When you're planning your exhibition presence, and especially if you're new to exhibiting, It can be difficult to know where to start, and where you should be directing your attention and your efforts.
Much advice for first time exhibitors focuses on getting a good location within the exhibition, but what many guides omit, is that these locations are jealousy guarded by the companies that have been exhibiting for some time with their large, bespoke stands. At the end of the show, these companies will probably have signed contracts for the next year.
There's a certain amount of churn: long term exhibitors dropping out, upgrades and downgrades in stand place and position, new shows elsewhere, so clearly it's well worth planning your exhibition presence at least 12 months in advance, and maintaining as close a contact with your contractors and the organiser as possible. You want to be top of everyone's list when a long standing exhibitor moves up to a larger stand, or if there is an unexpected cancellation and a good location suddenly becomes available.
Study the floor plan as soon as you get hold of it - look for industry groupings or interesting neighbours. Look for the entrances and exits, food courts, toilets and the areas around the top or bottom of staircases or escalators. All these features concentrate visitors, but in different ways. Entrance areas can be often hectic, with visitors eager to get past and into the show, whilst quieter corners may be what's needed for scheduled on-stand meetings with existing customers who are visiting the show.
A good location, good stand design, detailed planning and the right staff will get you a long way towards a successful exhibition experience, but there is no success without targets to hit or goals to reach. Make reasonable estimates and use your experience to tell you how many interactions a day your stand staff need to aim for, how many leads you want to get, how many data captures you want to make, and build targets like these into the plan. So if you envisage a lot of one-to-one information gathering, choose a location and stand design that will compliment your goals rather than work against them and create a stand with standing tables and stools in a quieter area of the show. If you've just invented what is clearly the Next Big Thing, you'll want to be front and centre and blasting your message at the arriving visitors.