A good trade fair will attract large numbers of businesspeople. However, if exhibitors themselves do not actively promote their presence, they will miss out on making new contacts which can be the difference between failure and success. Often enough (small and medium-sized) companies do not pay enough attention to visitor promotion because they lack the means or the knowledge to carry out effective promotion. However, exhibitors should be aware that visitor promotion is vital, even conditional, for the success of the participation. Let’s look at some convincing arguments.

The visitor’s objectives

Whereas for the exhibitor making new contacts is in most cases THE number one objective when they participate in a trade fair, for visitors of the  trade fair making new business contacts comes in sixth place as their motivation.

…% of trade fair visitors want:

48% Information about new products

41% General market orientation

34% Further training, extending knowledge

29% Exchange of experience, information

26% Cultivation of business contacts

23% Making of new business contacts

18% Monitoring the competition

17% Preparation of decisions

12% Exerting an influence on product development

7% Concluding contracts, purchases

Source: Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, representative survey at 49 trade fairs

As you can see, you have to make your target audience want to visit you.

The visitor’s agenda

The average stay of visitors at big international fairs is one day for national visitors and two days for foreign visitors. Given the size of these trade fairs, the number of exhibition halls and the huge number of stands, visitors to these fairs plan their visits. They would not have the time – nor would it be effective or efficient for them – to just walk and look around, hoping to spot something or someone of interest. On the contrary, trade fair visitors decide up front who they will visit. They make a plan and most likely they do not have the freedom not to stick to it, making it improbable that they will bump into you by coincidence.  As a consequence, for meeting new buyers you have to get yourself onto your target visitors’ agenda.

The visitor’s decision who to visit

Why do trade fair visitor visit specific exhibitors? The answer is a s follows.

Decisive for …% of the visitors are:

42% Existing business contacts

30% Potential business relationships

24% Written invitation from the exhibitor

16% Mailing of company or product information by exhibitor

12% Advertising by the exhibitor of his participation on the internet

11% Advertisements of the exhibitor in the press

10% Admission ticket voucher from the exhibitor

Source: Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, representative survey at 49 trade fairs

As you can see, for 24% of the trade fair visitors, a written invitation is the reason to visit a specific exhibitor. Should your invitation convince your target visitors of business potential, you can even increase your chances of them coming to your stand to up to 30%.

In part 2 of this blog you can read what makes a convincing invitation and you’ll find a model to test how good your invitation is. Click here to read part 2 of why and how to invite visitors.




Published: 7 December 2021

Author: Ton Willemse, international business consultant

Intraservice BV, Nederland


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