With an ever-increasing number of events occurring outside the trade show floor, the job of a trade show event planner has become a real challenge. With so many get-togethers to choose from, the trade show event planner needs to create enticing venues that will attract the often weary trade show attendee who has canvassed numerous trade show exhibits during the day.
Of course, getting VIPs to networking events can be a hat trick. In order for the trade show exhibitor to put his/her best foot forward, then, they need to have not only a professionally produced event, but one that is highly memorable. But how do they do this?
According to Karla Krause-Miller, Director, Cappa and Graham, Inc. , a professional event planning company in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, it is critical to create a trade show social gathering that not only dazzles but also provides essential networking opportunities. Here are a few of her event planning tips:
The main rule is to create an experience –not just an event. You must make it memorable by adding a “celebrity touch” or a special enticement.
Rule number two is to incorporate the atmosphere of the trade show host city into your special event, whether it is San Francisco, New Orleans, D. C. or Atlanta.
Rule number three is to allow time for face- to- face interaction and networking.
Rule number four –you don’t have to spend vast sums of money in order to have a grand experience.
Finally, no sales pitches allowed during entertaining – make the evening relaxing and fun without obligation.
By way of example, Krause-Miller sites four creative events that that the former Nellcor Puritan Bennett medical equipment company held during the American Society of Anesthesiologists Conferences. In addition to having a 20’ x 30’ custom island trade show booth, the medical equipment company held successful special networking receptions for VIPs.
In New Orleans, Nellcor rented a French Quarter museum home and hosted an event in its courtyard with a jazz band and had the famous Paul Prudhomme’s K- Paul restaurant cater the affair. Each guest left with an autographed Prudhomme cookbook making the experience special.
In Washington, D. C. they reserved the Fords Theater (where Abraham Lincoln was shot). The VIPs got group tickets to the theater performance and, after the show, they had a dessert reception with cast members in a private meeting room upstairs. Everyone had time to chat over dessert, liquors and coffee. The invitations were designed as Playbills adding to the show biz evening.
In Atlanta, the invited guests toured Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind museum that showcased replicas and memorabilia from the movie. They then walked across the street to the Fox theater, a beautiful 1920’s historic home, and were treated to a catered fine dining experience upstairs in a lovely, ornate private meeting room.
In San Francisco, the company reserved a couple of private decks on one of the largest yachts in the Bay –the San Francisco Spirit. They hosted a sunset dinner cruise with fine wines and gourmet dining on the beautiful San Francisco Bay with the skyline of San Francisco aglow.
The sponsors made sure that these events all stayed within FDA guidelines for entertaining professionals in the medical industry.
Remember, if you follow the basic rules for trade show event entertaining, your visitors will have a memorable experience. This will enhance your trade show exhibit or your trade show display rental experience as you will be able to network with your guests in a casual way after they have visited your trade show display.
This event planning advice holds true wherever you have your trade show exhibit or trade show display rental, whether the show is at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the Santa Clara Convention Center or the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
Dick Wheeler is President of Professional Exhibits & Graphics, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California with showroom in Sacramento. Firm is full-service premiere trade show exhibit, graphics and management services company. http://www.proexhibits.com