Top 5 Ways Exhibitions Can Reduce Their Environmental Footprint

Trade shows, and the events industry at large, do not have the best reputation when it comes to sustainability. The waste that accumulates, particularly at large events, can rise to huge sums. However, with more and more consumers becoming environmentally conscious, organizers have a vested interest in taking steps to reduce the footprint of their events. How can they achieve this? Through a combined strategy of digitisation, smart venue choice, reusable exhibition stands, and limited catering providers.

77% of the population now sees environmental damage as a serious concern

Thankfully, rather than branded a clan of hemp-wearing conspiracy theorists, the sustainability activists have grown to acquire a mainstream following, with 77% of the global population now viewing environmental damage as a serious concern. Each industry is having to look at its own processes to assess its culpability (some more than others), as the tide of popular opinion turns increasingly eco-centric. What of the exhibition industry? What can be done, what should be done, and what is being done currently to adhere to these new standards?

Unfortunately, the events industry is not the easiest to turn ‘green’. In 2019 it was reported that the UK events industry emits 1.2bn kg of CO2 per year, partly due to unoptimised diesel generators rendering air quality in green areas worse than in major cities. Events produce a huge amount of waste, with swag bags, single-use banners, single-use booths, flyers, giveaways, and many items of paraphernalia designed with the good intention of titillating attendees, that ultimately end up somewhere lodged in a turtle’s airways. However, there are steps that can be taken to cut down on these waste products that are steadily clogging up the planet’s pores.

1. Digitising as much as possible

Digitisation has been thrust forward at breakneck speed, as reducing paper and material contact is preferable for the environment. Any and all processes that can be digitised, should be, such as ticketing, accommodation planning, and pre-event advertising.

Some activists have begun declaring that digitisation should be expanded to the point where events are actually held virtually. From an environmental perspective, this is indeed beneficial, but also defeats the entire point of an ‘event’ in the first place (opening a Zoom tab does not equate to attending an event).

So how far can the industry go in this eco-digital pursuit? The great barrier we are unable to cross is seemingly that of the physical venue. By definition, an event requires people to gather in a given location, and waste is an inevitable byproduct. However, the elimination of handouts and flyers, increasing use of digital screens to display information are all positive steps that can be taken.

Solution: Use digital screens to display information and online e-tickets to reduce waste build-up.

2. Green and convenient venue choice

Olympia Exhibition Centre
Olympia Exhibition Centre

Arguably one of the most important decisions an event planner makes, venue choice has a significant impact on the footprint left by an event. Opting for a venue that is powered by renewable energy and with a carefully considered approach to waste handling is essential for earning the ‘green’ stamp of approval. Another component is transportation: if the event will be attracting international visitors, choosing a location that requires multiple connecting flights drastically increases emissions. Locations that are accessible via direct flights are much more sustainable.

Solution: Select easily accessible venues running on renewable energy and with an intelligent approach to waste management.

3. Reusable exhibition stands

TRIGA Go modular exhibition system
TRIGA Go modular exhibition system

For trade shows, if there is one single element of infrastructure to consider, it’s the exhibition stand. Historically, these have been single-use, one-off structures, designed to suit a specific show and a specific space. Traditional building methods, using a timber frame, panels, paints, glues, and plastics, resulting in stands that have to be completely torn apart to deconstruct. While more and more companies are turning to reusable solutions, the largest stands in the hall generally still use this method. At the end of the show, the materials end up in a skip, incurring yet more costs with the immense transportation required to transfer them offsite.

What should the industry be doing, moving forward, to avoid producing this surplus? As important as environmental sustainability is, so is financial viability, or the changes will not survive the test of time. As such, building 100% eco-friendly stands is currently not an option. However, a way to dramatically reduce stand building footprint is using modular, reusable stands. Companies like Black Robin Exhibits has been supplying individual frames that have been in use in the exhibition circuit for nearly 20 years, with 25 to 30 uses per year, amounting to a total of 500 applications.

With a modular stand, exhibitors are able to reduce their total exhibition cost whilst maintaining a relatively low footprint, by extending the stand life cycle so dramatically. An added bonus is modular stands are collapsible and thus transportable by vans rather than their bigger, gas-chugging counterpart, the lorry.

