Although there is a saturated market for event management software, specifically for the attendee side of things, at the time of writing this in the Summer of 2022, there are very few solutions available around exhibitor management software. When managing attendees for events, event planners need to track things like registration, payments, agendas, and the like. When it comes to exhibitors and sponsors, event planners need to not only manage registration and payments, but they also need to manage the fulfillment of all that is promised to these exhibitors.
Is Exhibitor Management Software Necessary?
For small events, such as just a handful of sponsors, planners could probably get away with managing exhibitors through a spreadsheet and handling questions through email and phone. But if you’re planning an event with a large expo, even as small as 30 exhibitors, exhibitor management software is absolutely vital.
What is Exhibitor Management Software?
Exhibitor management software helps with all of the different aspects of event planning with the focus on exhibitors up until the show date. First, there’s the task of actually getting exhibitors to agree that giving you money to exhibit at your show is worth their time. Traditionally, this is done by sending out an exhibitor prospectus, calling exhibiting companies asking for their interest, and the like. With a good exhibitor management software, you can automate a lot of this process and – if set up correctly – even increase your sales numbers. This usually looks like a dynamic exhibitor registration link on your main event website, where the link will take the exhibitors down a path-to-purchase within the exhibitor management software.
Once a sale is made, that’s when the real work begins. In order to properly fulfill what an exhibitor purchased, you’ll need to manage and track exactly what they purchased, and then start collecting assets such as a company description, logo, and marketing materials. If you have 100+ exhibitors, trying to collect all of this with different tools such as excel for tracking, folders for logos and word docs, and then sending out emails regularly to remind exhibitors who are falling behind is pure chaos. The room for error and risk is simply too high. A proper exhibitor management software will make all of this much easier to track, and the best part is all in one place. Furthermore, if the software is halfway decent, it will also act as an exhibitor portal for exhibitors to provide all of this information in one place.
In the midst of selling and tracking exhibitor deliverables, the exhibitor management software should of course give you the ability to communicate with your exhibitors individually and in bulk. Although the software should dramatically drive down time and effort in collecting deliverables, you can never really fully automate the process 100%. Besides, building a relationship with your exhibitors is part of the process, and by going fully automated, you lose this personal touch.
Finally, the exhibitor management software must easily produce reports and dashboards so that you can, at a glance, easily see where you are at with everything at any given time. Without software, you will easily get lost in the whirlwind of emails, phone calls, and spreadsheet tracking, but it would be extremely difficult to answer key questions at any point in time in the process such as how close are you to your sales goal, what are you best selling products, who still owes you a logo, and so on.
Is Exhibitor Management Software Right for You?
Hopefully it’s clear to you by now whether or not exhibitor management software is a tool you’ll need in your toolbox for your shows. I’ve found that as technology continues to evolve, people come to expect that event planners are up with the latest and greatest. If theme parks, entertainment stadiums, concerts, and other events are continuing to improve the experience for their attendees every year, it shouldn’t be any different for exhibitors at conferences and tradeshows.
Co-Founder and CEO of ExpoGenie, a trade show management software company based out of San Francisco, CA. Prior to ExpoGenie, he was co-founder of ConvoSpark, an event management agency, and before that spent 8 years working in exhibitor sales and fulfillment for FreemanXP.
In his spare time when he is not spending family time with his wife and daughter, Derek enjoys going on outdoor adventures such as hiking, snowshoeing, and paddle boarding in beautiful Bend, Oregon.