According to a multiyear research project sponsored by the ASAE Foundation and conducted by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell, attendees and exhibitors have five key reasons for coming to a trade show. The information presented below will help cement your strategy for attracting and retaining these vital participants to your future trade shows.


Top Motivating Factors

These five factors are in order of the most important to the least.

Exhibitors Attendees
Promote brand Attend educational sessions
Enhance relationship with existing partners Learn about new products and services
Develop new leads Network with industry peers
Network with industry peers Attend panel discussions and workshops
Introduce new products and services Enhance relationship with existing partners

As you can see, three out of the five reasons for coming to a trade show are the same for both parties; with the basic difference being in sales/marketing (for exhibitors) and education (for attendees).

What can you learn from this if you are the show manager? Let’s look at the three motivating factors each party has in common first and explore other factors that will bring them to your next show.

Enhance Relationship With Existing Partners

Both exhibitors and attendees want to connect with and develop better relationships with organizations they have conducted business with before.

Exhibitors can invite these attendees to a VIP meeting with the president of their company or ask them to come by the booth at a specific time for a one-on-one meeting. The key is to make more time with existing clients and sell them add-on services or products.

Attendees want to feel welcomed by those same exhibitors and more special than the typical trade show attendee. Meeting with their account representative, a peek into new offerings or sponsoring a networking session for only clients are ways to help make the relationship stronger.


Networking With Peers

This has always been a contributing factor, especially for attendees. Knowing who will be at the trade show and having time with respected industry peers is invaluable to them. In addition, exhibitors like to meet and greet with other exhibitors, especially ones they can form a partnership with when marketing their solution.

Set aside different networking events for attendees and exhibitors. Use icebreakers to draw in introverted participants. Hold the networking event in unique function space, away from the trade show floor.


Introduce/Learn About New Products and Services

Trade shows are a great launching pad for new products and services. Most of the top U.S. trade shows have an element of product introduction. This is what piques the interest of attendees; they want to learn more about ways to make their company more productive and competitive.

According to Spark Presentations, the number one influence on an attendee’s propensity to buy is his or her interaction with booth personnel. Make sure your staff can “go deep” on your products and present your brand in an interesting and inviting way.


Other Influencers for Attending

According to ASAE, an exhibitor pays an average of $4,045 for booth fees, transportation, lodging, giveaways and marketing for each trade show. An attendee spends an average of $1,375 for registration, lodging and transportation.

A decrease in cost of 10 percent ($3,640 for exhibitors and $1,238 for attendees) was consistently rated as highly motivating to attend a trade show. On the flip side, both groups were less motivated to attend when costs rose 5 to 10 percent.

Respondents also favor trade shows that last two to three days. If the event is one day, they feel it is not enough time to enhance relationships and network. On the other hand, trade shows longer than three days become stale and attendance dwindles after day three.


Kalahari Has Great Trade Show Space

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions boosts over 100,000-plus square feet of trade show space and has a wealth of activities and amenities on-site for informal networking gatherings. Please give one of our group sales professionals a call at 855.411.4605 to schedule your site visit today!