Solution: Use modular, reusable stands with some customisable features to remain financially viable and environmentally sustainable.

4. Replace printed promotional items with digital files

There has always been a certain tension between the more radical green activists in favour of rapid, drastic change, and the professionals (such as those in the events industry) who still must make a living, and prefer practical changes implemented over time that will not sink their business. Many small-business owners feel they need to offer a selection of pamphlets and informative literature about their business or else risk missing out on opportunities to hook otherwise-interested customers.

In reality, many, if not most pamphlets, are picked up (perhaps out of politeness) and promptly discarded into the nearest bin. In a large-scale event, these materials add up to a huge sum. In the digital age, the best way of offering individuals the chance to connect with your business is via a scannable QR code somewhere in plain sight. Not only is this easy and cheap, but it also demonstrates that your business takes the environmental issue seriously — which might even attract more visitors.

Solution: Exhibitors can use scannable QR codes as a means of disseminating information, rather than piles of handouts.

5. Selecting the right caterer to minimise waste

Food and drink will inevitably be served at any event. I’m sure many of you have seen those unsightly photos of a post-festival cleanup, as a few brave souls march across an apocalyptic landscape of discarded plastic. Short of letting everyone starve (unlikely to foster repeat attendance), event planners can’t completely cut down on food-related waste. What they can do, however, is make sure to avoid all non-disposable items, such as plastic cups, plates, cutlery etc., and to provide water in jugs or large dispensers as opposed to plastic bottled water. Serve fair-trade-certified tea and coffee which can be served via a cafetière or machine, milk can also be put into jugs rather than guests using individual plastic milk pots.

In terms of food caterers should be sourcing organic, heathy produce from local vendors, farms and markets, and should design the menu to reflect what’s available and in season. Before the caterers turn up to the event, they should ask the event organisers to supply recycling bins for any waste which is generated. All in all, when booking a caterer ensure you do your research to make sure they meet your brief and not cutting corner.

Solution: Minimising food-related waste and doing necessary homework on the caterer you choose.

Summary

It’s safe to say that most people do not envy the position of event planners in 2021. What with a scuppered profit margin caused by the pandemic, and the difficulty of balancing financial concerns with environmental issues, the task before them is a daunting one. However, with the explosion of events that will hopefully take place once we emerge from our chrysalis of social confinement, organisers should be crawling out of their current financial predicament. Then, there will be time to address the ever-important question of dodging a full-blown environmental catastrophe.

Top 6 Point Of Sale Marketing Tips To Increase Your Store’s Transaction Value

As a retailer, grabbing your shopper’s attention whilst in the store will not only help you to sell a few last-minute products, but it will keep your inventory constantly running in order to be able to display new items on a regular basis – keeping products from accumulating on the shelves simply because they are out of sight.

With these 6 point of sale marketing tips, you are able to provide a need that your shoppers may never have thought of having.

  1. Use the right message
  2. Take advantage of the checkout aisle
  3. Product bundling
  4. Make shoppers stop
  5. Keep your POS displays fresh
  6. Ask brands for POS displays

1. Use the right message

Studies have found that consumers make more than 70% of their purchase decisions in stores. This increases the importance of point of sale displays to give shoppers that push to add that item to their basket.

To verify this result, a study was conducted to find out whether the right message on a point of sale display can increase sales.

The result was retail stores with the winning message had an increase of 43% in sales!

Here is the link to the study for anyone interested.

2. Take advantage of the checkout aisle

Have you ever waited in line at the checkout aisle waiting to pay for your items only to add something else to your basket? We all know what’s waiting for us when wanting to pay for our products, yet we tend to fall for the same marketing strategy anyway. Why not join the bandwagon?

Place your point of sale displays at the checkout aisle in the hopes of catching last-minute sales before customers leave the store. High margin low priced products tend to work best here.

3. Product bundling

The third tip is to think about complementary products from different categories and place them next to each other. For example, a torch won’t work without batteries so placing batteries in the torch aisle will help improve your sales of batteries. Shopify has a pretty good resource on product bundling which you can read here.

Did you know? Nintendo actually sold more Game Boys when it was bundled up with a game compared to when it was sold individually. With bundling, Nintendo’s hardware sales increased by approximately 100,000 units! Because of Nintendo selling 100,000 more units, their video game sales jumped by over a million units. You can read more about Nintendo’s bundling strategy here.

Here is a real-life product bundling example here in Australia (apologies for lighting). Coles is cross-selling their Family Hot Roast Chicken with a bottle of Coke.

4. Make shoppers stop

Helga's point of sale counter in Coles
Helga’s point of sale counter in Coles

According to POPAI, most shopping is done in autopilot mode. When a POS display grabs a shopper’s attention they will switch from autopilot mode to “manual control”. Kraft Heinz’s European president, Matt Hill recently claimed that supermarkets were turning into ‘libraries’ with shoppers on autopilot as they go through the store. Because of this, they are not purchasing new products other than the ones they have been used to buying.

The primary goal of a point of sale display is to grab the shopper’s attention, make them stop, pick up the advertised product, and put it into their shopping cart. Your POS display needs to be bold and creative to grab the attention of shoppers.

5. Keep your POS displays fresh

Tobasco signage made out of PVC
Tobasco signage made out of PVC

A point of sale display needs to be constantly evolving in terms of design and its placement in the store. The longer the POS display remains unchanged, the less effective it becomes. Return shoppers will soon unconsciously ignore it similar to the banner blindness phenomenon.

6. Ask brands for POS displays

In-store food demo
In-store food demo

Ask the brands you are promoting to see what point of sale displays they can offer. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a custom cardboard display stand. It could be something as simple as a brochure holder with brochures in it.

For example, if you are selling cream cheese, you can ask the vendor to supply recipe flyers which you can promote next to the item. Another common marketing strategy that food brands use is in-store food demos.

Summary

The point of sale marketing tips discussed in this post are:

  1. Use the right message
  2. Take advantage of the checkout aisle
  3. Product bundling
  4. Make shoppers stop
  5. Keep your POS displays fresh
  6. Ask brands for POS displays

Our range of retail signage

Top 9 Ways To Attract Visitors To Your Exhibition Stand

A trade show is like a battlefield.

You are competing with hundreds of other exhibitors for the attendees’ attention. You are being compared with other exhibitors on who has a better product and service based on how your stand looks, how your staff communicates, and how they are being treated.

Here are 9 ways to attract visitors to your booth.

  1. Dress like a team
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million
  3. Invest in a great exhibition stand
  4. The way to a prospect’s heart is through his stomach
  5. Guerilla marketing tactics
  6. Mascots
  7. Do better giveaways
  8. Location, location, location
  9. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd

1. Dress like a team

A study done by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas found that employee uniforms significantly boost brand recognition and customer satisfaction, both of which are often common exhibiting goals. You want your uniforms to inspire confidence in your prospects and show that your company is established and reliable.

2. A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million

A video is almost like another booth staff that is constantly pitching to your prospects. This means that if all your booth staff is busy attending to current prospects, potential prospects can watch the video first while waiting. Some prospects also prefer watching a video to learn more about what your company can do for them first.

A video doesn’t specifically have to be used for a trade show only. One of the best things about videos is they can be used on your website, Facebook, YouTube and future marketing campaigns. However, don’t create a 10-min long video. No one is going to stand there and watch a 10-min video. If the video doesn’t tell the prospect “What’s in it for them” within the first 30 seconds, they’re gone.

Related post: 9 tips to level up your video marketing game.

3. Invest in a great exhibition stand

If you want to stand out in a trade show, a pop up display won’t do the job because most likely other exhibitors are using the same thing.

You would either have to go with a custom stand or a modular TRIGA Go exhibition stand (which we recommend because it is like a custom stand without the custom stand’s price tag).

4. The way to a prospect’s heart is through their stomach

Nothing attracts prospects like food. Free food.

Before using the free food strategy, you want to select the ones that can be consumed in one or two bites and don’t require any cutleries or plates. Finger food is your best bet as trade show food. Make sure to double-check on whether food is allowed in the show.

