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How to plan an exhibition

Are you wondering how to plan an exhibition? An exhibition is an opportunity to get your brand seen. At The Barista, our team of skilled mobile coffee specialists have spent the last decade at exhibition events up and down the country, adding value to stands with stand-out service and the finest coffee. That means we know a thing or two about what makes an exhibition great.

In this guide, we’re taking you through all the essential stages of planning an unforgettable exhibition event.

What makes a good exhibition experience?

Trade show exhibitions offer a unique opportunity to interact with your target market face-to-face. Make sure you’re making the most of it with a strong exhibition stand concept and careful managing of exhibition logistics and timelines.

A great exhibition experience for a brand is generally defined as one that produces a positive return on investment – whether that’s increased sales and conversions, boosted brand awareness or valuable new connections created. If you’re wondering what makes a good exhibition experience for visitors, here are a handful of ways you can make your brand stand out amongst a sea of other exhibitors at your next exhibition.  

  • An eye-catching or unique stand
  • Creating an interactive immersive ‘experience’
  • Helpful promotional materials like flyers and leaflets
  • Knowledgeable, engaging sales staff
  • Giveaways and freebies

Event giveaways and freebies

We all love a freebie – and research has found that 52% of guests at an exhibition are more likely to visit a stand if they’re offering a giveaway or freebie. You can go in so many different directions with this; tasty treats, plantable gifts like seeds and well-designed, useful items like notebooks are popular choices that offer genuine value to your guests.

We’d always recommend being mindful of sustainability here. All too often, typical exhibition swag like cheap plastic pens, keyrings and stress balls end up heading straight to landfill. The psychological implications here aren’t great – nobody wants to imagine a promotional item with their business’s branding tossed in the rubbish. So, think green and only offer items that provide genuine value to your guests.

If you’re struggling, choose freebies that will be consumed rather than thrown away or taken home to gather dust. Handing out free drinks is a no-brainer – especially something that will help perk up your guests during a long and tiring day. It’s no surprise that we think serving up free freshly brewed coffee is a perfect way to stand out at an exhibition, but did you know we can also help out with smoothie and juice bars and branded bottled juices?

If you want to avoid physical freebies altogether, we’ve seen some great ideas over the years for immersive experiences that don’t contribute to material waste – think interactive or VR games or even free massages.

Want to know more? Take a look at our blog, ‘Stand out with sustainable event giveaways’.

Designing an eye-catching exhibition stand

Are you looking for creative exhibition display ideas? If you want to make sure your stand captures the attention of attendees, getting your exhibition stand design spot-on is an important step.

If you need some inspiration, consider these creative exhibition stand ideas.

A themed stand

Create a themed environment to go with your brand message. Perhaps use plants and greenery to get across an eco-friendly message. Or if your business is based in tech innovation, go futuristic with minimalist furniture and cutting-edge technology examples.  

Interactive elements in exhibitions

Touchscreen displays, virtual or augmented reality experiences and live demonstrations all add an immersive, interactive element to your exhibition stand. This is great for encouraging participation and capturing attendees’ attention.

Unique signage

Using dynamic signage solutions is another way to stand out at exhibitions. Try something different like 3D signs, unique light-up signs or unconventional shapes that guarantee immediate visual impact.

Comfortable seating

Creating a comfortable, inviting seating area at your stand is the perfect way to encourage attendees to hang around a little longer – perfect for networking and allowing a few extra minutes for a sales chat in a relaxed environment.

Planning an exhibition for maximum impact

We’ve explored some of the key elements that make an exhibition memorable, like clever stand design and enticing product giveaways. Now, let’s look at the more crucial aspects of planning an exhibition to ensure success from beginning to end – including marketing an exhibition and managing exhibition logistics and timelines.

Managing exhibition logistics and timelines

Everyone wants visiting an exhibition to be a seamless process, but for organisations exhibiting, it requires some attention to detail when it comes to managing logistics and timelines.

  • Begin by creating a detailed timeline. This should map out each step, from your initial ideas or concept to any activities you’d like to carry out after the event – like following up on leads or creating new social media content.

  • Coordinate with any partners as early as you can in the process to ensure you have everything you need on the day. This could include event organisers, stand designers and builders, signage or printing companies, tech providers, furniture rental companies and any promotional product suppliers or catering services.

  • Before the event, make sure all attending staff are well-trained and briefed on any products or services they are showcasing. You need a team of personable, approachable and knowledgeable people on stand for maximum impact.

  • Establish some clear objectives so you know exactly what you want to get out of the event. Is it more leads? Awareness? A specific amount of sales? Having clear goals in mind will give you something to focus your efforts on when exhibition day comes.

  • Create an engaging pre-event digital marketing campaign to help generate buzz. You could use social media, your website or an email newsletter to let people know about the event and attract them to your stand.

  • For some organisations, and when the exhibition is local, a traditional offline marketing strategy could also have value. You could create printed materials like flyers or posters to let relevant local businesses or individuals know about the event.

  • Prepare for follow-up in advance. Make sure you’ve planned how you can nurture any leads, follow up on any new contacts made and share the highlights of the event across social media.

  • Once on-site, carefully coordinate site logistics with any venue staff and service providers. Ensure that all the elements of your stand are in place the day before the exhibition, if possible. This allows for plenty of time for adjustments just in case you run into any issues during set-up. 

We hope you found this guide to planning an exhibition helpful. If you want to make an impact at your next event, have you considered adding a mobile barista to your stand? Our skilled baristas not only serve up the finest coffees and hot drinks, they also create a welcoming environment that’s perfect for attracting attendees and fostering connections. Get in touch today to find out more.