Every year has its own highs and lows, but for us at a2z, it was a memorable and exceptional year in more ways than one. We added many new and powerful solutions to our portfolio that have already started garnering high ROI for our clients. Hearing many wonderful success stories from our clients and partners through the year has only reinforced our belief in serving the whole ecosystem and looking at the big picture first. So, as we look back at the year, here is a part serious, part fun a-2-z look at some of the very many high points of the year.
With this series of blog posts, we are sharing the many different ways in which a2z’s solutions serve your exhibitors to help them grow their businesses as well as your events. In Part 1, we described how a2z speeds up the booth reserving and buying process, facilitates early and continued access to sponsorships, and enables show organizers to communicate with exhibitors seamlessly.
Here are other a2z power features that bring additional efficiency and increased ROI to exhibitors:
Single Point Access through Exhibitor Console
Exhibitors use a secure self-service portal in the a2z-powered event website to not just update their online and print directory information, but also to access many other aspects of their event participation. They can buy enhanced visibility opportunities, pay their invoices, upload multimedia content and provide custom info. The console also gives them direct access to secure matchmaking and scheduling features so that they can network with attendees effortlessly. They can even access links to the registration or GSC website seamlessly from the console. a2z clients frequently commend their system for saving time since exhibitors can better access their information online, reducing need for customer service. This is how International Sign Association described their exhibitors’ new and improved experience:
“They love logging in, paying online and printing a floor plan.”
Learn more about the responsive, integrated console for exhibitors:
Ability to Submit Additional Info & Designate Contacts
Show organizers are able to collect custom and additional info from exhibitors through easily configurable input fields. This may include critical info such as (but not limited to) membership status, new or returning exhibitor, languages spoken in the booth and export interests. They are also able to collect exact information on contacts associated with different contact types (billing, primary, etc.) from exhibiting companies during the sales process. These features significantly enhance customer service provided to exhibitors by eliminating various spreadsheets and databases commonly used for tracking various pieces of information about exhibiting companies. This is exactly what the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons experienced and shared with us:
“[Time savings of an estimated 50 to 60 man hours] freed up more time for other projects and working with customers.”
Excellent Pre-show Visibility
By making it easy for exhibitors to identify their best matched buyers, and communicate with them securely ahead of the event, a2z has brought a paradigm shift in how exhibitors engage with attendees at events. By enabling exhibitors to answer buyers questions as well as scheduling meetings ahead of the show, show organizers using a2z’s solutions are able to provide much better and many more qualified pre-show leads to exhibiting organizations. When exhibitors can launch into their business pitch and showcase their solutions to targeted buyers without first having to figure out each attendee’s buying interest, they save time, connect better and significantly increase their ROI from the event. Add to this the ability to buy enhanced eBooth listings and digital promotional opportunities as well as to access an easy-to-use eBooth promotion widget to engage their own audiences, and you have the perfect ingredients for facilitating a winning experience for participating companies. The International Supply Association described it the best:
“[Participants] get to set their own appointments so they can choose who to meet with. Exhibitors know they have pre-scheduled appointments and it helps to take some of the pressure off of exhibiting.”
Learn more about providing enhanced pre-show visibility to exhibitors with a2z:
Ever since the launch of the first version of a2zShow Exposition Management & Marketing Solution, one of the key areas of focus for a2z has been the exhibitor experience. Brands and companies invest a significant amount of time, effort and finances in exhibiting at events. In return, they expect streamlined processes, simplified access to resources, increased visibility to attendees and high ROI on their investment.
There are a multitude of ways in which a2z’s features support exhibitors through the show cycle. In fact, starting with space book and going beyond the actual event, it’s a continuous process that transitions smoothly into the next event.
Here are some of the key ways in which a2z brings a superior exhibiting experience to participating organizations:
Speedy Booth Reserving and Buying Process
The a2z system can be configured to adapt to many different booth reservation and sales processes. On a high level, depending on the flavor selected, exhibitors can be provided access to the following features to streamline and expedite the booth sales process:
– Select a booth in a preferred location and in their desired dimensions
– Indicate which companies they prefer to be near or far from on the exhibits floor
– Verify/provide their company and contact information
– Benefit from as well as automatically accrue priority points
– Agree to terms and conditions, and sign a contract online
– Pay for the booth online, submit a deposit or agree to pay by check
All of the above features are available within the e-commerce enabled event website, which is fully responsive, enabling exhibitors to complete the entire booth selection process using any device (web or mobile) and from any location around the world.
