Exhibitors are an essential partner of my association’s conference and we strive to make their conference experience a great one. Here are some ideas we have used to welcome them:
1. Set Up Help
Some of those conference banners are easily to erect with a team than a single exhibitor.
2. Thank You Tweets
Leading up to, during, and after conference we tweet our thanks to our sponsors and also share their news throughout the year.
3. Cultivate the Relationship
I connect with our exhibitors and sponsors during the year to find out their news, explore opportunities to partner, and invite them to get involved in our association in different ways.
4. Keep the Show Floor Busy
Coffee break refreshments, our annual poster competition, displays of raffle prizes, and short presentations are all scheduled in the exhibition area to keep traffic flowing to the area.
5. In Person Thanks
Our board members and staff stop by each conference exhibit to meet the exhibitors, learn about their product, and thank them for coming.
6. Helpful Hosts
Conference volunteers check on exhibitors and assist as needed. If they cannot solve a problem for an exhibitor, they go and get the conference coordinator.
7. Incentives to Break the Ice
We organize a treasure hunt to get our members visiting booths and seeking information. While our members may be partly motivated by the great prizes, the steady booth traffic lets exhibitors meet a lot of attendees. Members turn in the info they gathered for a prize, but there are also prizes hidden at each booth for pre-selected visitors (e.g., visitors number 8, 26, etc.)
Ensuring a great conference experience for our exhibitors is an ongoing project and I would welcome your ideas. Please share your successes with fellow CSAE members.
Sarah Lampson is the Executive Director of CARA and provides transformational organizational leadership to implement the association's strategic plan. Sarah's key achievements include: significantly increasing services to members, which resulted in a 25% increase in membership and a 400% increase in volunteerism in 3 years; turning an operating deficit into a surplus in first 12 months; increasing revenue 43% and stewarding the international partnership that resulted in development of Canada's first professional qualifications in the profession. You can connect with her via LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter at @lampson_sarah.
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