The Purpose of an Exhibition Event


An exhibition event brings together businesses and individuals from within a specific industry with the purpose of showcasing products or services and building relationships.  Exhibitions can range from small, niche, local events to large, international trade shows.  They take place in conference centres, exhibition halls and hotels across the country.

Exhibitors pay to hire a space at the event, then erect some form of branded exhibition stand which they man with staff members or hired employees.  Attendees reserve a ticket, some are free to attend, others you have to pay for, then browse through the stands to find what they are looking for.  Smaller exhibitions may only have a few hundred attendees, but the larger events can attract thousands of people over several days.

The larger exhibitions will follow a program of activities.  There may be presentations and talks from industry leaders and seminars or networking events.  They may host awards and have product demonstrations or workshops for visitors to attend.

Exhibitions exist for almost any industry – from fashion to food and drink, you are bound to find an appropriate show for your business.  Look in directories like Eventseye so find one linked to your industry.

An exhibition is a great way to find customers to help your business grow. According to a study conducted by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 86 percent of show attendees were the decision-maker or influenced buying decisions, yet 85 percent had not been called on by a salesperson before the show.

The benefits of an exhibition event

  • Lead Generation – most exhibition attendees are there because they are looking for new products or services, so they will be in buying mode.  Even if they don’t buy immediately you will have the opportunity to take their details to add to your CRM system for future marketing efforts.
  • Make sales – with so many attendees who have buying power under one roof you have the perfect opportunity to sell your products or services.
  • Brand Awareness – an exhibition offers the chance to showcase your brand within your industry.  Nowhere else brings together so many individuals and businesses within an industry all under one roof.  If you are just starting out, it is the perfect place to launch your business.  Even if you are an established company it enables you to build awareness of your brand.
  • Opportunity to launch a product – an exhibition is the perfect setting to launch a new product or service in front of a large, captive audience. 
  • Network – you will have the opportunity to meet others within your industry, you may even source new partners or supply channels.
  • Assess the competition – see what products they are launching and how visitors react to them.  You will be able to judge what works and what doesn’t.  It may give you ideas of where to take your business.
  • Gain Knowledge – from the talks and presentations by industry leaders.  You can see new developments within the industry and which direction things are going in.  You may learn new skills from attending workshops.
  • Meet customers face-to-face – an exhibition offers a great opportunity to meet up with your existing customers – this is important to build on relationships and you may be able to sell them additional products or services.  Make sure you let them know of your attendance prior to the event and arrange meetings.
  • Gather feedback – demonstrating your products at an exhibition will give you live feedback on your products and services which will help you to develop your offerings.
  • Train salespeople – an exhibition offers a great opportunity to hone sales techniques.  Try different approaches to see what works.  If you have new staff members it will give them the chance to learn.

Exhibition planning

To become an exhibitor you need to take the following steps:

  • Request the floorplan from the show organiser and choose the space you would like to book.  Some spaces will receive a higher level of footfall than others so do this as early as possible in order to get the best space.  The best spaces tend to be at busy intersections or near services like restaurants and toilets.  Locating near but not right at the entrance may also bring advantages.
  • Design an eye-catching exhibition stand to draw the attention of visitors.  Choose your exhibition stand contractor carefully, they should be able to show you examples of their work.  Pick one that can handle everything in house to minimise costs.  They should be able to supply you with 3D mock-ups free of charge. If you plan to exhibit at more than one show it is worth investing in a modular stand that can be re-used for future shows.  These are simple to assemble yourself without the need for power tools and can easily be packed away and stored ready for the next show.
  • Consider what technology you want on the stand to attract attention – are you going to have a TV showing your products or iPads for visitors to interact with?
  • Think about running a competition to draw in visitors, it is a great way to get more details but the prize must be worth it.
  • Choose the staff to take – they must be knowledgeable enough to talk confidently to visitors about your products.
  • Make travel and hotel bookings for your staff – the earlier you can do this the better if you want to save money on these.
  • Read the exhibitor manual thoroughly to ensure you have filled in all the necessary forms and booked everything you require like electricity and water.
  • Do some pre-show marketing – email your customers and prospects to let them know of your attendance at the show, arrange meetings with any who are also attending.  Broadcast your attendance on social media, make sure you link up with the pages and hashtags being used by the show organiser. 
  • Look for sponsorship or advertising opportunities at the event if you have the budget, and make sure you are listed in the show catalogue.
  • Source marketing materials – make sure you have enough brochures or flyers and arrange for some branded promotional items to have on the stand and give out to prospects.



What to budget for an exhibition

An exhibition can be a significant investment for a small or medium sized company.  The larger shows will charge more for floorspace than smaller shows, but you are looking at needing a budget of at least £6000.  However, the leads that you gain from attending such an event should more than cover your expenses, leading to a good ROI.  The approximate costs are:

  • Floorspace – will be around £300-£350 per square metre so the smallest space is likely to cost £2700.
  • Stand – To buy a basic stand will be around £3000 but you can spend a lot more on an eye-catching bespoke stand.  If you only plan to exhibit at one event it will be cheaper to hire a stand.
  • Hotels and food - £150 per person per day.
  • Travel - £100 per person.
  • Hiring furniture – up to around £500.
  • Hiring AV equipment – around £500.
  • Promotional items - £300 upwards.

A way to save money would be to start at smaller, local events, removing the need to pay for travel and hotels.

Exhibition events offer a unique opportunity to showcase your business and products to your individual industry.  They bring many benefits including lead generation, brand awareness and networking.  But to make a success of it and achieve a good ROI you have to plan carefully and allocate your budget well.  For help planning your next exhibition call us on 0800 019 2141 or email


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