The main goal of a trade show or expo is to connect buyers and sellers – helping exhibitors get a great return on their investment in your event.
With some thoughtful planning, you can host an expo that not only benefits you but also your vendors and attendees, leaving them overflowing with praise.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Give yourself plenty of time to plan and research
Look before you leap. If you’ve been to trade shows or similar events before, you already have a pool of knowledge just waiting to be tapped. You can also ask your clients what kind of events they go to and what they enjoy about those events.
Alternatively, talk to your colleagues and get some insights from industry organisations and event sponsors. If you can, ask for data on past events, number of attendees and exhibitor participation. You can also look into trade show directories or talk to your local chamber of commerce and business groups.
Once you’ve done some research, you’ll be in a much better position to decide on a theme for your event, how you want it to run, and what kind of exhibitors it will appeal to.
Pick the right venue and think ‘outside the box’
The size of your venue will depend on the scale of the event you’re planning. And, the bigger the venue, the more space you’ll need to fill with exhibitor displays.
However, not all trade shows need to be held in a convention or exhibition centre. If you have an event with some big equipment, or want to be more flexible with the location – why not try holding your expo in a one of our spacious tents?
For example, the Moonee Valley Bus Expo (photo above) was held in our Regal tent. The organisers chose to host their event in one of our big tops because it provided easy access for their large displays – the buses themselves – and meant they could host it in a great location with plenty of parking.
Using a tent also means your event can be self sufficient. You don’t need to operate within venue restrictions, so access and set up is totally up to you.
Plan your layout and be flexible
Think about how you want people to move through the space and where you want your key points of interest to be.
You’ll need to have a flexible floor plan to accommodate different types of displays or booths. Keep in mind that you can charge more for booths at the ends of the aisles and for those that will need more electrical outlets.
When planning your layout, make sure you factor in the number of attendees expected for your event, so you leave plenty of space for them to walk between and around the booths or displays.
Get your sponsors and exhibitors on board
Now you’ve got your theme, venue and layout, it’s time to start pitching to your ideal sponsors and exhibitors.
Present them with the vision for your event and details about the overall setup. Show your vendors and sponsors how they can benefit from your expo or trade show and let them choose their space – emphasising that with more cost comes more exposure to their ideal market.
Planning a trade show or expo is no mean feat. It takes time and effort to plan and research, secure the best venue, organise your layout, and get exhibitors and sponsors on board.
But, with careful planning, you will create an event that allows your exhibitors to connect with their target market in a unique and personal way – creating a lasting return on their investment that leaves them glowing with praise.
How about you?
What do you love (or hate) about trade shows and expos?
Whether you’re organising Carols by Candlelight or a Christmas fair, here’s how to wow the crowds this festive season
Organising a big event can be stressful at the best of times, let alone at Christmas when expectations are high and people’s availability is low.
Christmas events like Carols by Candlelight and Christmas fairs are a great way to bring communities together, but with calendars filled with parties, end-of-year concerts and other festivities, you have to work extra hard to get people to attend.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can make sure your Christmas event is not to be missed. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Don’t wait until Santa Claus is on his way
When it comes to organising big events, timing is everything, and it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas.
Not only is it a busy time for your potential guests, but also for performers and other service providers, and preparing early will help ensure you don’t miss out.
When setting your date, check whether it will clash with other events. To avoid this, consider holding your event in November to beat the Christmas rush, or, for an evening event like Carols by Candlelight, you could even hold it on a weeknight when people tend to have less on.
While many Christmas events are held as fundraisers, you have to spend money to make money, and the way you allocate your budget could be the difference between hosting a Christmas cracker or a fizzer.
A good place to start is to consider which items will give you the most bang for your buck.
For example, for a Carols by Candlelight event, spending more on a well-known performer may draw larger crowds, while for a Christmas fair, attractions like rides could be a worthwhile investment.
