Some companies are just so difficult to do business with. The other day I needed information from my insurance company. I went on their website and did not find what I was looking for. So I tried calling my agent and was prompted to “Press 1 for this, and 2 for that…” before ending up in my agent’s voice mail box. I then decided to send him an email with my 3 questions, and finally, after 2 emails back and forth with his secretary, she scheduled an appointment for me to meet with my agent. Unfortunately, after all that work I still had no answers to my questions.
So, are you easy to do business with? Most service professionals would read this question and say, “Of course I’m easy to do business with. I call people back quickly and I answer my email messages within a few hours. I’m responsive!”
But have you truly reduced all of the friction involved in doing business with you? I know my insurance agent thinks he has…but as you can see from my experience, he clearly has not.
So, what can you do to eliminate the road blocks exhibitors face? Here are examples of processes that have emerged that make you easy to do business with, as they relate to the exhibition industry.
ONLINE EXHIBITOR PROSPECTUS AND MANUAL
Let your website do the work for you. Publish an Exhibitor Prospectus page on your website with all the data and information that companies need to make an informed decision on whether they should participate in your show. Make sure you include a button or link that guides them to the next step if they do want to exhibit.
Once a company becomes an exhibitor, provide them with an online Exhibitor Service Center where they can find everything they need to promote their booth, order services, plan their trip, request badges, etc. Make it a one-stop shopping experience.
SCHEDULING EXHIBITORS TO PURCHASE BOOTHS
Instead of going back and forth with exhibitors to find a day/time when you both are available, send your exhibitors a link to view your schedule online and pick their own appointment time. (Check out ScheduleOnce)
SELF-SERVE BOOTH SALES vs. GUIDED BOOTH SALES
If you want to skip the appointment process altogether, then self-serve booth sales will let exhibitors purchase booth space on your website without the assistance of a salesperson. This option opens the door for exhibitors who may be intimidated by talking to a salesperson, or exhibitors who never have time to meet with a salesperson and just want to pick their booth and go. (The new a2z platform, Version 12, also allows the exhibitor to upgrade their booth and sign their contract online, eliminating paperwork).
However, if your sales process is by appointment, how would your exhibitors like to be assisted by an Exhibitor Concierge instead of a salesperson? This approach allows the sales rep to play a more consultative role, while also making the exhibitor feel warm and fuzzy about the process. With this method, the exhibitor and the salesperson go online together to choose a booth and the salesperson reserves a booth for the exhibitor. Once the booth is reserved, the exhibitor can log in, confirm the booth, submit a payment and sign their contract all at one time, with confidence that they are getting exactly what was discussed.
ON-SITE BOOTH SALES
Another great way to make your exhibitors’ job easy is to sell booth space for the following year at this year’s event. Many shows are doing it now, and getting 70% to 80% of the exhibitors to re-book onsite. For the exhibitors, getting this out of the way and securing their space while they are at the show, saves them the trouble of worrying about it later. For the show manager, having 80% of their booths already assigned means having the rest of the year to work on selling the 20% of the floor that’s left and growing their event.
TIP: To help exhibitors who cannot leave their booth during the show, you can go to them! Bring your iPad to their booth and assign their space right in front of them. Your exhibitors will thank you for taking the time to visit them.
If a new exhibitor is interested in a booth at your show, are you easy to reach? This is another good way to use an Exhibitor Concierge. Promote the Exhibitor Concierge email and phone number in every exhibitor communication, on your website, social media, promotional material, etc. Both email and phone should be supported by a live person (not an automated system) who is capable to assist, sell, or answer questions on the spot. This eliminates missed opportunities and frustrated exhibitors.
Nobody likes paying bills, and if you don’t make it as easy as possible for exhibitors to submit a payment, your cash flow can be compromised. Not to mention all the time it takes to chase exhibitors for payments. We suggest that all exhibitor statements, invoices, and payments are handled online, in one place.
Do you try and do things for your clients that you know are of high-value to them but inexpensive for you to deliver? The result can be great value for the client and a good margin for you.
What other ways can you make your event easy to do business with?