This strategy also gives you and your sales team time to build rapport with your prospects.

“I’ve got only two words for businesses that want to stand out at trade shows: free candy,” says Tony Alfidi, founder of Alfidi Capital. “I put out bowls of free candy the first time I ever exhibited at a trade show because human beings love freebies. The time it takes for a prospect to stop, grab a treat, unwrap it and put it in their mouths is enough time to give a 30-second elevator pitch about a product or service.”

5. Guerilla marketing tactics

One of the most famous guerilla marketing tactics was by WePay, an online payment service provider.

They dropped a 270kg block of ice filled with $100 bills at Paypal’s developer conference.

This is to make a statement that unlike Paypal they don’t freeze your money. One minute after dropping off the massive block of ice, WePay employees were confronted by security.

Other than being confronted by security, what were the results of this stunt?

  • 300% increase in weekly traffic
  • 225% increase in signups
  • Thousands of free press from TechCrunch, Reddit and HubSpot and millions of brand exposure over Facebook and Twitter.
  • WePay was recently acquired by JPMorgan for an undisclosed amount but the Wall Street Journal reported the price is above $220 million.

You can read the full story here.

6. Mascots

In terms of grabbing attention, mascots will do a much better job than booth models. You will be able to notice a 6ft chicken mascot from across the exhibition hall than you would a booth model.

To stand out at the 2017 Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, Jess from Red Duck Foods decided to cruise around the entire complex in a large red duck costume, danced by myself at the main bandstand, and posed for photos along the way.

But in addition to having some fun in the duck suit, the Red Duck team put a lot of effort into creating a booth designed to reflect their Pacific Northwest roots and to try to attract as many passersby as possible. The dark wooden plank backdrop is a nod to their timber-rich home and stands in nice contrast to the bright red logo.

The booth was also designed to include a merchandising area where Red Duck condiments line the shelves so that retailers can imagine just how awesome the products will look in their own stores!

Or you can bring real-life animals like what this company did.

“Two years ago, we partnered with the local zoo to bring two penguins to our trade show booth. People crowded around our booth from the moment the show began. We handed out penguin-themed flyers and penguin stress balls. People still remember it!” – Jesse Lear, VIP Waste Services

7. Do better giveaways

The most common giveaways are pens and mugs. Everyone is giving out pens these days. You want to be giving out something unique, relevant to your brand and useful to your prospects. Brochures being the best example here. They tick all the three criteria:

  1. They are unique to your brand
  2. They are relevant to your brand
  3. They are useful to the prospect

Prospects will also judge the quality of your brand and products by your brochures and compare it to brochures from different companies.

Do you trust the company on the left more or the companies on the right?

8. Location, location, location

A strategically-located booth can be the difference between bringing in 200 new leads vs 20 leads. Generally, the best booth locations are the ones near the entrance, at intersections with multiple traffic flows and near interest points such as cafe and restrooms.

You can read more about selecting the best booth location here.

9. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd

Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.

Imagine if you’re a tourist in New York looking for the best hot dog stand. You see one with a long line and the one without any. Which do you think serves the better hot dog?

The hardest part is attracting the first group of prospects that will, in turn, attract the next and the next.

One of the best ways is to contact your existing clients and schedule meetings with them throughout the show. This gives you a constant flow of activity at your booth throughout the show. The second benefit is it strengthens the relationship between you and your existing clients which are essentially your most valuable clients.

Bottom line

  1. Dress like a team
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million
  3. Invest in a great exhibition stand
  4. The way to a prospect’s heart is through his stomach
  5. Guerilla marketing tactics
  6. Mascots
  7. Do better giveaways
  8. Location, location, location
  9. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd

Our range of exhibition displays

Top 5 Exhibition Venues in the UK

Every year, hundreds of thousands of international business decision makers travel to events in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Glasgow to get a glimpse at the latest innovations in their industries. The UK is home to some of the largest and most popular exhibition venues in Europe. In fact, the UK is ranked #9 in terms of exhibition space sold in the world.

