Capture some of that festive feeling when you next “go live”

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Posted by , 17th July 2018

Festivals are big business. Just under 4 million people attended one or more in 2017. What can exhibitors adapt from these events? This post explains.

It’s a trade show Jim but not as we know it. Image shown is from the Desert & Denim website. 

Recently I read a report and some related content that got me thinking.

First was The Market Report 2017. This document presents facts and stats about the UK Festival market. Next, I checked out some online news stories relating to festival attendance.

Headline numbers
  • Nearly 4 million people go to festivals in the UK or approx 7% of the population (Balance Magazine June 2018)
  • Nearly 60% of festival goers are Millennials (Festival Awards Market Report 2017)
  • There were more than 1,000 festivals held in the UK in 2016 (Financial Times  April 2017)
  • Fondness for festival attendance across the UK was fairly evenly spread
  • Sponsorship plays a big part in the funding of events
Musical tastes were wide-ranging

Rock and pop festivals attracted the most attendees as you’d probably expect. However, classical festivals scored as well as most other genres apart from rock and pop. Music lovers of all genres are in the festival frame of mind. Attending festivals is now a big part of our culture.

Learnings from this research that can be applied to exhibiting

One of the biggest things, lessons, learnings or whatever you want to call it that both show organisers and exhibitors can learn from festivals is the importance of experience.

The promise of a good experience is what can make a visitor decide to attend an event or not go at all. Even market-leading events have to work hard at attracting their visitors.

What does a good experience look like?

Increasingly, it looks or needs to look like the experience you get at a festival. Busy and buzzy with different things going on to attract attention and in the case of trade shows; to make attendance worthwhile.

Articles posted by Exhibitors Only have for some time highlighted how some trade shows in the US are making themselves more like consumer events. More like festivals…

Exhibitors who can tap into the same mood will do well because at the show they will catch more attention. Post-event they will be better remembered.

The magazine experience

Many years ago, as a much younger show organiser, I thought how boring and drab most trade magazines were in comparison with their consumer cousins.

Why I asked myself, would the reader of a bright glossy consumer mag (when they were not working), want to read the grey, flat-looking item that came into their in-tray at the office?

Event “experience” is today’s version of the glossy vs. dull mag arguement.

Of course, attendees at shows today are not expecting to stay overnight in a Yurt at the rear of the venue (actually they do camp at Desert & Denim).

But they are expecting and are used to receiving a much higher level of engagement when they shop, visit a cinema, attend a gym session or now when they download their glossy mag.

Marketing details of note
  • 50% of festival goers took advantage of an early bird booking offer for their tickets. They were incentivised to take action early and because of this around 2 million people did. But there were other buying trigger points too (see next heading)
  • Exhibitors should promote their presence well in advance and provide incentives for visitors to come to your stand. Ask for a confirmation to visit in exchange for your offer
  •  And sharing content was huge as you would expect

Sharing experiences on Facebook scored highest at just under 41% but Instagram and other social platforms were heavily used too.  These sharing habits are now ingrained for work or pleasure. So build sharing experiences into your show features and stands and benefit from social when you exhibit.

27.5% of festival goers used the event’s app to get information about what was going on. Exhibitors: Complete organiser forms to ensure that your business included in relevant sections of event information displayed on the app. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on free coverage.

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Ticket purchasing trigger points

Early bird booking offers captured the biggest chunk of advance sales but other factors that triggered sales included;

  • After headliners had been announced (exhibitors use content stories to get the same effect e.g. as new speakers are announced)
  •  When friends bought their tickets. Nearly 35% of festival goers went in groups of six or more people (encourage social sharing to boost awareness and visits to your stand)
  • Once advertising started appearing (Plug into organiser show promotion. Time your pre-show marketing so that you get the widest coverage relating to your participation)
Sponsorship accepted but not enjoyed …but it was remembered

47.7% of visitors accept that festivals need brand sponsorship, but it doesn’t improve their enjoyment. Despite that fact, 44.2% remember sponsors from the festivals they attended.

The lesson for exhibitors: If you are going to be a sponsor don’t be boring and add some tangible value or improvement to the event. An example; Phone charging.

Add value as a sponsor

Millennials like many of us, love their smartphones and tablets. So it’s a real pain when you can’t re-charge these devices easily. If you want to sponsor something that is useful to visitors at any kind of event, consider sponsoring charging centres. Build-in friendly and positive messaging around charging points. Encourage sharing of images and information.

If you can’t afford to sponsor the whole charging facility at a show, offer free charging on your stand. Make this part of your show offer. And if you’re wondering about demand, 42.5% of festival goers thought venues should offer a charging service.

What good is a powered-up phone if you don’t have WiFi?

At big exhibitions, it’s not unusual during the busiest times of the day for the wifi to drop-out. This mirrors what happens at festivals and it’s a source of frustration for both sets of attendees.

If you are looking for a sponsorship opportunity that visitors will thank you for then consider sponsoring WiFi in and around specific bars or other show features. Asking visitors a simple question or two in exchange for the service is fair and acceptable. Just don’t make logging-in to onerous or goodwill will be lost.

Exhibitions and festivals are not the same things

They are definitely not the same kind of event. However, incorporating some festival thinking into the way you approach shows will add some zest to your displays and your company’s memorability. Festivals are fun and they are enjoyable. Don’t be the boring old trade magazine when you exhibit. Be the glossy, interesting and stimulating one instead.

Further reading

You can download a copy of the Market Report using this link

Read about Desert & Denim by clicking this link

Posted in B2B Marketing  /  Trade show ideas  /  Trade show marketing  /  Visibility & Impact

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