Blogger: : Stephanie Selesnick, President of International Trade Information, Inc.
IMEX America was recently held in Las Vegas. It was the sixth edition and, by all accounts, was a huge success with 12,227 attendees, of which 3,216 from 60 countries were hosted buyers. There were over 60,000 appointments pre-scheduled with 3,250 exhibiting organizations and companies.
Hosted buyers were required to hold between 8-10 pre-scheduled appointments daily (about one per half hour). They chose exhibitors they wanted to see and were able to share with them the kind of information they were looking for prior meeting in person (I.E.: RFP’s, size and type of meetings, etc.).
Exhibitors were also able to reach out to attendees that fit the profile they were searching for. This matchmaking process guarantees exhibitors some qualified traffic during the show – regardless of booth location and size, and assures hosted buyer attendees their time will not be wasted.
Hosted buyer programs take a bit more work than normal attendee acquisition, but done correctly, can be cost-effective – and good for your show. By having strict criteria to enroll in the program, qualified attendees are guaranteed to sign up early, which is great for selling more exhibit space.
Welcoming regular attendees to the show provides the serendipity of an attendee walking down the aisle and liking an exhibitor’s product or service. There may be a decision maker an exhibitor’s company has tried to communicate with, but never returned emails or phone calls, that walks up to their booth and strikes up a conversation. Or someone who is not in an exhibitor’s client database may become a customer, again by virtue of walking down an aisle or seeking out new suppliers in specific categories.
Having both types of attendees on the show floor at the same time helps ensure happy exhibitors, and exhausted but satisfied attendees. Think about trying out the hybrid model for your show.