Originally published in Trade Show Executive, November 2015 Edition
Brand loyalty has become a complex component in the marketing equation because of its ever-changing identifiers. Gone are the days of “I gravitate toward ‘this’ brand because my father used it and my father’s father before him” and in are the days of “You’ve got my attention (for now) so dazzle me.” To be fair, the “dazzle me” aspect has always been there to a certain degree, but in today’s demographics where younger generations are more tech-savvy, informed and – it’s no secret, right? – populous than ever before… Let’s just say the topic of brand loyalty is one that keeps us all on our toes, including exhibition and event organizers.
Today’s brand loyalty involves much more than traditional brand recognition. It has taken on a life of its own, encompassing engaging attendees on such a personalized level that they leave your show feeling you provided them with an unforgettable experience. It’s this feeling and experience that they will draw upon when choosing whether to return. Brand loyalty reflects an emotionally-charged decision making process that is prevalent among today’s attendees. Show organizers must build upon this principle to retain existing customers because it is a more efficient and economic method than starting with a clean slate every go around.
As we start building momentum for Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in December, providing a memorable experience is of the highest priority. Our #1 goal is to connect with attendees while providing top notch education and networking opportunities, as well as offering exhibitors a diverse yet focused platform to showcase their products and services. And we’re pretty excited about the programming we have in store this year to do just that.
Last month I talked about Expo! Expo!’s education initiatives on the show floor such as the Tech SwimUp Bar, Campfire Sessions and TechCenter Showcase. Off the show floor, sessions will dive deep into the various considerations you must address to actively grow your show; the different steps of/approaches to show operations from start to finish; and developing strategies for your own career advancement in the process. There is something for everyone in these sessions whether you are starting an exciting new career in the exhibitions and events industry, can stake a claim in many fulfilling years, or somewhere in between. Not to mention the incredible opportunity for those enrolled in the CEM Learning Program to take advantage of two full days of course offerings.
The Expo! Expo! show floor will present a true marketplace as approximately 270 exhibitors will engage attendees not only through valuable face-to-face interaction, but also through our new attendee/exhibitor matchmaking program – Connect – which allows exhibitors and attendees to communicate via email before, during and after the show. Because one of the vital pieces of the brand loyalty puzzle is to serve your brand all year round, Connect transforms our two-day exhibition into a 365-day business tool. After all, Expo! Expo! is the show for shows and we want attendees to experience year-round takeaways.
While it’s true that getting a lot of work done at an exhibition is very satisfactory, a large part of the good vibe comes from the networking accomplished at an event. Networking events spanning three days such as the general sessions, awards ceremony, opening and closing parties, business luncheon, Gift of Service, Humanity Rocks, meet up sessions on the show floor and many, many more activities present an abundance of opportunities to connect with fellow attendees. Now that’s a good feeling, and we hear time and time again from Expo! Expo! attendees that it’s one of the top reasons they keep coming back.
It’s all about experience at Expo! Expo! in Baltimore, and I look forward to you being a part of it.
David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO