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Places and spaces: How to create a positive experience for your exhibition visitors

Many people erroneously assume that all the hard work that goes into producing a successful exhibition is in the signing up and confirming of exhibitors. Although this is clearly a very important part of the process (after all, an exhibition with no exhibitors would be slightly unusual!), the success or failure of an exhibition hinges on more than just who is showcasing their wares. So aside from getting people through the door, what else should exhibition organisers consider to ensure that once in, both delegates and exhibitors have a positive and lucrative experience?

Access before and after the exhibition

One thing sure to put people off when attending an exhibition is finding an exhibition stand contractor still in the process of setting up as they arrive. Just as annoying is watching as exhibitors begin dismantling their stands on the last day of the exhibition, while last minute visitors are still in attendance. To avoid this scenario, which may also have health and safety implications, organisers should have clearly defined access times for setting up and taking down stands, outside of the exhibition opening hours.

Exhibition stand guidelines

With many companies now employing an exhibition stand designer to create their stalls, the days of standardised stand footprints are long gone. In order to avoid complete chaos, exhibition organisers need to have an element of control over the size and shape of the stands to be allowed in the space. This is also important so as to stop oversized stands causing damage to the building or other fixtures within it.

Traffic flow

The flow of traffic through an exhibition will have a massive impact on how people experience the show. Right from the start of the planning process, organisers need to think about how visitors will enter and exit the space. Whether there are to be multiple points of entry and exit or just one, attention should be given to where potential “pinch points” may arise and how these can be avoided. Buffers should be factored in around areas expected to attract visitors such as refreshment stands or the entrance to seminars or keynote speeches, and graphics and signage can be deployed to direct foot traffic in the desired direction.

Refreshments and conveniences

To avoid losing visitors to the nearest café or restaurant, exhibition planners should ensure that there are adequate conveniences and food and drink available within the venue. Many exhibition centres have a dedicated area for visitors to purchase refreshments, which is advantageous as it avoids the aforementioned “traffic jams”.

Networking spaces

Finally, although the profitability of an exhibition hinges on selling out the spaces, organisers should also be aware that most businesses commit to exhibitions not just to gain new leads for their sales pipelines, but also to meet and interactive with existing customers and partners. It is true that the modern exhibition stand design will usually incorporate space to chat with customers if they so wish, but a well thought out exhibition space should also have a neutral place where people can have ad hoc meetings or informal chats away from the booths. This could simply be grouped seating in a quiet area, or even separate rooms with power and network connectivity.

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