Exhibitors are attracted to trade shows that offer social value in terms of networking opportunities and branding. With the third-largest population in Europe and the second most widely spoken business language, exhibiting in the UK is quickly becoming an essential component in the marketing mix.

Whether you are exhibiting, attending or planning an event it is a good idea to get to know the venues. These are the top five exhibition venues in the UK.

1. ExCel London

More than just an exhibition venue, ExCel London offers visitors the chance to experience London in a unique way.

Renowned for their forward-thinking sustainable business practice, the venue compromises large, multi-purpose event halls and smaller conference and meeting rooms to suit any event’s needs. ExCel London boasts a huge capacity of almost 70,000 visitors, making it one of the UK’s largest and most in-demand venues.

Getting there

The venues riverside location means you can access this venue by train, bus, car, underground, boat and air. London has four international airports, connecting to over 396 international destinations. All this makes ExCel London an easy venue to reach.

What’s on?

As one of the UK’s most popular venues, ExCel London hosts a range of events attracting international exhibitors and decision-makers from several key industries. Some of the largest exhibitions hosted at ExCel include:

  • BETT 2020
  • VidCon London
  • Cloud & Cyber Security Expo
  • Oceanology International

Where to Stay

There are twelve hotels located within a fifteen-minute walk of ExCel London at an average cost of £150-£250 per room per night.

Where to Eat

There are twenty-seven bars, cafes and restaurants located on-site at ExCel London – plenty for you to choose from. If you want to explore more of London, a trip to Flat Iron steakhouse is the way to do it. Less than an hour away by tube, the restaurant offers great value for money in a picturesque location!

What to do

There is so much to do in London that it is impossible to say, however, if you are visiting ExCel London there is one thing you must do! The Emirates Airline Cable Car runs from ExCel London to the O2 and North Greenwich tub station. It is the UK’s first urban cable car, offering you one-of-a-kind views of the River Thames and the London skyline.

2. Olympia London

Olympia, located in London, opened its doors to the public on Boxing Day 1886. Now it is the chosen venue for over 200 international industry events.

The charming architecture, open multi-functional space and huge capacity make Olympia a sought after spot for event organisers. The site was previously used as a vineyard, and with so much on its doorstep, it is possibly the best location for an exhibition venue in the UK.

Getting there

Olympia’s central location makes it easy to access by public transport. There are six bus routes, three underground stations and two overground stations that are within a fifteen-minute walk. As a sustainable event organiser, the venue encourages visitors to get there via public transport, foot or cycling.

What’s on?

With such an ideal venue and location, it is no wonder so many event organisers choose to host their exhibition here. From small consumer shows to international exhibitions, Olympia is home to a variety of events including:

  • The Toy Fair
  • Transport Ticketing Global
  • Pub20
  • The Vaper Expo
  • Travel Technology Europe

Where to Stay

There are over one hundred hotels within a 2km radius of Olympia London, meaning you’ll be spoilt for choice. The average room rate is £50-£120 per person per night.

Where to Eat

With so much on your doorstep deciding where to eat will be a tough decision. Beaconsfield is a cosy British pub located five minutes from Olympia serving classic pub grub as well as local beers and spirits. L’Elysee is an artisanal café, great for a spot of lunch or a pre-show breakfast. Both of these eateries offer great dining alternatives to what is available at the venue.

What to do

Hyde Park is one of London’s largest Royal Parks and is located a few minutes down the road from Olympia. At 7km long, it is a great location to stretch your legs and get some air – which is always necessary over a busy exhibition period!

3. NEC

With a total floor space of 182,000m2, the NEC Birmingham is the UK’s largest exhibition venue. It attracts 3,000,000 visitors each year and boasts over 500 shows and events annually. With statistics like this, it is safe to say trade shows will continue to exist in 2030.

With the ideal combination of spaces to host exhibitions for 10,000+, a total of 18 halls, and an additional 32 conference and meeting studios – any industry event is well catered for. The location is ideal for visitors, with a spa, casino, and shopping center located right next door.

