Special Report on Conferences and Exhibitions: Making a stand is all a matter of organisation: You've booked the space, but will the visitors come? Ideas by Peter Cotterell

TAKING an exhibition stand is one thing but unless potential buyers come and see it, all the effort, not to mention money, is wasted.

Of course there is the argument, a perfectly logical one, that getting visitors to an exhibition is the job of the exhibition organisers, who after all are selling an audience, and at a not inconsiderable price. It is, it is said, the exhibitors' job to make sure that visitors come to their stands.

There is truth in this, and with a well-attended exhibition the exhibitor can concentrate on picking a good site, designing an attractive and compelling stand which communicates the benefits of the product or service loudly and clearly, and making sure that staff are properly trained to capitalise on all the advantages that a well- thought-out participation in a well-promoted show can bring.

Sadly, visitors are not flocking through the doors. This may be due to the recession but is almost certainly another manifestation of a dwindling response to trade press advertising, direct mail shots and PR-based advertorial that seemed to work so well during the boom years.

Some exhibition organisers, aware of the increased difficulty of getting anyone to turn up for anything (and this includes conferences as well as exhibitions), are relying more heavily on invitations distributed to potential customers by their exhibitors. For trade events, more than half the visitors attend because of an invitation from an exhibitor, rather than an organiser. Indeed, there are those organisers who will argue that any exhibitors not spending more of their own money in this way, having booked and paid for a stand, have only themselves to blame if they don't see any suitable visitors.

For those exhibitors happy to subsidise their organisers' visitor promotion there are some useful ways this can be done, with benefits to both parties.

Once the space is booked obtain tickets and get the sales force to distribute them to customers, or mail them out with bills.

Draw up a 'hit list' of the best potential customers and telephone them all to invite them to the show, preferably specifying dates and times.

Run a special event at the show to attract potential customers - a seminar, or a hosted breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Announce the launch of a new product or service at the show.

Offer a special exhibition discount.

Run a prize draw for all customers coming to the stand.

Concentrate on sensible and serious, rather than fatuous, PR. A serious demonstration of an important new product will ultimately pull in more business than silly gimmicks which commonly attract crowds of 'tyre-kickers'. Having said this, don't ignore the possible advantages of a visual and dramatised presentation that will attract press coverage.

Consider using a famous person in the industry to endorse something on the stand. Or a famous author to sign copies of a book, given away or sold.

Consider a relevant on-stand competition that highlights a feature of the product. Polaroid once invited visitors to try to 'freeze' objects printed on a rapidly spinning wheel, with a Polaroid camera of course.

Dare to be different. One exhibitor with all-male clients sent out solid silver monogrammed cuff-links to 50 top potential customers. The trick was that only one cuff-link was sent - customers had to call at the stand to collect the other one.

Another exhibitor sent customers an incomplete pack of 48 high-quality advertising playing cards and told them: 'We've got all the aces - come to our stand and collect.' Most did.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone