In the second of our hospitality and events hints and top tips, here’s an overview about getting the best from a shared stand, some etiquette around sharing and understanding that it’s as much about shared responsibility as it is about shared opportunity.
Collaboration is not just about rocking up five minutes before curtain-up, expecting everyone else to do the work. If your stand share is going to work, then you must show mutual respect for your co-habitees.
It’s a good idea to approach stand-shares with a broader perspective. Leeds had a city-wide stand at our show and it was a great example of collaboration and universal thinking for all involved. You may not be the host or win all of the hotel bedrooms for a specific event, but you can still benefit through a partners’ programme. Essentially, a win for the city is a win for all, so engineer your thinking towards less of me and more about us.
Successful stand share does mean that you will have to reign in some of your more competitive urges and embrace what’s good for the collective. This doesn’t just apply to the actual expo date, you need to get into this mindset well before then and embrace it at the planning stage – trust me, you will get far bigger and better shared returns if you do.
Start as you mean to go on and begin sharing right up front. If you can share a stand, what else can you share? Can you pool your marketing budgets together? Take it a step further and have dual branding and go for a bespoke design that gets your brands to complement one another instead of clashing. Don’t forget the greater good here, your joint aim is to get visitors to your stand, so make sure what they see is appealing.
And speaking of visitors to your stand, there are a few things that you can do to make sure your spot looks like the place to be. Write to your client database and invite them along. Plan an organise something collectively like a drinks reception that you can host jointly and share the cost. Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd - if visitors enter the expo and see a lot of activity at your stand, you can almost guarantee they’ll make a bee-line to you because, they’ll want to know ‘what’s the craic?’
Make sure that you have agreed your joint messaging beforehand. What’s your combined purpose and key gain? Talk about the wider offering and broaden your thinking to a destination message, it’s not just your venues but a huge choice of top-class venues, activities and attractions. You have to widen the conversation, it must be more than the number and quality of beds you have on offer!
If it’s an exhibition that has a hosted buyer programme, make the most of your opportunity. Make sure there’s a welcome gift and card in the room. If you can request invitations to your stand. Do your homework and research before the event. If you go to any major event it’s easy to spot who has done all their legwork and heavy lifting long before the event. It’s the delegates with back-to-back appointments, no gaps or pauses, and guess what, it pays dividends for them!
Have a collective set of rules for everyone involved in your shared stand. If it’s no laptops, no phones, no food or drink at the stand, then make sure that everyone follows this and that you are leading by example.
Be strategic across lunch breaks. If the drinks stand or tipi tent is heaving, then it makes sense for you to send some of your crew over there and network whilst they get a bite to eat. They can also work on getting people to your stand or walk them back when they’re done. BUT and this is an important one, make sure there’s always someone with your stand.
Be pro-active and make sure that you have a crib sheet about all the exhibitors on your shared stand. If one of them is unavailable, then you should be able to get their key points across if you’ve agreed them beforehand and got them on a one pager that people can take away with them. Also make sure that you have everyone’s contact number, so you can call them back to the stand if they have a hot lead. (please ignore previous note about no phones at this juncture, what I mean is, no playing Candy Crush whilst you have lots of footfall!)
Be mindful about the new rules around GDPR and have a shred policy about getting permissions to share scanned badges, so that everyone knows and follows the new rules. Equally, make sure that you are all signed up to the same set of health and safety rules to avoid any confusion.
Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, have the right people on the stand, and if necessary, get some training about getting the basics right beforehand. I have to be open and honest about this, there is a skill to working on a stand, so let people know what to expect and in turn, what’s expected of them. You need an outgoing personality and be able to be engaging and unafraid to ask questions. If you’d prefer to look at your own shoes all day long, then this probably isn’t for you!
Stay to the bitter end and don’t start packing up whilst the paying public is still in the venue. Do your bit and remember that there is a get out as well as a get in to any event, so don’t be at the bar ‘networking’ and leave your co-collaborators to do your tidy up. Not good etiquette so don’t expect another invitation if you have been guilty of this behaviour.
You’ve made a big investment so make sure that you follow up correctly. Be mindful that if it’s a group stand,
you combine your efforts in the follow up. Why not combine your efforts with a shred email and combined offers etc. Getting the timing right is really important so make sure that you allocate time to do this properly. Put it in your diary before hand and block out some serious time.
I hope you find these hints and tips useful and that they help you get the most from your events. All the best and we’ll be back soon with more expert insights.
Emma Cartmell, CEO for CHS Group