Trade show participation is coming under increasing scrutiny; marketing budgets are shrinking and directors are requiring maximum ROI. Therefore, it is really important that in accordance with the trade show Pareto Principle, you choose the right trade show that will deliver your business objectives.

Borrowing from Dr. Elling Hamso, one of the greatest experts on measuring events and meetings ROI, a prerequisite for profitability is that “exhibitors have to do something at the lowest cost possible” in order to create and justify the added value of a trade show appearance. Often this is not the case, and exhibitors put all their faith in trade shows organisers, or they do not have any clear expectations on co-operation.

[pullquote]“Dr. Elling Hamso: “Exhibitors have to do something at the lowest cost possible” [/pullquote]

It then comes about that almost every year exhibitors ask me how we measure the return on their investments in collaboration with one of the trade shows that we organise. Normally, I would say that the measure of profitability begins with the selection of target groups – the more we are precise with this, the better the return on investment. Another element is clearly defined objectives, which we communicate very clearly with all of the stakeholders of our trade shows. Very broadly speaking, what you cannot measure, you cannot manage, so with targeted surveys among invited buyers and exhibitors we can regularly check the satisfaction of key stakeholders. Over the years, they have become a credible and valuable source of data for improving the quality of projects. The set of criteria we use does not change and it allows us to track trends over time.

So, despite the fact that there are clearly a number of methodologies and measurement techniques, it all begins with the method of evaluation and the stakeholder’s decision on which effects are most important to the organisers or the exhibitors. As a rule, they can be divided into three effect categories:

  1. Short-term selling, which is still the dominant criterion for the evaluation of ROI for participation in a B2B event.
  2. Development of a brand and customer loyalty is another criterion with strong long-term effects. It not until after several years of continuous implementation of a fair from the perspective of the organisers or participation from the perspective of exhibitors that concrete results can be brought about.
  3. Networking and influencing key stakeholders is also a long-term activity, which can greatly enhance the marketability of your brand.

Measuring effects is therefore not as straightforward as it might seem at first glance. On the participants’ side it all starts with clear goals and expectations. If there are no goals, everything may otherwise appear good, so the setting of goals is of primary importance, because only then can we measure what we have really achieved. On the trade show organisers’ side there is a striking difference between public and private sector organisers. The smaller the share of public funding of trade shows, the greater the concern for ROI. To measure the return of a trade show there are clear and precise financial indicators in place that show, despite the sceptics, that as a part of direct marketing trade shows and exhibitions are still one of the most effective tools, because we can clearly define the goals and measure them in the best way through, for example, the number of meetings or the number of acquired business opportunities.

Another important part of ensuring a high yield is also a general feeling of quality. For this it is important to provide a suitable environment for B2B communication. This includes subtle initiatives such as a convenient and pleasant booth to establish a personal relationship. At our trade show we create business opportunities and because of this we are very carefully choosing our suppliers. We therefore dedicate attention to this kind of detail. Quality control is carried out throughout the preparation of the project with face-to-face meetings with suppliers and through interviewing all stakeholders. After the project we carry out personal meetings with approximately 50% of all exhibitors. Meetings are designed primarily to improve the quality of the project.

Based on experience we are happy to share with you some suggestions and recommendations for a more objective evaluation of the profitability of participation at trade shows and fairs.

 [ws_table id=”325″]


CE07F539-B74C-4AEC-9E40-25ED068EFAED[2]Added value of the Conventa trade show:

[ws_table id=”324″]


Gorazd Čad

About the author:

Gorazd Čad is a veteran convention tourism addict. Founder and owner of the marketing and congress agency TOLERANCA MARKETING, he has numerous years of experience in the planning, preparation and execution of major international trade shows and fairs. Having started his career in Cankarjev dom, where he project-led on fairs such as Infos, Kapital, Bits & Fun, Slovenian Wine Festival and many others, work in his private capacity has given him a long and multi-faceted experience of developing B2B trade shows, the most noteworthy of these being Conventa, Space, Natour and Hot-Rest. B2B selling solutions sit at the heart of the action of his work and are the key specialisation with proven added value and measurable results.