Free Exhibition Planning Template
Planning for an exhibition is a lengthy process, there are multiple things to organise and take into consideration in order to maximise the exhibition’s ROI (Return on Investment). To help you plan we have put together an exhibition planning template for free:
This will take you through all the stages of planning for a show, ensuring that you don’t forget anything. Even if you are a seasoned exhibitor this template will help you remember all you need to do. But if you are exhibiting for the first time, we will go through the planning process below to help you.
The Exhibition Planning Process
The exhibition planning process can be broken down into seven stages. It’s not a linear process, you are likely to have multiple tasks on the go at once. The seven stages of exhibition planning are:
- Booking the space
- Designing your exhibition stand
- Event preparation
- Venue arrangements
- Accommodation and transport
- Pre-show marketing activity
- Last-minute checks before you go
We’ve allocated a four-month time scale to complete these stages. This is just a guide to give you an idea of deadlines, but the more time you allocate the better.
Booking the SpaceThis stage involves a lot of research to find the most appropriate exhibition to showcase your business. You need to consider what your objectives for the show are – do you want to gain leads? Increase brand awareness? Network? If your main goal is lead generation, a larger show is probably more suitable, however, if you want to network and increase brand awareness, a smaller show may be more appropriate. Look at the reputation of the show, assess the audience it attracts, does it suit your budget and is the timing correct? Can you book a decent space? If possible, try to attend the show before you exhibit.
Most larger exhibitions will charge £300 - £350 per square metre for space, though smaller ones will charge less. You should allow a third of your budget for booking the space, a third for your stand and the rest for other expenses like electricity and hotels.
Researching and booking the right show may take a week or so, maybe longer, to get it right.
Designing your exhibition stand
Probably the most important stage of planning is designing your exhibition stand. You want to stand out from the crowd so need the best stand you can get for your budget. See our blog on types of exhibition stand for ideas. If you intend to exhibit at more than one show it is beneficial to source a stand that can be re-used. Our modular stands are lightweight and can be easily stored, we will also help you reconfigure them for future shows.
Choosing the right exhibition contractor is an important part of this, you want someone who has been in the business for a long time, who is reliable and secure. Ensure that they look after the whole process in-house and check out their other stand designs. Look for client testimonials, not only on their website but also on review sites like Trustpilot. Get free design ideas and quotes from several companies before you make your decision.
Once you have chosen your contractor you need to design your stand. This will probably involve a few weeks with the CAD team to finalise the 3D model and integrated features. Then you will spend a further 3-4 weeks liaising with the graphic designers. The whole process should take around 2 months. Make sure that if you plan to self-build, your contractor shows you how to build your stand and what the final result looks like.
Once you have your stand and space you need to think about what you are going to do on the stand. Are you going to run presentations on iPads or a TV? If so, you need to source them. Will you have product demos or run a competition? How will you gather leads? There are a number of good lead generation software packages on the market now, see our guide to them here. If you plan to use one, familiarise yourself and other staff with it now. Will you be offering promotional items on the stand? If so order them now.
Now is the time to select the staff you are going to take to the show. They need to be able to talk knowledgeably about your products and company. They should have the ability to qualify leads quickly and know how to present themselves well on a stand. Provide training at this stage if necessary. You should be taking 3 or 4 members of staff to man the stand so that breaks can be covered.
Do you intend to meet existing customers at the show? It can be a great opportunity to build on relationships. Plan where you will meet them if so – on the stand, in one of the break-out sessions, or maybe for dinner, in which case book a restaurant now before they get booked up.
Make sure you complete all the necessary forms in plenty of time. You will need to order your exhibitor passes, arrange electricity supply, internet and furniture. Keep an eye out for early bird discounts for these items. You will also need to sort out your entry for the show catalogue and look into any other marketing opportunities.
Accommodation and Transport
You can often save money by booking accommodation and transport well in advance. This stage really should be done at the same time as stage 4, well in advance of the show to get the best deals. Once you have booked hotels, arrange how staff will get to the exhibition. If they plan to drive you need to arrange parking at the venue. If they plan to get the train or fly you need to book tickets and arrange for transport to and from the station or airport.