By Hannah Evans, events sales coordinator
Exhibitions can be a valuable marketing tool for your business, providing an excellent opportunity to invite existing and potential clients to find out more about your products and services. Below are six tips that will help ensure your exhibition is carefully planned and organised, enjoyed by all of your guests and most importantly is a success, creating a return on your investment.
1. Working with the venue
Co-ordinating exhibitions can often prove to be quite daunting, with organisers caught in the middle juggling and managing the numerous requests and expectations of their own team, the suppliers and the venue. It is therefore imperative that the venue representative you are dealing with understands your remit and objectives and is flexible to your needs and requests, especially last minute ones.
2. Obtain information from the venue
Request information from the venue to assist you with the operational and logistical planning of the event. Feel free to request documents such as scaled floor plans, door measurements and table dimensions to help plan the set up of your exhibition.
Be aware that due to health and safety legislation the venue is obliged to request risk assessments and method statements for any “unusual” activity which is not being looked after by the venue, such as the installation of lights, use of ladders, furniture deliveries, etc. A method statement is simply a description of the work that is being carried out and the risk assessment lists all possible accidents that the work may cause and how to try and avoid injuries. In addition to these two documents you will be required to complete a permit to work and you must ensure that if you do bring in any electrical equipment, all items are PAT tested.
3. Clarify your requirements with the venue in advance of the event
It is important that the venue understands what you need or don’t need in the room. For example if you require clothed trestle tables for exhibitors, advise the venue where you want them and at what time.
Power and other audio visual requirements are also something that should be clearly displayed on a floor plan. This will give the venue sufficient instructions to run extension leads and connectivity to the required locations.
4. Employ a stylist
Employing a visual stylist is a great way to ensure your products and services are displayed in the best way possible. Trusting a visual expert to position the products and create a flow and style to the event may enhance the exhibitors’ experiences. They also provide added support to the team and have an impeccable eye for the finer details.
If a restrictive event budget does not permit you hiring a stylist, utilise the venue as much as you can. Often a venue has photos or information from other exhibitions they have hosted. Request this information from the event organiser- you may be pleasantly surprised how much inspiration can be gained from a previous event
5. Schedule and catering breaks
Catering is an extremely important part of the event. Quality catering at the exhibition will inevitably enhance the guest’s experience, hence it is important that not only is catering selected correctly, but the service is scheduled appropriately.
Request a menu tasting with the caterers in advance of the event. That way you can personally discuss your menu options with the organiser and the chef to ensure seasonality and fit with the profile of the event.
Exhibitions generally run over a day or an afternoon so consider when is best to offer catering. You don’t want to have food sitting out for long periods as it will tire so keep the catering times scheduled in accordance with the guest’s arrival time. It is recommended to set specific times to serve catering.
During regular meal times, it is advisable to select more substantial items to serve as guests tend to have more of an appetite. Morning coffee, afternoon tea and early evening canapés can also work to balance the flow of the food against the numbers on site.
Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that with use of buffets and bars, you will need to allow space within the room for the setup.
6. Goodie bags
Goodie bags are a great way to give your clients a promotional sample of your product to take home. Make sure goodie bags are well presented so guests are proud to carry it down the street and advertise your brand. Go the extra mile and wrap the contents of the bag (even the brochures) so the clients feel like the contents are presents. Coloured tissue paper is always a nice touch to conceal the contents.
If your exhibition budget is tight, or perhaps you want to offer something a little more personal, why not ask the venue’s chef to make a ‘goodie’ bag for you? The chef at 41 Portland Place makes delicious chocolate brownies wrapped in cellophane and stylish ribbon for around £2.50 per bag – an inexpensive but thoughtful gift for your clients with the opportunity to attach a business card or promotional brochure.
For additional tips on organising exhibitions visit www.41portlandplace.com