Tip 69: Exhibitors in Tough Times

Many shows have exhibitors wanting to cancel because they are cutting their marketing budget and/or they do not want to have staff traveling in these uncertain times. This Tip focuses on retaining exhibitors and also minimizing downsizing and no-shows. A future Tip will discuss getting new exhibitors.

As mentioned in Tip #32, manage the exhibitor's expectations. Tell them the truth—attendance will be lower but quality will be higher. Then document this claim, such as, "We have identified the 300 power buyers who account for 72% of all widget purchases. Here is how we are targeting this group (describe) and so far 112 are registered for Widget Expo."

Next, provide value-added benefits as an inducement to stay in the show, such as a move to a better location plus an extra 10x10 for only $200 more; a free one-hour slot in the on-floor Application Theater; or access to a reception with the top buyers (see previous paragraph). Also, help them reduce their costs such as lower room rates at the headquarter hotel or a discount on their setup costs (such as lower drayage rates).

Finally, you are in this for the long haul, and not just this quarter's profits. Love and cherish each loyal exhibitor—be more like ABC Expo and less like XYZ Expo in this true story:

"We (ABC Expo) had an exhibitor whose office was 1000 feet from the WTC that was completely destroyed. They canceled our show and were paid in full so we planned to send them a full refund. They called us back last week to try to get back in the show! They are furious with (XYZ Expo) who basically told them too bad, we have your money, no refund and no discount. We have signed them up for all of our events next year! Full price I might add."