How to Plan an Expo That Attendees Love

How to Plan an Expo That Attendees Love

Why are attendees coming to your consumer show or expo? The reason might not be what you think.

In the past, attendees showed up to expos for one reason: to find a wedding dress, to test drive cars, or to buy a new home. But now, they’re looking for more: they want to connect with friends, interact with your sponsors, or just check out a new venue.

This means you can’t just sign up a bunch of on-topic vendors and call it a day. To meet attendees’ new expectations, you need to take your event to the next level. Here’s how to plan an expo that’s truly tailored for your attendees.

Get the right vendors

In a Blast The Community survey of 300 expo attendees, 53% said that vendors are a deciding factor in whether to attend an event for the first time. Vendors and exhibitors can either ruin the day for your attendees or elevate the experience. Go for quality over quantity.

53% of attendees say that vendors are a deciding factor to attend a new expo


If you’re not sure which vendors to choose, here are three ways to make sure you secure the vendors your attendees care about most.

  • Conversations: You’ll get some of the most valuable feedback if you ask directly for the information. What better way to do it than by just talking to attendees on the showroom floor? Instead of asking them what they thought of your exhibitors, ask them who they want to come back next year — and why.
  • Surveys: Another way to collect feedback is through a post-event survey. SurveyMonkey is an intuitive tool that will let you assess the quality of your vendors — from your attendees’ perspective. Ask questions like “What vendors would you like to see next year?” and “How would you rate these vendors?”
  • Social media: Social media is a powerful feedback tool. For example, if you have a hashtag for your event, take note of what people are saying. Are they calling out any specific vendors or exhibitors? Use that data to decide who to bring back next year — and who to part ways with.

Offer expertise and education

Your vendors, speakers, and entertainment offer something special for your attendees: the chance to learn. In fact, 76% of expo attendees report that they come specifically to learn something new from an expert.

Seek out industry leaders to take part in talks, panels, and demonstrations. Sign up a few people with buzz behind their name, and you instantly boost your expo’s cachet.

  • Offer more ways to meet the makers: Your guests crave a chance to meet the people behind the scenes, but static booths can create awkward interactions. Let’s say you’re hosting a flower expo: Rather than having sales reps at the booths, arrange for the florists themselves to provide onsite flower arrangement demos.
  • Bring in other experts: Don’t limit yourself to just your official vendor list. Feature other leaders in the industry who can round out your expert list. Whether through talks, panels, or demonstrations, let these professionals enhance the learning experience.
  • Extend the learning after the event: Put together a short video or booklet with advice from your experts. Send this to your attendees after the event so they can continue learning on their own.

Choose sponsors aligned with your brand

Sponsors don’t just help you foot the bill or supply refreshments. The right sponsors take an active role in co-creating spaces and activities within your event that engage and excite attendees. They might, for instance, sponsor elegant VIP areas or interactive games.

Sponsors are also a reflection of your brand, which is why you can’t just headline the company that confirms quickest. Instead, strategically seek out partners whose brand, vibe and ethos reflect your own. If your consumer event is a cutting-edge, health-focused expo, find sponsors getting buzz for their new health products.

By aligning your sponsor’s values to your own, you create a message for attendees that there are new, valuable activities in every aspect of your event.

Set up a quick entry

If you’ve done a superior job planning and marketing your expo, a lot of people will show up. Don’t let long entry lines deflate their enthusiasm. To be sure your entry points will flow smoothly, make a few tactical decisions in advance:

  • Choose check-in technology that makes the process fast and lets you sell tickets at the door.
  • Check your data from last year (if you have it) to determine how many people showed up during which time periods. For instance, the Eventbrite Organizer app will show you how many people checked in each hour.
  • Estimate the number of attendees a volunteer can check in per minute, then figure out how many volunteers you’ll need an entry from there. Make a plan for the number of entry points, the number of volunteers manning those entry points, and how the queue will be set up so that it doesn’t become chaotic.

Establish easy payment options

There are many ways that attendees happily spend money at an expo. In fact, 95% of expo attendees enjoy buying merchandise, food, and drinks.

But 87% strongly prefer cashless payment options to have to carry bills and coins. Cashless payment options are no longer cutting-edge. Now, they’re expected. Consider mobile payment options like Apple Pay or RFID wristbands to make it easy for attendees to pay.

The work you put into planning a well-rounded, personalized, dynamic expo will pay dividends not just in ticket revenue, but in the brand-boosting benefits you get from executing an event people love.


  • Steve Han Reply

    Thanks for your comment

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