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CEIR report offers insights on attracting attendees

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently issued a new report, titled Attracting Attendees, that helps explore attendee preferences and how best to attract and engage them for an exhibition or at a booth.

ceirResearch results come from a recently completed study that is a repeat and extension of a project last done 10 years ago. It provides highly-valuable, up-to-date insights on how to effectively market to attendees and communicate with them on-premise at an event.

“This report provides very important, current insights to help organizers and exhibitors align their marketing approaches with current attendee behaviors and preferences,” said Nancy Drapeau, PRC, research director, CEIR. “Some long-standing practices still work today while other practices are not apt to be as effective as they were in the past. This report also highlights differences by different attendee characteristics such as age and frequency of attending.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Personal discussions are very likely to influence a prospect to attend. Ranking highest in importance for considering whether to attend an exhibition for personal discussion was email from colleagues followed by word of mouth.
  • Ninety-four percent of attendees engage in pre-planning activities, presenting exhibition organizers with opportunities to engage pre-registrants to motivate them to attend. The most popular activities include choosing or registering to attend an education session (63 percent), searching the exhibitor directory (56 percent) or registering to attend special events (56 percent).
  • When it comes to information sources relied upon when an attendee is at an event, the printed exhibition catalogue is still the most used resource among 70 percent of attendees. Only 24 percent use a smart phone/mobile version of the program. This low-usage level may be as much a function of limited availability as it is to the preference and merits of watching as smart phone and mobile device usage continues to climb and more events offer this alternative to attendees.
  • Over one-half, 53 percent, rely on information provided by exhibitors, thus suggesting an opportunity for exhibition organizers to consider offering exhibitor marketing programs to help boost attendance.

Research for Attracting Attendees was conducted by Jeff Tanner, Ph.D., professor of marketing, Baylor University, and Drapeau using a panel of exhibition attendees provided by ResearchNow.

“This study highlights the importance of knowing your audience,” said Tanner. “With the segment differences we’ve observed, organizers and exhibitors alike should be able to more effectively promote attendance.”

The study was made possible by a grant from the CEIR Foundation and is available at www.ceir.org.

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