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Profit or Passion? Your five step to do list for a start up exhibition

Harrogate Convention Centre


Rapidly growing AireCon gaming festival
Rapidly growing AireCon gaming festival

Your five step to-do list for a start-up exhibition

Whether your motivation is commercial or promoting a passion, setting up a new exhibition can seem daunting. However, we’ve identified five steps practised by our most successful exhibition organisers.

1 – Identify income

Sounds obvious but do your homework and find your way around a spreadsheet. What’s your financial objective? Is your aim to make a profit or simply break even and grow your special interest group? Either way you can’t start planning an event without a budget. It’s critical that you identify sources of income including sponsors, exhibitors and potential ticket sales.

2 – Your exhibitor’s sales pitch

What can your exhibitors expect to gain? Trade Exhibition or Consumer Show they attend to sell off the stand or make new contacts to follow up. What are the benefits of your exhibition compared to others? How will you reach their audience and market the event? Do you already have access to an audience database through a magazine, website or social media – if so how many and what’s their spending power?

You may need to offer special deals to high-profile exhibitors – key industry or special interest names to draw your audience and other exhibitors.

3 – Your Stand Contractor

Some exhibitors may want ‘space only’ and have their own exhibition stand already, but for a start-up show most will need exhibition stand provision and for that you’ll need a reliable contractor. Working with the right team is imperative to making sure your exhibition is a success.

If you don’t have a contractor in mind, ask your venue. They may have a preferred supplier or can recommend.

4 – Visitors

If you are hosting a consumer exhibition, you must first identify your target market. Who are you appealing to and how are you going to promote your event? To get your messaging seen and heard you must get the marketing of your exhibition right. Do they read magazines? Are there online forums where they congregate?

5 – Choosing the right venue

Depending on your exhibition, you will be looking for a number of factors. These should include:

AireCon Director, Mark Cooke, perhaps sums it up best.

“We were surprised by how quickly AireCon had grown as an event. It started out as just a group of friends but within three years it was evident we needed a venue which did the festival justice.

Harrogate Convention Centre was perfect because it had great road and rail links and there was a big range of accommodation options for the hundreds of people we were expecting.

The venue is essentially a collection of event halls so we were able to choose a set-up which worked perfectly for us. We’ve also got loads of options to expand the event at Harrogate in future years.”

Whether this is your first exhibition or your fifth, whether small or large, these 5 checkboxes are essential for any exhibition planner. Once you have established these five areas, you can concentrate on executing an event that will have everyone talking for the rest of the year.

For more on exhibitions and how Harrogate Convention Centre can help, take a look at Your Audience Awaits

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