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Managing exhibitions, exhibitors and sponsors

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Any event planner will tell you exhibitions are without doubt the trickiest type of event to manage.

There are so many elements to juggle and more than one ‘client’ to keep happy.

A typical exhibition will involve the organiser, multiple exhibitors, sponsors and delegates. That’s a lot of different agendas, requirements, needs and expectations that all need to be met. And they all have a valid right to be heard and for their requests to be adhered to; they are all paying for the event after all!

The client

Of course your number one priority is your client, the exhibition organiser. It is their event, being held for their benefit and with their instruction and budget. They are in control and any decision you make must always involve them, have their approval and meet their objective.
It may seem like we’re stating the obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of who’s in control when you have so many other voices shouting to be heard. It’s important to have regular meetings with the client throughout the exhibition planning process to keep them up to date with progress, put exhibitor or sponsor requests to them and keep tweaking the event program in accordance. Regular communication and contact is imperative, as is using a professional project management methodology to keep all aspects of your event in order.

The exhibitors

If your client is holding a trade exhibition, they will more than likely be selling exhibition stands to those in the industry. Not only will you as the event planner be marketing and selling tickets to delegates but you may well be responsible for shifting exhibition space too. Immediately, your job has doubled.

You’ll need to work with the client to produce marketing and promotional literature specifically for exhibitors. You might want to offer tiered packages for different stand sizes and positions. As with any transaction, once an exhibitor has paid for their space, a contract is then in force and you must deliver your end of the bargain. Their consumer rights need to be met, including any reasonable requests they might have. Get your exhibitor packages watertight and set out exactly what an exhibitor will get for their money to avoid any confusion or ambiguity. Make it easier for yourself, and them, and the client by setting out the terms and conditions of exhibiting.

In the run-up to and during the exhibition maintain regular communication and make sure your exhibitors are up to speed with any last minute adjustments. Ensure they know what is expected of them and that they have all the information they might need ahead of time; details of car parking, permits, passes, access to plug sockets, cables and other audio visual equipment, catering facilities, toilets, fire escapes and meeting points, etc. Ensure the exhibitors have everything they need and a phone number on the day of someone in charge should they need any help. Have all bases covered, be organised; it will make you, the client and the exhibitors feel relaxed and confident come event day. After the exhibition, make sure you follow up and thank them for their contribution and ask for their feedback. Make them feel valued and they will likely return to your next event.

The sponsors

Sponsors can be notoriously difficult to manage. They’ve probably paid good money to be associated with your event and will want to ensure maximum exposure for their brand, control a certain amount of the wording and positioning of their copy and logo, as well as see a decent ROI. All of which has the potential to conflict with that of your client’s.

It’s worth assigning a specific person within your team to manage sponsors, and another to manage the client-side. Regular meetings between the two to address any issues will help keep both sides happy and your event on track.

As with exhibitors, it’s worth offering tiered packages to sponsors to provide varying levels of audience engagement and brand exposure. From logo inclusion on any literature and/or the event website, to full page advertorials in the event program, promotional products in the exhibition packs and even full-blown advertising boards throughout the exhibition hall, there are many possibilities for your sponsor packages.

If your client runs repeating events or annual exhibitions you should keep key sponsors close and engage them through regular communication and events throughout the year. Always remember they are paying for the event and recognise their contribution.

To ensure your next exhibition goes off without a hitch come to the professionals at Right Events. Expert exhibition managers, we can manage the client, exhibitor and sponsor side of things, co-ordinate staging, production and design, as well as delegate management and the marketing tasks.

Call us on +44 (0) 333 577 1131 or take a look around our website for examples and case studies of exhibitions we have managed in the past.

Manchester (HQ)

Right Events Ltd

Peter House
Oxford Street
Manchester
M1 5AN
United Kingdom

Phone:  +44 (0) 333 577 1131

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info@rightevents.com

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