Stephanie Selesnick, International Trade Information, Inc.

Many interesting facts came out of the UFI/Explori Exhibitor and Visitor Insights over the last couple of years, among them that the largest attrition for both exhibitors and visitors happens from years one to two and years two to three. (LINK:

It costs significantly more to recruit both new attendees and exhibitors. So, what’s an organizer to do? Here are some suggestions.

For Exhibitors:

Offer furniture and marketing packages. Chances are good that your first-year exhibitors are either moving from a “new business” area or from a 10×10 (9m2) booth. Make the ordering of furniture, electricity, etc. and drayage (getting their booth materials to and from the loading dock to the booth) easier. Offer a reasonably priced marketing bundle that includes pre-show, at show and post-show offerings to help drum up attendee interest.

Continue their education. As we learned in the above mentioned UFI/Explori study, exhibitions that offer quality education have a higher NPS score than those who don’t. (As a reminder, the average for exhibitions is a -17 – the same as banks!) I’m not talking about an onsite exhibitor education seminar. Those are ineffective. Start 6 months out (or longer) before the show. Offer on-demand webinars, articles and even phone calls from customer service representatives to discuss goals and tactical execution to make them a reality.

You made these new exhibitors feel special the first year. Don’t abandon them the second. Or third.

For Attendees:

Remember those “new attendee” packages you offered for first-timers? Guided tours, special receptions and the like? Continue them. Offer discounts on educational sessions and invite them back to the first-timers reception. They’ll continue to feel special – and guess what? They’ll impart the knowledge they learned to the newbies! If you can, offer it the third years as well and watch your horrible attrition rates become a thing of the past.

Do these programs cost money? Yes. More than what it’ll cost you to replace the second- and third-year exhibitors and visitors? No. Invest in them like you want them to invest in your show.