During the recent #UFIConnects Webinar featuring some results of the latest UFI & Explori Global Recovery Study (with funding from SISO), there were a couple of questions which were notable. They were around factors visitors consider when deciding whether or not to attend an exhibition.

The number one determining factor was the quality of exhibiting companies with 71% of respondents citing it as a huge influence, and another 22% saying it has some influence. That’s 93% of visitors looking at who is exhibiting as a key reason whether or not to attend an exhibition.

Out of 9000 global respondents made up of both exhibitors and visitors, another question asked about the main things trade show organizers should focus on to encourage visitors to attend their shows. 34% of visitors sited Improving Exhibitor Quality as an important reason in deciding to attend a given exhibition, right behind personal safety (introducing strict COVID-19 safety measures) and costs associated with attending.

The 2018 Global Visitor Insights Study asked and ranked  frustrations associated when attending exhibition. The lack of quality of exhibitors was fifth (18%), tied with navigating around an event. Quality was less important than logistical concerns: seating availability, catering, queuing times and parking. For 2020, the percentage of visitors who want improved exhibitor quality has now almost doubled. This is significant and should be noted by organizers.

Traditionally organizer’s focus has been on both the quantity and quality of visitors: Did more people come to the show year over year? Did we bring in the right buyers? Were the buyers representing companies with the money to purchase our exhibitors’ equipment, supplies and services? Did they have buying authority? How much did they say they were going to spend?

If there was a decrease in visitors, we rationalized it was “quality over quantity” to exhibitors. Now in COVID-19 days, when we reopen there is no choice but to highlight quality over quantity, at least until rapid testing or a vaccine is widely available.

If we are going to compel quality buyers to come to our physical shows, then an important part of that recruitment must include quality exhibitors.

How many of you have been to a business-to-business exhibition and have seen companies selling jewelry, massage chairs, mobile phone cases/accessories, sunglasses or other kinds of products not part of the show’s industry sector? That extra few thousand dollars, euros, or yuan extra toward an organizer’s bottom line is being noticed, and not in a good way.

Consider this litmus test for accepting a new exhibiting company to your show: would they be welcome on the exhibit floor if the show was virtual? If not, as hard as it is, please say no. That decision will be noticed, only this time, in a good way.

Ease their frustration. Attract and provide your quality visitors the quality exhibitors they desire.