A question was posted recently on a trade show forum asking readers if there is a ratio of attendees to booths that can be used to measure an event’s success. I felt compelled to respond although I knew my answer to this person’s question was probably not what they had hoped for or expected. Here then was my response.
In my opinion, there is no ratio of attendees to exhibitors that would be meaningful in any way, let alone determine your event’s “success.” OK, perhaps you could devise a formula (or adopt someone else’s rule-of-thumb) for determining success, but it would only be your (i.e., the show organizer’s) definition of success. But I don’t believe that’s particularly relevant or useful. The only measurement of success that matters (again, in my opinion) is your exhibitor retention rate. Exhibitors (at least the ones that actually care about investing their marketing dollars wisely, which these days is most of them) decide whether or not a particular show is “successful” based on how they performed against their own goals and objectives.
Most exhibitors are looking to connect with a specific subset of attendees. If the folks they want to meet are there, you have done your job (and by “you” I mean you and your exhibitors because it is – or at least should be – a joint effort after all). Most exhibitors would probably be delighted if attendance was limited only to those individuals who meet that company’s own, specific qualifications. Aisles crowded with tire-kickers and others who are not (and will not be) interested in a given exhibitor’s products or services just serve to make the “haystack” larger and the “needles” harder to find.