We’ve talked extensively in our destination meeting blogs about retaining conference attendees, but the often forgotten element of a successful convention is the exhibitors.
You’ve heard the saying it costs less to retain a current customer than to recruit a new one. When it comes to exhibitors, this remains true, as well. It can cost five times as much to attract new customers (exhibitors) than to keep an existing one. Why not build a relationship with your exhibitors rather than pounding the pavement every year to replace the ones you’ve lost? While there will always be room for new vendors, be the association that’s known for taking care of all people associated with your event – from attendees to vendors and exhibitors.
How can you keep them coming back? These three tips will help take care of your exhibitors.
1.) Add Value. Money talks, and manning a booth at a trade show or convention isn’t cheap. Just to scratch the surface, there are labor hours involved, travel expenses and giveaway items. Schedule plenty of networking opportunities. Vet them for speaking opportunities and breakout sessions. Depending on the type of event, you could even consider adding a speed networking session where attendees make appointments to speak with vendors.
2.) Keep an Open Mind. A listening ear is important in retaining your vendors, and so is follow-through after you’ve heard their feedback. Go beyond a post-event survey. Go the extra mile and coordinate an exhibitor feedback group or forum. Ask for honest feedback and be ready to initiate change, where possible.
3.) Market Your Exhibitors. You’ve listed them on your programs or your conference schedule. Maybe their logo is on a lanyard, but do your attendees actually know who your exhibitors are and what services they offer? Offer vendors a series of social media posts on your social channels. It’ll give your attendees the opportunity to get to know them before the conference. You can keep the conversations going long after the event by offering vendors the opportunity to guest blog on your website.
We’d love to hear your own ideas about engaging exhibitors and retaining them. Share your thoughts in the comment section below. For more information on holding a destination meeting in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, contact our sales team.