Having Questions ‘Answered on the Spot’ a Unique Value of Physical Exhibitions

Having Questions ‘Answered on the Spot’ a Unique Value of Physical Exhibitions

This post written by Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Research Director

CEIR has updated two studies in the past year furnishing current insights on what attendees want from exhibitions, what they value most about these events and how to market to them effectively.

These studies affirm that a major driver for attending is an interest in keeping up-to-date with all things new, new products, industry trends, as well as the chance to interact with those products and with industry experts, the people behind the products.  Beyond these drivers, another objective emerged that is important to keep in mind.

Interesting results were uncovered when analyzing thousands (I’m not kidding) open-ended answers to the question, “In thinking about the different face-to-face interactions you have experienced at exhibitions, what about these interactions is most valuable to you today that you anticipate will continue to hold value to you in the future?” One theme that emerged is the importance and value placed on the opportunities to engage in dialogue, and one phrase that came up a number of times was ‘having questions answered on the spot.’

Given this result, a new objective was added to the list of objectives rated for their importance as reasons for attending in the survey What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions. This reason achieved fifth ranking in importance as a shopping need. Top ranked before this objective are those one would expect: interest in seeing all things new, interacting with product and talking with industry experts.

Let’s reflect on the significance of this result, the importance placed on having questions answered ‘on the spot.’ This need impacts exhibit staffing, who should be in the booth by job function, the depth of product knowledge they need to have, the ability to listen and to give answers tailored to each individual attendee.  It also has implications for exhibit staff training.

Exhibitors tend to have sales and marketing staff in the booth, and perhaps executive management. It is less frequent that technical roles are represented. Are exhibitors missing a major opportunity to connect with attendees by excluding technical staff? Are they missing important market feedback that can result in product enhancements or new products?

It also suggests that although a canned, elevator speech is important to have, it is not enough. A deeper level of product knowledge and ability to respond to a wide range of questions attendees may pose are also required. Essentially, this need speaks to the importance of using a consultative sales approach, listen first and provide answers after.  Those exhibitors who follow this approach position themselves for success.

So, if you are an exhibitor, are you staffing your booth effectively? Do you have an exhibitor training program and does it offer training to help them successfully answer questions, ‘on the spot?’ Make sure you are positioning your organization’s exhibit program for success!

Provided is a listing of relevant reports cited from the two studies:

Exhibition Staff Practice Summaries

How to Attract Attendees

Trends in Use of Exhibitions

What Attendees Want from Trade Exhibitions

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