Getting there

Birmingham is located in the midlands, meaning it is easy to access from anywhere in the UK or internationally. Three-quarters of visitors live within a 3-hour drive of the NEC as its connection to the M6 and M42 make it easy to drive to.

Birmingham Airport is a 90-second speed train away from the NEC and connects the venue to over 143 destinations directly. You can also travel by train with the journey taking just over an hour from London or under ten minutes from Birmingham.

What’s on?

With that many events, you’re highly likely to find an event relevant to your business and industry happening at NEC. They host a number of events, from long-running well-established exhibitions to brand new trade shows launching for new markets. This year, the NEC is hosting:

  • The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show
  • Spring Fair
  • Packaging Innovations
  • Hemp & CBD Expo

Where to Stay

The recently built Moxy Hotel is perfectly situated between the NEC and the lake. Opened in January 2020, the brand new hotel offers 224 bedrooms within a short walk of the exhibition venue.

Where to Eat

Resorts World, located next door to the NEC, is full of bars, cafes and restaurants to suit anyone’s requirements. Whether it’s a quick bite to eat or an evening out – you’ll find all the eateries you can imagine within walking distance.

What to do

If you’re lucky, there will be a live event taking place during your stay. Resorts World Arena hosts some of the UK’s best live music, comedy and entertainment acts. If not then there is always the Santai Spa to revitalise your body after a stressful show or Bear Grylls Adventure for more extreme physical challenges.

4. Manchester Central

Award-winning exhibition venue, Manchester Central, can accommodate 10,000 delegates per day. With 23,000m2 of versatile space, it is the ideal place to host industry events of any size.

Manchester Central’s history makes it stand out from the other venues in the UK, and the remains of the old railway station can still be seen. The multi-functional spaces within the building make it an ideal choice for exhibitions, conferences, or smaller meetings.

Getting there

With Manchester having a local airport with direct links to over 200 destinations and only 20-minutes away from Manchester Central, it couldn’t be easier to attend an event at this venue. There is also a direct train from London Piccadilly or Victoria into Manchester, which is just a short tram ride away from the venue.

What’s on?

Steeping in history, Manchester Central hosts a variety of consumer shows, exhibitions and niche industry events. Its location, in the north of England, means it attracts a different audience to the venues down south. Manchester Central hosts events such as:

  • UCAS Higher Education Exhibition
  • Digital City Expo
  • Healthcare Estates Conference & Exhibition
  • Northern Restaurant & Bar Expo

Where to Stay

There are eleven hotels located within a 10-minute walk of Manchester Central, ranging in budget depending on your needs.

Where to Eat

Manchester Central has partnered with a number of local restaurants to bring visitors and exhibitors special discounts and offerings. Only two minutes from the venue, the Peaky Blinders Bar and Restaurant offers conference badge holders a 25% discount on food on the day of their conference.

What to do

Many of Manchester’s amazing attraction is completely free and dripping in culture. Take a wander into the Manchester Museum to learn about the history of Manchester Central. Check out the National Football Museum if sports is more your thing. For a bit of light-hearted fun, you can visit The Crystal Maze Live Experience, Treetop Adventure Golf or Chill Factore.

5. SEC (Scottish Event Campus)

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) is the first conference centre in Scotland to be recognised with gold charter and has been working with huge industry events since they’re opening in 1985.

The venue boasts over 22,500 m2 of multi-functional space and hosts over 50 events each year. Its location, within Scotland’s largest city, attracts half a million business decision-makers from all over the world.

Getting there

The SEC is located on the outskirts of Glasgow city centre and has a number of options in terms of travelling to the venue. There are three international airports within an hour of SEC, offering 45 connecting flights from London a day.

The campus also has its own train station and bus stops with public transport serving them on a regular basis.

What’s on?

As well as trade shows and exhibitions, the SEC is home to a number of live events highlighting how versatile the space really is. As well as international and European events, SEC hosts events such as:

  • The Scottish Wedding Show
  • Scottish Cycling, Running & Outdoor Pursuits Show
  • The Creative Craft Show
  • The Gin To My Tonic Show

Where to Stay

Due to the venue’s accessibility, several hotels offer easy access to your event as well as a chance to explore the city and the River Clyde. With prices from as little as £29 per night, you’ll have no trouble finding a place to recharge after your exhibition.

