Planning a B2B event is hard work. There seem to be a million details to oversee and it can be difficult to give your attention to all of them. Additionally, it might be challenging to consider new ways of doing things when it takes all of your time and energy to manage an event using your existing protocol.

To address this predicament, we've created a shortlist of areas in the event planning process that often go overlooked or could be improved with a change of perspective. Some of these questions are general, while others apply if you are using a trade show software or technology solution like our Show Expert Systems.

1. First, what are traditionally your biggest hurdles in carrying out your event?  

So often we focus on simply getting the job done without fully examining our business motives. When planning for your event, ask yourself which tasks are the most burdensome and in what areas you’d like to see improvement.

Does your company struggle to finalize rebates prior to your event? Are lines at registration frustrating for your customers as well as upper management? Do you wish you could increase the accuracy of your orders? Would you like to sell more new cases? Are your shipping percentages lower than you’d like them to be?

How much of the process are you addressing internally? Might you benefit from partnering with a trade show software and service provider? 

There are lots of questions that only you can answer. But the first step is simply asking. You might be surprised to discover that your planning strategy is out of sync with what you really need to achieve. 

2. How do you need to collect data after the show?  

If your company is like most, you will need orders and rebate data in a format that loads easily into your backend system. This may be a comma or tab delimited flat file, or simply a file in Excel. It’s advisable to convene with your IT department well in advance of the show so that they can specify not only the file type, but also the order in which data needs to appear. This is even more important if you are not including a skip-week following your event. By confirming these details in advance, your data can be quickly delivered and then easily loaded by your IT staff.

Additionally, it’s helpful to consult with your sales department and management team to determine what analytics they need. Your sales department may need detailed reports for each customer the day after the event. Your management department, on the other hand, may simply need a high-level overview of the show’s performance. The more accurately you can confirm your reporting requirements before the show, the smoother your post-show experience will be.

3. How soon can you take possession of the venue? 

If you are working with a trade show software provider, chances are that the earlier you can take possession, the better. This is especially true for mid-size to large shows (140+ booths) that necessitate additional time for set-up and testing. We recommend two full days for staging large events. 

Show hosts are often able to negotiate an extra set-up day into their venue contract without incurring additional charges. However, after a contract has been signed, venues have less incentive to provide an extra day for free, so be sure to take care of this detail before putting pen to paper.

4. Have you discussed wireless networking with your venue?  

Many venues have wireless networks in order to provide internet access to event staff and attendees. For the events we help manage, we provide its own wireless network to facilitate communication between the Point-Of-Sale units on the show floor and the on-site server. If you partner with us or another software provider, it’s important to communicate this information early on to your venue and its network provider, especially if that network provider is a large outfit.

Data Connect’s infrastructure is designed to work along side internal networks and avoid interference, but conversations should take place up front to confirm that the networks are on non-competing channels. Often times, depending on the show host’s networking requirements, the venue provider will simply turn off their network in the hall.

5. Are you placing touchscreen ordering units at the front or the back of the booth? 

If you are using point-of-sale terminals for order placement at your show, it’s important to decide in advance whether customers will be able to access the terminal or if orders will be keyed in exclusively by vendors. If customers are placing their own orders using the trade show software, POS units should be located in the front of the booth. This will require power at the front of the booth or extension cords that run to the rear. Be sure to review requirements with your electrician well in advance of the show so that everyone is well prepared. Nothing is worse than last minute surprises.

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