Reliable Tradeshow Audit Info Important to Exhibitors

A recent BPA Worldwide research study indicates a disconnect between US-based event organizers and their exhibitors in terms of utilizing independent event audit data. Reported in a BPA Whitepaper on exhibitor ROI at tradeshow events, organizers are aware of event audits, but believed a show audit led to unnecessary costs and intrusive processes.

The BPA study set out to determine the key ROI drivers for event exhibitors, the extent to which verified attendance and demographic data would influence exhibitors to add an event to their plan, and the extent to which exhibitors hold show organizers accountable for delivering on promises of audience quantity and quality.



According to Forrester Consulting Services for American Business Media, of marketers' budgets in 2007 Only marketing communications (17%) and online advertising (16%) drew more ad dollars than trade shows and events. Face-to-face events made up 15%. While events trailed slightly in terms of ad dollars spent in the marketplace, Forrester reports:

  • 60.9% of marketers considered face-to-face exhibiting as the best means to effectively build brand image
  • 62.9% indicated in-person events are considered the best tactic to generate qualified leads

Data from Exhibit Surveys, says the report, shows "traffic density" has shown a consistent downward trend to approximately 2.3 attendees in 2007 from a high of over 3 a decade earlier, while 40% of the survey respondents indicate that traffic to exhibits has decreased in just 2008. However, ESI reports "audience interest factor" has increased significantly to near 80% in 2007 from an interest factor of around 50% during the same period.

Key study findings:

Attendee audience quality in terms of purchase influence/buying power, according to 46% of the respondents, is rated the number-one factor when deciding to exhibit at a given event, followed by:

  • 44% saying a show's past success
  • 41% saying topic/theme/content focus

Attendee audience quality in terms of purchase influence/buying power is more important to:

  • 61% of CMOs
  • 55% of VP/Director of advertising/marketing
  • 34% of marketing managers
  • 41% of exhibit/event managers

Among smaller companies, attendees' purchasing/buying power rated as the most important factor when deciding to exhibit, while companies with over $100 million in total revenues reported a show's past success as more important than attendees' buying power.

The highest ranked tools in the process of choosing to attend a given show involve:

  • Historical performance/exit surveys (63%)
  • Exhibitor-supplied promotional materials (59%)
  • Input/references from other exhibitors (58%)
  • Tradeshow/event audits (41%)

Broken out by title:

  • 61% of exhibit/event managers use tradeshow/event audits more than other titles
  • 68% of CMOs put the most trust in input/references from other exhibitors audits
  • 50% of the responding CMOs use independent audits to investigate events and tradeshows

Survey respondents indicated that exhibitors derive a number of benefits from trade shows and events. For example:

  • 65% of CMOs viewed higher-order benefits as the most important perceived result
  • 41%  of CMOs say building/expanding relationships with existing customers as the top payoff at a tradeshow
  • 42% of sales managers say lead generation
  • 46% exhibit/event managers indicated lead generation as the top benefit

Company marketing budget size also plays some role in the perceived benefits of tradeshows. Smaller companies, revenues of less than $1 million annually, see tradeshows as a way to generate leads (56%), but larger companies view them as a means to leverage relationships they already have.

94% of the respondents rate exhibit positioning on the show floor as the top-tier factor to help assure exhibitors' ROI/ ROO at events.

  • 85% say marketing promotions before/at the show
  • 91% think tradeshow booth design

74% say staff training is significant among the second-tier factors to assure ROI/ROO:

  • 79% say planning
  • 60% say event audits

Tools most frequently utilized to measuring exhibitors' ROI/ROO:

  • 82% say the number of qualified leads
  • 74% booth traffic
  • 59% costs vs. return analysis
  • 9% ranked exit surveys at the bottom of the list

The report concludes that companies are planning to exhibit at fewer shows next year and will be more selective in which shows they do exhibit. Since face-to-face events are considered the most expensive among all media platforms, exhibitors will require trustworthy attendance data from their event organizers on which to base their decisions and formulate their ROI

For more information about the "BPA Worldwide Research Study: Determining Exhibitor ROI At B-to-B Tradeshow Events" please visit their website here.



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