We, as show organizers, are the kind of people who are natural problem-solvers. It’s in our DNA. So, when we sense that our attendees are not spending as much time on the show floor as we feel they should (or, more likely, when exhibitors come to us to complain that traffic is light), we feel compelled to address the problem – as we should. But before implementing a “solution,” it’s essential to first determine what exactly is happening, why it’s happening, and what behavioral changes are desired.
When we are inclined to explore traffic building options, it’s usually because we’ve concluded that our exhibitors are not getting the ROI they need to remain loyal to our event and/or we instinctively understand the importance of continually striving to add value. The operative words here are “ROI” and “value!” Unfortunately, many traffic building efforts only serve to exacerbate the problem they were intended to solve.
If a show organizer has provided ample time (and by that I mean a reasonable amount of exhibit hours unopposed by other programming) but attendees are still not engaging with exhibitors to the degree that they (the exhibitors) feel is adequate, no traffic building “game” is likely to improve that situation. I’m not suggesting that it won’t drive traffic to the show floor, because it most certainly will. It just won’t improve the “quality” of the traffic.
If someone not otherwise inclined to visit the show floor is teased to do so by the prospect of winning some sort of prize, the result will be an endless stream of folks with no interest in the exhibitors’ products or services. Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine on sight that an individual is not a true prospect but, rather, just interested in getting a sticker. That wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that so many people pretend to be interested in exhibitors’ products or services even though they are not. I know this from personal experience, both as a show organizer and as an exhibitor.
Our exhibitors are business people who invest in our events with the expectation of achieving certain goals and objectives. They have finite budgets and will quickly shift funds from events that don’t deliver to those that do. Before I would ever implement a traffic builder of any kind, I would want to fully understand what my exhibitors’ goals and objectives were for my event and then determine (with the advice and counsel of my exhibit advisory committee) what strategies can best help them be achieved.