Whatever your priorities are, you’ll need to make sure you have enough cash. This may involve charging an entry fee, or, if you’re putting on a free event, seeking revenue from attractions. Sponsors are also a good way to boost your budget.
Lock in a jolly location
Parks and local sporting grounds are perfect for big events such as Carols by Candlelight, but, as with most things when it comes to Christmas, you’ll need to stake your claim as early as possible to avoid missing out.
When choosing a location, make sure it has plenty of parking or access to public transport as this will impact your crowd numbers, especially during the silly season when cabs can be hard to come by.
When organising an event like Carols by Candlelight, an outdoor stage is a must-have, and a tent or marquee is a great option to protect your performers and sound equipment and provide a focal point for the festivities.
The material of the tent skins in our Regal range is the thickest on the market, which helps to retain sound and will create amazing acoustics for your Christmas carols.
Create a fun, festive atmosphere
When it comes to Christmas events, it’s all about providing family-friendly entertainment and creating a fun, festive atmosphere that will have the kids begging to be there!
While Christmas lights and decorations, festive food and drinks and a visit from Santa are a given, attractions like a jumping castle, Christmas parade or fireworks finale are guaranteed crowd pleasers that will ensure your event is not to be missed.
Of course, for a Carols by Candlelight event, the songs will be the star of the show, so make sure you’ve lined up some quality performers.
You’ll also need to organise an MC, and don’t forget the candles – battery operated candles are a safe option that will provide a magical atmosphere for your guests.
Spread the cheer!
Once the logistics of your event are in place, it’s time to let people know about it!
At this busy time of year, the more exposure your event receives the better, so make sure you promote it in your local newspaper, on social media and on street signs, and ask your sponsors to promote it too.
As well as the time and place, let people know to bring a rug or a chair – and their best singing voices.
You may need to have additional wet weather equipment on hand like ponchos, umbrellas and slip-proof safety mats to help people as they arrive and leave your event.
If you have stall holders, musicians, kids’ rides or food trucks, you’ll need to communicate your wet weather contingency plan with them up-front, because some may be unable to operate safely in bad weather.
Make sure you understand their cancellation policies so you don’t get any nasty surprises at the last minute.
Prepare for temperature changes and UV rays
If you’re organising an event that runs from day to night or across several days, it’s a good idea to prepare for significant temperature changes so your attendees stay as comfortable as possible.
This means providing plenty of shelter and heating for cold nights while providing shade and cool-down areas when it’s hot.
Our tents are excellent for keeping your guests comfortable because they’re made of thick, robust material that insulates against extreme temperatures.
And, our reinforced design ensures they stand strong against wind and rain.
You should also think about providing your guests with blankets on frosty evenings, and make sure you keep water and ice plentiful on hot days.
If you’re having a daytime outdoor event, you’ll also need to protect people from extreme UV exposure.
The SunSmart website has a great checklist to help you get the systems and amenities in place to protect staff, volunteers and patrons from sun damage.
This includes providing enough shade and making sure sunscreen is available.
Don’t forget wind gusts and thunderstorms
High winds and electrical storms can wreak havoc on the best-laid plans.
If safety is a priority, no other marquees, big tops or tents can surpass ours for strength and wind rating.
In 2007, we worked with the NRMA in Sydney to provide rain protection for 400 de-roofed houses during freak winds and storms.
Monitor the forecast
Once you’ve got your contingency plans in place, keep an eye on the weather forecasts as far in advance as possible.
The Bureau of Meteorology gives seven-day forecasts for most areas. Some other sites can give longer-range forecasts, but they can be unreliable.
The closer you get to your event, the more accurate the forecast will be. If big storms are a threat, keep an eye on the radar and warnings for a minute-by-minute check on where the storm is heading.
There’s a reason you remember the superhero dress-up party you went to in 1995 – having a theme creates interest and excitement for your guests and they’ll be thinking about it for years to come.
