Meet the Experts – Exhibitor Satisfaction with Laura Bazile
Hello Laura, welcome to The Exhibitor! Tell us a little about you and your professional journey.
My professional path started in congress and conference organisation. I was the main contact for delegates coming from all over the world to attend an international science congress held in the Caribbean. My work was to ease their preparation time for almost everything: travel, accommodation, keynotes, plus the PR side of the event to spread the word about it. When I joined the b2b trade shows industry, I worked quite right away with exhibitors and/or potential customers.
What is the most common question exhibitors would ask you?
When you work for international trade shows, interaction with exhibitors is a key as you have to maintain customer service at a high level, the one which would meet most of your clients’ requirements, wherever they come from.
It’s a no brainer. The most common question was “Did I forget something? Can you help?”.
Through the years, I developed an organisation pattern that could be used by any client (new comer or loyal customer, large companies or SME). With milestones indented, next to the “what” and “why”, it became my secret weapon they all loved to be seduced with.
How early should exhibitors plan for their event?
It depends on the trade show scheme.
For international shows, potential exhibitors are coming from all over the world. Logistics-wise for instance, I would suggest to anticipate as much as possible as you would save significant amounts of money by using maritime transport instead of air freight.
Planning one year of preparation is no luxury touch. If you are working on a local project with clients based in the country where your event is held, 6 months is a minimum. Any client investing in a b2b event would search for ROI. It’s rarely a whim, a real challenge most of the time, a key step to further development for many of them.
Off the record, as event professionals we all know that we often face the challenge of selling stands a couple of weeks ahead of the show. Your professional ethic will encourage you to offer the most fitted product to your future clients (eg. ready-to-use stands).
What is the key to exhibition success?
Preparation, preparation and … preparation. Whether you refer to global budget allocated to the event or to potential customers you would reach to invite them to your stand or to any social event you will create that could bolster your communication actions.
What do visitors expect from exhibitors?
On taking my current role, I knew immediately where their tremendous success came from. We gather every single effort to make the exhibitor/visitor experience meaningful. The essence of an event is precisely that unique interaction that will emerge during the show. Any professional would nurture that, long after the event.
With that said I would say there are 2 different approaches. In a b2b environment, visitors would expect innovation and education as key indicators that the event was worth their visit. On the other side, they would also need to see there any main stakeholder from their industry. It would simply be related to the business relationship they have with that company, also to their own knowledge of the sector.
If you had to spend your entire exhibitor budget on one aspect of the event only, which one would it be and why?
Am I wrong if I say that everything is important?
I won’t lie: we all know that monitoring a budget comes with making strategic choices. Marketing campaigns, booth staffing and booth design should rank first. I would add team dedicated to secure meetings if it is not included in the “booth staffing”. Marketing campaigns are key to your exposure ahead of the show.
In a b2b context, don’t expect to sign juicy contracts with visitors who randomly come by your stand. Fuel that from your marketing efforts. Stand design is a must. I am visiting shows on a regular basis to meet new contacts or to help my colleagues as we have a huge event portfolio. I am always enchanted to discover how creativity can make things happen. Design your stand with professionals and let them know what YOU want.
You worked many years at VINEXPO – do you recommend exhibitors to use digital lead capture tools such as myfairtool?
From the experience I gained there, I would say that no one can afford to invest a show and go back home with no value added to their core business. In such a digital age, get the most of it: select the tool that would fit your team requirements AND your business needs.
Don’t forget that at some point you would reach these potential clients in a “digital manner” whether through an email, through your website or via a professional platform. Even if the ultimate goal is to meet them in person during events, in between you would have to maintain top quality contact with people you met, nurture exposure and reputation.
Start now! Why not choose an all-inclusive solution that will allow you to tag people you met, enrich your database efficiently, save time, reduce stress … and stay focused on your business?
How do you see the future? How will technology change the scene of exhibitions?
The trade show industry stepped into the digital era quite recently compared to other sectors, assuming that in “digital” language, years may count for decades.
The good news is that things are going fast now. Our industry is one of the most creative one when it comes to implement new projects or find ways to make people meet. Social media help us move up a gear.
I am confident in how the digital (r)evolution would nurture the events in the near future. Frontiers, time zones tend to vanish when you visualize how easy it is now to set up a digital conference involving people located in 3 different countries or more. Although the in-person facet of our industry is an asset, we can imagine how versatile events of the 21st century would be.
How close is “The trade Show Chronicles” to your own experience at trade shows?
Very interesting communication tool. In our industry, we are quite open-minded, working with people coming from or raised in various backgrounds. I can imagine how convenient it can be for a new comer to read the chronicles and get a better understanding of the industry.
Any additional tips for our readers?
Don’t forget the “green” side of your business. It is no longer a trendy attitude. It should be integrated more significantly in the event industry by all stakeholders.