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Exhibition News March 2015
March 2015

Guest expert: Dealing with no-shows

Letterbox blog

Springboard Events’ Mark Saunders responds to the question: How can we minimise and reduce the impact of no-shows at our events?

There are lots of things that you can do to minimise your ‘no-shows’. At every level there are ‘encouragements’ that can be offered.

In the last couple of years we have found that our registrations have increased in some cases by as much as 25 per cent. However our attendances have remained steady and consequently we have been experiencing an increasing percentage of ‘no-shows’ despite more and more effort to convert. Research we have done with the ‘no-shows’ has unearthed no discernible trend.

Here is a radical thought; well a rehashed thought. Start charging visitors to attend trade shows. I haven’t been for a while, but the trade shows I once attended on the continent all charged and no one blinked. In many cases our shows are providing our visitors with a huge amount of information, ideas, solutions and products and so on for their businesses. Yet we place no value on this and provide more and more free stuff, seminars, workshops, features, coffee, water, car parking. On the whole, the exhibitor faces higher rates and suppliers get squeezed to pay for all this.

We are very good at coming up with more and more reasons why companies should pay a lot of money to exhibit at our shows but we have a blind spot when it comes to our visitors. Obviously there are lots of very good reasons why we don’t. Terrified that visitor numbers will drop, scared the competition will not follow suit, our audiences will migrate, exhibitors will revolt, it’s always been this way, and so on.

Is a visitor really going to stop going to shows because they have to fork out a tenner. On the whole, no they are not. Those shows that do suffer as a result probably deserve to. The resulting benefits for the others in terms of less pressure on exhibitor rates, investment in marketing, content and infrastructure, perhaps even the bottom line would be significant.

Perhaps more importantly there will be a greater sense of value in the relationship that a show and its visitors have. And it should kill your ‘no-shows’ stone dead.

- Mark Saunders is the director of Springboard Events. Any comments? Email