Signs. What would we do without them? Imagine our country and our roads without signs. Can you really imagine what it would be like?
What if you are planning to attend a trade show and you have no information on how to plan for your trip, or where to go once you get there? Would you feel lost, unprepared and stressed? If the show organizer decided not to post signs in order to save money, would you be angry or frustrated? How many people would you share your frustrations with? Would you want to attend again next year?
Here are 13 tips for directing traffic to create a better experience for your attendees:
DIRECTING ATTENDEES BEFORE THE EVENT
1) Website: Organize and label your event website pages to make it easy for attendees to find everything they need to know before they arrive. The event website will be your #1 pre-show communication method. It should be the hub that links all resources together so your attendees needs are met.
TIP: Be sure to go through the website as if you are an attendee. Or have a co-worker go through it, and share their experience with you to be sure that it is user-friendly.
2) Mobile App: It has become increasingly important for event information to be mobile. With over 76% of attendees deciding which exhibitors they want to see before they attend a show, mobile apps are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. If you don’t have a mobile app yet make it a priority to get one.
TIP: When shopping for a mobile app, make sure it can sync in real time on your event website and your app so that no one misses any last minute changes.
3) Email: If done wisely, you should be able to help attendees prepare by directing them to all of your informational resources.
TIP: Use buttons instead of text for linking to online resources. The fewer words you use, the more effective and helpful your email will be.
4) Social Media: Remind your attendees of these resources as the event draws closer. Social media is a great way to spread information.
TIP: Use a tool like HootSuite to better manage your social media stream and respond to questions on all channels.
DURING THE EVENT
5) Airports: If you have arranged shuttle service, signage at airports should do three things: 1) Tell people where the shuttle pick-up station is, 2) display the shuttle schedule, and 3) Point them in the right direction.
6) Hotels: All host hotels should have signage with your shuttle schedule to and from the event, the event schedule, and information on how to download your mobile app. Even better, each attendee should be given a welcome packet with all event information and resources upon check-in.
7) Venue Signage: It can be extremely frustrating to walk around, lost, at a convention center because the signage is either poor or non-existent. Investing in good signage is worth every penny. Try to think of signs as a concierge service that works all the time, no matter where your attendees are. Your General Service Contractor may be good at helping you plan your signage, but it is also important that you do a walk-through yourself with a checklist, so that nothing is missed. Only you know your attendees, and walking in their shoes before the event can help you avoid having confused attendees later.
8) Mobile App: Your mobile app should be a detailed extension of your signs. It is the “plan in the palm of your hand.” When used with the venue signage, the attendee should have access to everything they need onsite for a positive show experience.
9) Staff: Your event staff, registration staff, concierge staff, etc. should all be dressed in similar attire to be visible and easily accessible. Attendees feel more secure when they know that help is around if needed.
AFTER THE EVENT
11) Website: After the event, do NOT drop the ball on updating your website. You will be shocked by how quickly and how often attendees will check it for pictures, videos, handouts and more right after the event. You need to plan ahead how you will direct traffic from your website home page to each post-event resource visitors will be seeking.
12) Email: Attendees always appreciate it when the show organizer puts in the time and effort to send out an email thanking them for attending, and sharing the highlights of the event and resources available online. This often caps off the event and makes the attendees feel like they were part of something big, special and important. Many times this email is what will trigger them to share the event with friends and co-workers as they tell stories about their experience. It is what plants the seed for whether or not they will attend next year.
13) Social Media: This is another good way to share your resources and keep the buzz going long after your event ends. It is also a good way to encourage attendees to take surveys, post comments and tell stories about their experience at your event. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.
Although not all of these are physical “signs”, they still play a part in directing people to both the resources they need, and the resources you want them to use. If you do not effectively “direct traffic” by educating and communicating with your attendees, they might as well be driving with their eyes closed. And we all know what happens when someone drives blind. Someone gets frustrated, lost or hurt and then a press release goes out to the world.