Back to top

Data driven insights for better exhibitor and visitor satisfaction

09 July 2019

Natalie Campbell-Reid, Marketing Manager, Explori

As an organiser one of your key aims is to drive meaningful business for your exhibitors and an enjoyable experience for your visitors. Publications such as the annual Global Insights Report produced by Explori in partnership with UFI (The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry), have over 3 million responses providing the most comprehensive insights into visitors and exhibitors expectations.

Entertainment vs business needs:

The 2019 edition of the Global Visitor Insights (GVI) report asked respondents a series of questions to explore the balance between the business benefits of attending a trade show and personal enjoyment. The majority of visitors currently place little value on entertainment. Only 12% of CEOs or Directors aged 34 and under said they would spend more time at shows that are more entertaining. For CEOs/Directors aged 35 and over this fell to 6%. This suggests entertainment is not a make or break factor. Visitors are more focused on their business objectives although efforts to make trade shows more entertaining or enjoyable are appreciated:

 

Unsurprisingly visitors under 35 were significantly more likely to find the entertainment aspects more appealing than those 35 and over - with the exception of “talks and presentations delivered in different ways.” which was popular across all age groups. The 8% who found none of these appealing were almost all aged 35 and over. As younger visitors often occupy more junior positions it could be argued that the importance they place on the entertainment nature will wane as they advance in their careers. However, when accounting for seniority the trend still held true. Millennials in senior roles are likely to place a higher value on entertainment and enjoyment than their older peers of the same seniority. Though festivalisation may not be a super trend now for visitors, as the millennials and Gen Z begin to take up more of the visitor profile this will be a key area of interest for organisers and exhibitors to ensure a successful event.

Technology:

With a plethora of event technologies available, the survey focuses on which ones actually make a difference to the visitor’s experience. Respondents were asked which of the following event technologies they had used and if they improved their experience of the event.

 

The findings show tools that help visitors successfully navigate an event have a particularly positive impact on the visitor experience. Organisers see matchmaking as an area with significant potential to add value to the visitor experience and enhance ROI as face-to-face contact is an important factor for establishing business relationships. Organisers can bridge the gap with technology that facilitates, rather than detracts from face to face interaction.

Interestingly, despite the rise of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), the market is not seen as a primary target for these technologies where the exhibition sector is mature. Only 48% of trade show visitors from mature markets said they would use VR or AR compared to 77% from those markets with a developing exhibition sector. This disparity may be due to travel costs or complex visa requirements for example. As more sophisticated technologies allow for a virtual interaction to feel as real as face to face, organisers should keep a close eye on the potential impact of greater adoption.

Exhibitor engagement

From 13,000 survey responses trade show attendees said their top three objectives are:

  1. To see new products and services and to come away with ideas and inspiration (62%)
  2. To keep up to date with market trends (61%)
  3. Networking (50%)

Visitors come to trade shows to meet potential suppliers. However even at shows with over 25,000 visitors, 10% of exhibitors wanted an increase in attendee numbers and 18% wanted to improve traffic to their stand. Exhibitors at large events feel “alone in a crowd”. They are in a hall with more people than they could possibly hope to speak to and need a strategy to access them effectively.  

Data indicates that organisers can counter this “alone in the crowd” feeling with exhibitor training programmes and proactively work with exhibitors to showcase innovation and launch products. Shows that offered exhibitor training to all or most exhibitors saw a 23-point boost in NPS.

Overall, the data indicates that a in order to deliver a successful event, organisers need to:

  1. Enable exhibitors to better engage with visitors, 
  2. make the show enjoyable but not at the expense of visitor’s key objectives, and 
  3. invest in technology that helps visitors navigate the hall and make connections that matter.