Where to Eat

Located at the East entrance to the SEC is Clydebuilt Bar & Kitchen, offering bar snacks, pizzas, burgers and sharing platters to diners. For those looking to venture out and explore Glasgow, Rioja is just a short walk away and serves authentic Spanish tapas for lunch and dinner daily.

What to do

There is always a lot going on in Glasgow, which is why it was crowned the UK’s top cultural and creative city. You could spend an afternoon at Tennent’s brewery, take a day trip to find the Loch Ness monster or hunt for ghosts in the most haunted places in the city. There is so much going on around the SEC, you just have to hope you get time to do it all!

Summary

The exhibition venues covered in this post are:

  1. ExCel London
  2. Olympia London
  3. NEC
  4. Manchester Central
  5. Scottish Event Campus (SEC)

This list features the five biggest and most popular exhibition venues in the UK as well as recommendations on where to eat, sleep and enjoy any time off you manage to grab! If your business is exhibiting at a UK venue, a local stand builder like Quadrant2Design can help you with designing and installing your stand as well as give you advice on the local area.

Top 8 Trade Show Mistakes To Avoid

Planning for a trade show can be hectic. It requires a lot of time and money. You need to think about things such as the size of your booth space, the booth location, budget, graphic design, brochures, and staffing

Here are the trade show mistakes covered in this post:

  1. Exhibiting at the wrong trade show
  2. Not setting the appropriate trade show budget
  3. Adding too much info into their graphic
  4. No storage
  5. Not setting goals
  6. Not marketing before the show
  7. Not bringing the A-team
  8. Not following up on leads

1. Exhibiting at the wrong trade show

There is at least one trade show for every industry. Some of the most common types of trade shows are tech trade shows like CES, beauty expos, and travel expos. You can also find the most unexpected trade shows like the Wild Deer and Duck Hunting Expo.

So, which trade shows do you exhibit at?

Here are a few factors to consider when selecting a trade show:

  • Type of trade show – Is it a consumer or industry trade show? In other words, is it a B2C or B2B trade show?
  • Type of attendees – How many attendees were at last year’s show? Who are those attendees? Are they mostly decision-makers? This is important if you are selling B2B.
  • Budget for booth space – Don’t forget that booth space is just one part of the total cost to your trade show. You need to factor in other costs such as the exhibition stand, marketing collaterals, and staff costs.
  • The reputation of the show – Journalists from the biggest media outlets will always attend the most reputable show in an industry over the less reputable one. That is an opportunity for your brand to get in front of the media. For example, tech journalists will attend CES over a no-name tech show.

You can learn more about choosing the right trade shows to exhibit at here.

2. Not setting the appropriate trade show budget

According to Exhibitor Online, 33% of exhibitors’ trade show budget is spent on the booth space. This doesn’t include the exhibition stand, staff costs, show services, and logistics.

For example, for staff costs, you have to take into account their salary, training, and accommodation. For show services, some organizers might not include utilities and WiFi into your booth space rental cost so that is something you need to factor into your budget.

Your logistics cost will differ greatly depending on the type of stand you choose. For example, if you were going for a custom stand, your shipping costs might cost a lot more compared to a  modular exhibition stand like TRIGA®. Some other logistics costs include storage, customs, and insurance.

You can read more about budgeting for your trade shows here.

3. Adding too much info into their graphic

Graphic clutter is one of the most common beginner’s mistakes, especially for first-time exhibitors.

The first type of clutter is information clutter. Designers or managers with lack of design experience would want to add as much information into their graphic as possible. They think that the more information they add, the more information they can get across to their prospects. In reality, it is the opposite. The more information you add in your graphic, the less likely your prospects are going to read them. Your prospects are just going to walk past your booth not knowing what your company does.

The second type of clutter is messaging clutter. Most of the time, their messaging is all over the place.

Here is an example of a messaging for a travel agent that is all over the place:

Cheap travel agent for students.
Luxury travel agent for retirees.
Software to help you plan your travel plans.
Financial planning services so you can travel more!

