your business processes and a strong portfolio of clients. Conducting an in-depth analysis of features and requesting detailed post event reports for other events is also highly recommended.
1.Collecting complete information from event participants is the first step to networking success.
2. Using technology to find intelligent matches saves attendees considerable time and effort.
3. Interactive content boosts exhibitors’ reach ahead of the event.
4. Pre-show communication tools enable attendees to be better prepared to maximize their time at the event.
5. Seamless syncing between different technology platforms ensures that participants always have access to up-to-date information.
6. It’s crucial to ensure attendees’ personalized data is real-time and in sync across web and mobile devices.
a2z’s networking and matchmaking solution offers a superior online experience and successful business interactions between matched event participants before and after they meet at your event. Our robust platform is making it possible for many leading exhibitions and conferences to take full advantage of digital innovation to effectively bring buyers and suppliers together.