The New Face of Trade Shows: Six Creative Strategies for Boosting Event Attendance

As live events and in-person trade shows begin to regain acceptance, some attendees may be reluctant to gather in groups. Others have become accustomed to the ease and convenience of virtual events.

If you’re planning to host a face-to-face event or trade show, you can facilitate attendee comfort and encourage attendance by following these six tips:

  1. Clearly communicate safety measures (but don’t overdo it).
    Attendees need to know that their safety is being taken seriously but there’s a fine line between communicating safety precautions and going overboard. The event’s safety measures shouldn’t be the only thing they see when they look at the invitation, website, or marketing materials. Strike a balance by outlining basic safety measures in pre-event communications and then giving attendees the option to learn more via an FAQ page or a specific contact who can answer their questions.
  2. Follow current laws, mandates, and CDC guidelines.
    The best way to make guests comfortable is by demonstrating that you’re informed about and following all the latest federal and local laws regarding vaccinations, mask requirements, and capacity restrictions. It’s also important to know rules on a local level because they vary greatly by jurisdiction. Different types of venues, such as those run by the city versus private businesses, are also likely to have different sets of rules. Make sure you and your entire team is apprised of these many regulations, are adhering to them, and are able to respond to attendee questions.
  3. Post ample on-site reminders about safety measures.
    When attendees arrive on-site, they will expect to see signage that outlines safety measures, traffic patterns, mask reminders, or social distancing requirements, as needed. While the on-site signage should be clear and readily-available, it shouldn’t be overly aggressive. The purpose is to make people aware that abundant safety precautions are being taken and to provide basic guidance, not to intimidate them.
  4. Promote interactive experiences.
    Aside from safety, one of the most significant barriers to in-person event attendance is the convenience of virtual events. Some attendees, now accustomed to online trade shows and conferences, may feel there’s little need to attend in-person anymore. The key to attracting these visitors? Promote what virtual trade shows can’t offer: real interaction. For example, if your trade show features hands-on exhibits where guests can test products and services themselves, it presents a unique and appealing opportunity. Publicizing these interactive experiences on your website, in social media and email campaigns, and other marketing vehicles is a smart way to draw people out of their virtual comfort zones.
  5. Emphasize an interesting event location in your marketing efforts.
    After more than a year at home, many people are growing eager to travel again. You can capitalize on this desire by emphasizing the leisure opportunities surrounding your event. An in-person trade show may not excite people but the prospect of a short getaway might. Promote the tourism aspects of your event location, like nearby restaurants, landmarks, and activities to emphasize the potential for fun, not just business.
  6. Don’t rule out alternative formats.
    There are situations where an in-person event attendance is the most effective way of collecting leads and engaging your audience, but there may also be times when a virtual or hybrid event is the better option. For example, they are extremely useful when many people who would normally attend in person can’t due to reduced travel budgets, pervasive safety concerns, or capacity limitations that don’t permit everyone to gather onsite.

It may take some effort to win back the confidence of guests to attend in-person events but it’s a challenge that can be overcome. The key to successfully resuming live trade shows and events lies in minimizing health risks, devising compelling new experiences, and heavily promoting the benefits.

For decades, IBC has been helping associations, unions, and non-profits maximize the return on their event marketing investments. To learn more about our proven iMIS software solutions that drive member engagement, please contact our professionals today. 

About IBC: At IBC, we have a deep understanding of the critical business needs and processes specific to associations, non-profits, and unions. We ‘get’ your culture, your goals, and what drives you, too. Focused exclusively on and dedicated to delivering the most effective AMS, LMS, and Cloud Financial Software for our clients, we’re well-versed in identifying and applying the integration techniques that will save you time and money. Since 2001, our cutting-edge products, unparalleled responsiveness, and award-winning services have helped organizations like yours increase their operational and financial performance by leveraging best practices and proven solutions. For more information about IBC, please visit the website at or call 443.603.0215.

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