Are they a budget travel agent? Are they a travel agent focusing on luxury travel? Are they a software provider in the travel industry? Are they a financial planner?

The third type of clutter is photo clutter. They add as many photos as they can fit into their 3m by 3m booth thinking it will make it look nice and lively. However, most of the time, one very good image does a much better job than 100 images.

The solution is to sit down and brainstorm a clear and concise message that your prospects can understand within 3 seconds and combine that with a superb photo that is able to grab your prospect’s attention when they are walking past your booth. Don’t forget that there are other exhibitor booths competing for the attendees’ attention.

4. No storage

Storage is important to keeping your booth neat, free of clutter and looking professional. You need a place for your booth staff to keep all their belongings and the boxes of brochures and other marketing collaterals which you ordered for the trade show.

Here are four storage ideas for your exhibition stands:

#1 – Under a trestle table with a printed tablecloth over it. (Most affordable).

loose printed tablecloth
Printed tablecloth

#2 – Portable counter with built-in storage (Average).

TRIGA 3x3 exhibition stand with counters
TRIGA exhibition stand with counters

#3 – Built-in cabinetry in your exhibition stand’s walls (Expensive).

Exhibition stand with built-in cabinetry
Exhibition stand with built-in cabinetry

#4 – A dedicated storage room in your booth (Most expensive).

5. Not setting goals

According to Exhibitor Media Group, only 35% of exhibitors measure their trade show leads conversion rate to a closed sale.

If you don’t set goals, you and your team are most probably not going to know if the trade show was a success. It goes back to the saying, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

A goal doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as “Get 50 leads” or “Win 5 new clients” or it could even be a non-financial goal such as “Strengthen relationship by talking to 10 existing clients and 100 new prospects”.

You can read more about measuring trade show results here.

6. Not marketing before the show

The expo organiser’s job is to get attendees to the show. Their job isn’t to get them to your booth. It is your job to get them to your booth.

The mistake most first time exhibitors make is they count on hope marketing where they show up and think the attendees will walk towards their booth to learn about their products and services.

Experienced exhibitors understand this and they start promoting that they will be at the show months before the event and they keep promoting until the date itself.

With that said, 85% of exhibitors use pre-show marketing. Don’t be the other 15%.

Here is another statistic – 82% of exhibitors experienced increased booth traffic because of pre-show marketing.

You can read more about pre-show marketing here.

7. Not bringing the A-team

Your booth staff might be the most or one of the most important determinants in the success of your trade show, especially in a B2B trade show. The staff you select to man your booth will be the face of your brand throughout the show.

First-time exhibitors might hire temporary workers or interns to man their booth and their goal is to give out business cards and brochures. However, what they don’t realise is the staff in your booth will be the face of your brand during the show. Every time a potential client walks up to your temporary staffers and asks a question related to your product or business and when the temporary staffers can’t answer the question, that opportunity is gone. Getting your permanent staff to get back to them one week later won’t work.

Here are six characteristics of the ideal booth staff.

  1. They know how to qualify attendees.
  2. They know how to engage attendees without sounding like a used car salesman.
  3. They know how to extract and identify an attendee’s pain points.
  4. They know how to sell the right solution based on the attendee’s pain points.
  5. They know basic trade show etiquette.
  6. They have the right attitude.

You can more about choosing the right booth staff here.

8. Not following up on leads

After spending all that money on the booth space, the stand, and the marketing collaterals, now is time to make sure that investment goes further by following up on leads that you acquired during the show.

Salesforce Training did a survey on how many exhibitors followed up on leads acquired during the trade show. They found out that only 15% of exhibitors followed up on their leads. Out of that 15%, some exhibitors took over 50 days to do so.

A lot of salespeople expect that by exhibiting in the trade show, the clients would close themselves. However, in reality, a trade show is there to open up opportunities for exhibitors to get more clients. The sales team will still need to put in the work to close those leads. Those leads aren’t going to close themselves unless you have an extraordinary product that is out of this world and clients are banging down your door and begging you to take their money.

You can read more about how to convert trade show leads to clients here.