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Effective Ways to Manage Exhibitor Needs

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Simple rules for managing exhibitor and vendor needs.

Image © flickr.com/popculturegeek

Convention and trade show management requires a high level of patience and planning. Patience will help you get through the first few months when only a handful of people respond to your early marketing efforts. And intensive planning will get you through the weeks before the event when the waves of registrations come in at a furious pace. Having a system to manage the needs of your exhibitors is absolutely essential for getting things right the first time. Use the tips below to create your own exhibition management strategy.

Begin with Clear and Informative Vendor Packets
Perhaps nothing is more important than communicating effectively with your potential exhibitors. With this mind, your vendor registration packets should be a treasure trove of information. Clearly describe what amenities are included with a vendor booth, and what items require additional costs. Make sure you note details such as booth dimensions, table size, and the accessibility of electric and internet sources. You’ll also want to include a place on your order form where exhibitors can opt to pay for additional tables, chairs and audio/visual components.

Provide Shipping Instructions and Options
Managing incoming and outgoing exhibition packages can be a real nightmare if you don’t have a system in place. The vendor registration packet should contain accurate information about all of the shipping options for your exhibitors. All parcels should be numbered and clearly display the vendor’s company near the address label. These two pieces of information alone will dramatically improve your organization efforts. Be sure to spell out your shipping disclaimers wisely, and encourage exhibitors to arrive with the tracking numbers for their packages.

The Importance of Traffic and Visibility
Regardless of how smooth registration and check-in goes, there will be some exhibitors who will complain about their booth position. The only way to protect yourself here is to correlate your booth pricing to traffic patterns. In other words, the best positions for traffic should cost more than the others. Reinforce this policy with a booth map that illustrates the projected traffic flow. Using this approach will eliminate a lot of the complaints you get during setup.

Always Schedule a Setup Day
Reserving an additional day of space is going to cost you more in rental fees, but the amount of headaches it will save you is well worth the price. First off, if your exhibition begins in the morning then you really have no other option. Even a small trade show of 35 vendors is going to require 3 to 5 hours of dedicated setup time. This of course does not include the time it takes venue personnel to get all of the tables and booths in place. The bottom line is that everyone will benefit from having an extra day to get organized before the show starts.

Use Live Support to Manage Problems
Nothing is more reassuring than a live person when issues arise. For this reason you should expect to have at least one support person available for every 50 registered vendors. Not only will this help you to avoid long lines at the registration table, but keeping your staff accessible to vendors will prevent small problems from turning into bigger ones. Don’t be surprised when an exhibitor decides the accommodations they ordered in advance are not what they expected. This is where your support staff can jump into action and track down the additional items that the vendor needs.

The best approach to managing exhibitors is to create a system for them to order and accessorize their booth space. It might sound contradicting to customer service standards, but forcing them to be responsible for their own needs will get you the information required to run a successful show. Of course there will always be those vendors who insist on playing outside of the rules. This is expected and a lot more manageable when you have a defined set of guidelines in place.

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