Clients who have adapted a2z’s Online Exhibit Contract Management solution report increased efficiency along with significant reduction in wait time for exhibitors. This is how HIMSS commended their a2z-powered solution and its impact on their program:
“With a2z’s Online Exhibits Contract Management technology, our booth selection process improved not only on-site but throughout the year. It’s more user-friendly, offers more features, is better visually, and is quicker and easier both for the exhibitors and for us.”
In fact, we often hear from appreciative exhibitors as well. For example, this is what an exhibitor had to say about American Optometric Association’s booth selection process:
“I just wanted you to know what a great system you have. I kept viewing the floorplan as it was updating to prepare my options, I was able to log in the exact time of my appointment and was ready, and I was checked out in a minute or less. Kudos to you! Thanks for making it easy for your customers.”
Learn more about streamlining the booth space selection process using a2z’s technology:
Early and Continued Access to Sponsorship Opportunities
Using the a2z-powered event website, exhibitors can easily access and purchase various sponsorship opportunities configured and bundled by show organizers. Each sponsorship item is accompanied with detailed information, including descriptions and graphics. Using the secure e-commerce features in the event website, sponsoring companies can pay online using a credit card or opt to request an invoice from the show management.
Just as with the online booth selection process, exhibitors recognize the importance of being able to access and opt for enhanced visibility opportunities online without having to jump through hoops. Show organizers have also given us appreciative feedback on how this feature has accelerated their cash flows. This is what J. Spargo & Associates shared about their experience selling sponsorship opportunities to exhibitors at multiple events:
a2z’s new Online Sponsorship Sales module made it easy for our customers to review sponsorship opportunities and purchase them online as part of the process for selection of their exhibit space. The real benefits to us were in the time savings for staff and acceleration of the sponsorship sales cycle and cash flow. The sponsors also loved the ease of use and improved flow of information.
Learn more about using leveraging online sponsorship sales solution for your event:
Streamlined Communications from Show Management
Throughout the show cycle, exhibitors receive a number of template-based communications from the show organizers which help them stay on top of important deadlines as well as the immediate next steps. These include, but are not limited to:
– Booth Space Confirmation Email
– Missing Exhibitor Information Email
– Move/Reconfirmation/Cancellation Email
– Booth Selection Program Invite Email
– Invoices/Payment Reminder Email
Automated features in the a2z solution help show organizer send emails in bulk or individually to select exhibitors, saving hours of work and eliminating errors.
Learn more about communicating with exhibitors using your a2z-powered admin system:
Having been on both sides of the booth (from exhibitor to show manager), I have seen the increasing demand to maximize face time between buyers and suppliers. More and more shows are looking to add a hosted buyer component to better match these two audiences. While every Hosted Buyer Program (HBP) is slightly different, implementing one for your show can probably deliver big results very quickly.
My first hosted experience was as a buyer. To be honest, I was skeptical. I couldn’t pick exactly who I wanted to meet. I was going to be meeting with suppliers I might not be interested in and worst yet, I would have to sit for hours in the booth as each supplier came to me. Sure, I was getting my entire trip comped but I had my doubts.
My first appointment (a company I had never heard of) arrived, and I was ready to introduce myself and explain my company’s business. The supplier sat down and immediately shared how much they already knew about my company and why they would be a great fit. We were already down to talking business in the first few minutes, and I had never heard of or considered this company before!
After several similar experiences, I realized what I thought would feel like hours actually went by quickly. I learned about many new solution providers, all within the comfort of one place. I didn’t have to take a sales call from a company I had never heard of or spend more than 15 minutes with each supplier (unless I wanted to, as a follow up). I was hooked. I walked away with better relationships with companies I already knew and started created new business connections with others I would have never met otherwise.
Time is valuable for both sides of the exhibition equation, and I am excited a2z is launching a Hosted Buyer Program management solution that will take all the pain out of matchmaking and scheduling HBP appointments.
If you have never considered hosted buyer, now is the time. Contact your a2z account manager for additional information.
More to explore:
We are excited to announce the launch of a new section – Industry Spotlight – on this blog! Beginning this month, we’ll be showcasing leading personalities who are bringing innovation and growth to the events industry through their forward thinking and creative initiatives.
Karen Miller, CEM
Director of Exhibits and Sponsorships
National School Boards Association
With extensive experience in all aspects of conference and meeting management, Miller is responsible for the direct exhibition sales, marketing, and operations for the conference and meetings department at NSBA.