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  • Writer's pictureFadi Khoury

What do Exhibitors and Attendees expect from an event?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the expectations of in-person event exhibitors and visitors. Prior to the pandemic, events were typically large gatherings where exhibitors could showcase their products and services to a large audience, and visitors could attend to learn more about the latest products and trends. However, with the pandemic, events have had to be either cancelled or moved online, which has led to a significant shift in expectations for both exhibitors and visitors.

One of the major changes in the expectations of in-person event exhibitors and visitors is the increased focus on networking. Before the pandemic, networking was an important aspect of events, but it was often seen as a secondary objective. However, with the pandemic, in-person events have become a rare opportunity for face-to-face interaction and networking, and as such, it has become a much more valuable aspect for both exhibitors and visitors. Freeman has recently revealed an event research that shows this shift in expectations.

Exhibitors now place a greater emphasis on creating opportunities for networking, such as setting up dedicated areas or hosting events to connect with potential customers or partners. Visitors also value networking opportunities more and are willing to invest more time and resources to attend an event in order to make valuable connections.

The question is, how can organizers help the exhibitors and visitors reach their expectations?

The answer is data, data, data…

The beauty of events is the contained and controlled environment. All the stakeholders are contained in a single space be it online or in-person and that makes things a lot easier. The event industry has shifted towards an omnichannel experience, where the journey of registering for an event, engaging on social media, and attending the event are seamlessly connected. Attendees can register for an event online through various platforms and receive updates and information through email and social media. Social media plays an important role in keeping attendees informed and engaged before, during and after the event.

Attendees can also interact with exhibitors and other attendees through social media platforms and online communities. This allows for a more personalized and engaging experience for attendees, and provides opportunities for exhibitors to connect with attendees before, during, and after the event. The overall goal is to provide attendees with a cohesive and seamless experience from the moment they register for an event to the moment they leave, and even after the event is over. This experience comes with a lot of behavioral data that can unfold many hidden information but is yet to be properly consumed.

Communication is close to NONE

Communication is an essential aspect of event planning, and it is important that organizers are able to effectively communicate with attendees throughout the year to keep them engaged. However, not all organizers are able to do this effectively or do it at all. This can lead to a number of consequences, including:

· Low attendance: If attendees are not informed or engaged, they may not be motivated to attend the event. This can lead to low attendance, which can be detrimental to the success of the event.

· Lack of interest: If attendees are not kept informed or engaged, they may lose interest in the event. This can lead to a decline in interest in the event over time, which can be difficult to recover from.

· Increased acquisition costs: If retention is low, organizers will need to compensate by pouring more money on social media ads, while retaining existing visitors is a lot cheaper.

· Decrease in quality leads: Exhibitors participate in events for exposure and quality leads that can monetize. Engaged audience tends to be of a higher value than first time explorers.

By communication here we mean PERSONALIZED! Why would all attendees receive the same communication email when their interests are very different?

Here comes the importance of using behavioral data to create a proper segmentation based on which the communication plan is properly built.

The Networking

Segmenting attendees is an important aspect of event planning, and it can play a key role in helping attendees network. By segmenting attendees, organizers can create targeted networking opportunities that are tailored to the specific interests and needs of different groups of attendees. This can help attendees connect with others who share similar interests and goals, which can lead to more meaningful and productive networking.

Organizers can use the gathered information to group attendees together and create networking opportunities that are relevant to their specific interests. By segmenting attendees, organizers can also create more personalized experiences for attendees. This can lead to increased satisfaction and engagement among attendees, which can have a positive impact on the overall success of the event. Additionally, as attendees feel more connected to the event and the people they meet, they are more likely to return to the event in the future.

“Build it and they will come” is not a sustainable model.

First, the event industry has become increasingly competitive, with more events being held than ever before. This means that organizers need to work harder to differentiate their event and make it stand out from the rest. Simply creating an event is no longer enough to attract attendees.

Second, attendees' expectations have changed. They expect more personalized and engaging experiences. They want to be able to network and connect with other attendees and exhibitors. They want to be able to learn and grow from the event. Organizers who fail to meet these expectations will struggle to attract and retain attendees.

Finally, In the age of information, the "build it and they will come" mentality is no longer sustainable for events. Attendees have access to more information than ever before, and they have more options to choose from. Organizers need to work harder to differentiate their event, consider the format of their event, and meet the changing expectations of attendees in order to attract and retain them. This means creating a clear value proposition, providing opportunities for attendees to learn, network and engage, and leveraging technology to create a seamless experience for attendees. In short, in the age of information, organizers need to focus on providing a valuable and personalized experience for attendees, in order to make their event stand out from the rest.

P.S. This article was co-written by ChatGPT

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