The perfect exhibition can’t happen without the perfect exhibition venue – but what are the key things you should be looking for when selecting one? Obvious factors like size and location will be considered first, but there are other elements which can make all the difference to the success of your event. It all begins with a venue, so we sat down for a chinwag with Charlotte Best, Senior Event Manager at London’s QEII Centre to get some top tips on nailing an exhibition venue… (*pop trivia, she also used to be a professional runner for Team GB- go Charlotte!)
1.Location location location
Location will always be a major factor in venue choice, but after you’ve chosen the country and city, there are logistical issues to factor in too. According to Charlotte, you need to make sure you’re thinking about it from both an exhibitor and visitor point of view. For exhibitors, being able to drive up to a loading bay and have experienced venue staff on hand to help them unload will make a big difference. If attendees are travelling from overseas, hosting the event at a venue near the airport or with great public transport links should be top priority. Make sure you consider where your delegates are coming from and try to make their lives as easy as possible with your venue choice. No one likes the stress of feeling like they’ve had to battle to be there.
2. I got the power!
It’s rarely the first thing exhibition organisers ask a venue, but according to Charlotte, power is so important to making the event work and needs to be at the forefront of all our minds when booking a space. Plug sockets may not be top on your list of priorities but they need to be! The most basic requirement is adequate floor power – the standard requirement for a stand-holder will be a floor socket – but depending on what your exhibition looks like you may need a more advanced setup. Keep an eye on whether it’s included for free as this could ramp your cost up a whole lot.
3. Dude, where's my wifi?
The right venue can go a long way to helping exhibition organisers sell stand space and create a more enjoyable experience for exhibitors yet one of the biggest gripes we have all experienced at a venue is super slow WIFI, which can be a nightmare when exhibition or trade show business is being conducted (*Or you want to check in on Facebook at the super cool venue you’re at!) Most venues should have invested over the past couple of years so in theory, WIFI should be fast enough for even the heaviest internet users (or wannabe Instagram influencers!)
4. Find your dream team
Something that is absolutely crucial when looking at booking exhibition venues is the team you’ll be working with at the venue. You could be spending months if not years working and planning with them, so make sure the dynamic and relationship is strong. You need to have a team you can rely on in the lead-up to and throughout the exhibition. According to Charlotte, it’s essential that they are a team who are professional, trustworthy and personable. It’s a good idea to establish early on who your key point of contact is, as having one person who knows your event inside out makes things run so much more smoothly than if you’re having to speak to a different person every time you phone the venue.
You don’t have to look far to see that sustainability is one of the hottest topics in the event industry right now and something of a buzz word – from banning plastic straws and lanyards to reducing carbon footprint, it’s never been more important for organisations to demonstrate their environmental credentials. According to Charlotte, If the venue you book isn’t taking sustainability seriously it can reflect badly on you – attendees won’t necessarily be able to differentiate between the venue’s actions and your own. A good plan is to ask to see their sustainability policy and find out what they are doing to be more sustainable.
Choosing the perfect venue for your exhibition can be the difference between success and failure. The venue can reflect the quality of the stands and the exhibition itself. With the help of Charlotte we have created 5 easy tips for finding the best venue for your exhibition, now there's no excuse! If you do need any further advice click below to contact us.
By Lucy Saxton
Lucy Saxton is a journalist, content creator, social media advisor and broadcaster. Studying Criminology at Leicester Uni and completing an MA In print Journalism at The University of Sheffield, Lucy had ambitions of becoming the next female Morse but the pull of teen girls magazines saw her starting her career as Features Editor of the popular teen girls magazine, MIZZ Mag. Her highlights over ten years at MIZZ included a pub lock in with Westlife and turning up to an interview wearing the same outfit as Tom Jones. More recently, Lucy has worked for Cosmopolitan Magazine and Seventeen Magazine where her favourite features shoot included five 12 week old kittens. She sadly never got to work on the naked male centrefold. Lucy was previously a Journalist at M&IT Magazine which saw her travelling all around the world Judith Chalmers style and launching several social media channels for CAT MEDIA- it’s ALL about the hashtag. Lucy is a regular travel correspondent on BBC radio where her cackle of a laugh is particularly popular with listeners.More articles by Lucy Saxton