When signing up exhibitors or sponsors for events your objective as an event manager is to sell a booth or an event sponsorship. While landing a sponsor or selling a booth is exciting, event managers tend to forget to think through what they need from an exhibitor. A check and some contact information may not be enough, especially if the sponsor or exhibitor is attending the event. If you don’t have all the necessary information it can lead to added expenses on the event, such as having to order extra last minute meals, or can cause confusion as to what the Exhibitor or Sponsor is expecting in return for their investment in your show. All of these headaches can be avoided by adding some additional information to your exhibitor registration forms. Here are five things that you should have on your exhibitor registration forms to help make registering exhibitors and speakers easy.
- Define what they are paying for – For exhibitors purchasing a booth, make sure you clarify what the booth size is, what you provide for the fee, and what additional costs there may be. For example, an 8 foot booth might come with a table top, a chair, and draping around the table but electricity to the booth for PC’s , Internet Access, additional chairs, or trash bins may be an additional charge. Allow the exhibitors to clearly understand any add on items and be able to purchase them at the time of the registration. Also, if they get free signage or a listing in the Event Brochure, make sure that is clear, and give them a place to enter the text they want in the brochure. Gathering all of this at the time of registration makes it easier on you when you have to coordinate with the hotel or center where the event is being held.
- Decide if you want to have staff register with the booth or separately – Most exhibitors send people to staff the booth and the expectation is that these people will be able to attend certain functions at the event. You need to decide if buying a booth entitles staff to attend sessions at the event and meals, or if they need to pay for attending those items. You need to decide if they should register when the booth is requested or register with the other attendees if they want to come to the session. Whatever your decision, make sure it is clear on the Exhibitor form what the staff can and cannot attend, so you do not get caught with unexpected expenses from people who should not have attended a function.
- Make sure that Exhibit booths and Sponsorships have limits – If you have items that only one person can sign up for, then make sure that your registration system can turn off an item once that limit of 1 is reached. If there are a finite number of booths available, make sure that no one else can sign up once that limit is reached. An event registration process that cannot stop extra registrations from happening can produce an enormous amount of extra work and clean up. This can cause you to have to make uncomfortable phone calls to your exhibitors and sponsors to clean up duplicates.
- If possible, let exhibitors see the Exhibit hall layout when they choose booths – A robust event management and online registration system will have a means to display a booth layout chart. This chart is a picture of the exhibit hall that can show your exhibitors how you have booths laid out. Ideally the exhibitors will be able to see the booths and their numbers so they can indicate on the registration form which booth they would like to rent. You might also consider asking them to pick three choices,( 1ST, 2nd, 3rd) so that you can assign the final choice and have some control over preventing competing companies from ending up next to each other. Too often, when the exhibitors choose their own booth rather than being assigned to them the exhibitors get themselves into trouble.
- Hit Your Exhibitors Three Times – The exhibitors usually sign up early and by the time the event comes around they may not remember the details. A great rule of thumb is to make sure to hit your exhibitors with information three times. Make sure you put all the necessary information once on the registration form, once on the confirmation page, and again in the confirmation email. Any rules that the exhibit hall has about where to send booths and materials, or when they can set up and tear down for example, should be put into a downloadable document and linked to in the confirmation page and confirmation email. This way when you learn something new halfway through the registration process, you can update the online document file and use your event system to send a note to the exhibitors with a link to the updated document.
Exhibitors and Sponsors have different expectations for an event. They are more likely there to sell or promote than they are to learn. As an event manager, you need to make sure that your exhibitor registration process and the information you provide support them and their goals. With the help of online registration software, this task can be done easily. To learn more about Speaker and Exhibitor registration features, take our online tour!