5 Tips for Keeping Exhibitors and Attendees Happy


Carrying off a successful trade show calls for an event planner to keep two distinct audiences happy: vendors and attendees. It’s a mistake to focus too much on one group and disregard the needs of the other.

Vendors pay for exhibition space at your trade show because they want to convert leads into sales. It’s a matter of return on investment. Attendees at trade shows are primarily there for education and information.

Therefore, the trade show planner is partly a matchmaker. To that end, the following trade show tips will help both audiences achieve their goals, and hopefully create “connections” that turn into win-win business.

1. Pick the right venue. Match the theme, target market and size of the show to the site you choose for your event. Some trade shows require a large convention center or show area. Smaller shows can be held in a hotel’s ballroom or large meeting room. Some of the best options are properties than have large space available if needed, but are also expert at making exhibitions held in small spaces feel like a big deal.

2. Have a Call to Action. To get people to show up at a trade show or exhibition, a creative call to action before the fact is critical. Social media channels can be used to get the message out that your trade show holds value to a specific audience. It’s also a great idea to create a website for an event you are holding, or even a microsite that links to your organization’s existing website. More attendees equate to happier vendors.

3. Plan your layout. For vendors, floor plans should accommodate different sizes of booths. The premium spots are at the ends of the aisles and near electrical outlets—but all vendors should feel like they’ll get ample foot traffic. For attendees, keep in mind that multiple days of walking a trade show can be mentally and physically grueling. With that in mind, create spaces for them to sit down, eat a quick snack, catch up on emails or charge their phones. Tables and chairs are great; a lounge area is even better.

4. Host a party or event. Most exhibitors at large or small trade shows will plan dinners or small parties with their existing or potential clients. Still, the event organizers are usually expected to host a party for all the exhibitors and attendees. It’s a smart idea to plan an event right after the trade show space closes for the day. That way, anybody who hasn’t made it to the floor yet has to walk through it to get to party’s free food and beverages. Maybe even book some must-see entertainment to draw late-comers.

5. Excel at communication. Make sure vendors get an exhibitor’s kit at least a month before the event. The kit should let them know when it’s time to set up and tear down their booth, where they can load materials and any venue restrictions. Vendors will also want to know the time and date of your hosted event—so they can schedule their own client dinners. Also, provide attendees with maps of the floor space. Yes, you want them to walk the whole floor, but there are times when busy attendees are looking for specific booths.

Kalahari can help you plan a successful trade show
Our team will collaborate with you to make your trade show beneficial to both vendors and attendees. And, we’re doubling the size of our convention centers in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania! Call our sales team at 855.411.4605 to schedule your site visit today.