The good news is you don’t have to have a dress-up party for this to work. A theme is effective because it gives your event some structure and can tie into your business or product.
For example, if you want your product to be associated with fun and entertainment, you may want to create a carnival atmosphere with circus acts, bright lights and games.
Or, if you’re after something seasonal, you could craft a winter wonderland with ice sculptures and themed food and drink, like steaming hot chocolate. Whatever your theme, make sure it fits with your brand and is consistent across the decor, food and entertainment to give your guests an experience that’ll stick in their minds.
2. Select a spectacular venue
There are lots of different places to host events, but why not make your launch party extra special by constructing your own?
A major launch event to 300 Subaru dealers, rally car drivers drove the new car on a demonstration track inside our huge Regal 6 tent – set up in picturesque Port Douglas, Queensland.
Using a tent like those in our Regal range will guarantee your event makes a spectacular impact from both the outside and within.
The tent skin material of the Regal range is the thickest of its kind, which means the tents not only look amazing, they’re the ultimate semi-permanent structure for superb acoustics.
They’re also incredibly safe – no other marquees, circus tents and party tents can surpass ours for strength and wind rating, so you can rest assured your party can go on, no matter the weather.
3. Master your music
Sound plays an important part in any event. It builds the atmosphere and helps your guests feel calm and at ease while they mingle. You can also use music to build excitement or get your guests up and dancing.
It’s important to consider how you’re going to incorporate music into your launch party. Are you going to have live acts or work on your own great playlist?
If you’re having a sophisticated cocktail event, you’ll probably want to keep your music fairly subdued with a three-piece jazz band or some instrumental music. But if you’re aiming to get people onto the dance floor, you could organise a variety band with a great vocalist, or hire a DJ.
4. Use lighting to transform the space
It’s often an afterthought, but lighting can be a game changer when you’re holding a launch party or corporate event.
Lighting can transform the space, create ambience and be used to display videos or presentations throughout the night.
You can also use lighting to direct your guests’ gaze at key times – for example, attracting their attention for speakers or your big product reveal.
5. Create opportunities to move and mingle
The key to a great event is happy guests, so create as many opportunities as you can to get your guests talking to each other and having fun.
Part of this involves keeping people well fed – the food is often a talking point at corporate events, so make sure it’s ample and delicious.
You should also consider some activities that fit with your theme. For example, if you’re hosting a garden party, a game of croquet could be a great way for your guests to mingle.
If you want a more high-energy event, you could install a dance floor and organise a flash mob or some professional dancers to start things off and help people get their groove on.
When you’re organising a large event, timing is critical. You need to give your team plenty of time to plan and prepare, while also making sure that your big day doesn’t clash with someone else’s – because that could have a big impact on crowd numbers.
You also need to consider the time of year you’d like to hold the festival. Will it be hot or cold, sunny or rainy?
If you’re starting your own festival or coordinating one that’s been around for a while, keeping the cash flowing is essential.
To help with this, you may need to pre-sell tickets or organise sponsorships.
It’s also important to keep your budget on track and avoid spending all your cash on your star attraction.
Choosing a location or site
To decide on a location or site, you need to consider the size of your event and what access points, permits and facilities you’ll need.
If you’re organising a music festival, you’ll need plenty of room for the stages and backstage areas and, if it’s a weekend event, you’ll also need to consider space for camping.
If you’re using circus tents like The Majestic, which boasts the widest span of any marquee structure in Australia, you might need to check if you can use pegs on the site.
Don’t forget the essentials
A few essentials for every major event are:
safety and security
food and drink
toilets and waste.
Make sure you have a plan for how you’re going to manage these essential elements. For example, you might need to hire generators and a security team, organise food stalls or catering – and don’t forget the humble port-a-loo!
Be confident and flexible
With some solid preparation, you can feel confident that your special event will run smoothly and seamlessly.
Check and re-check your procedures, and be ready to adjust on the go.