Emma Eveleigh, MD at LiveBuzz, says organisers must re-think their pre-show marketing strategies.

Life is a series of iterative decisions, punctured by failure. This invigorates us to make changes, leading to small improvements. By that definition a wonderful, successful moment can never be a surprise. The outcome is inevitable because you've done the work. As we know from sports psychology, 1% marginal gains add up, so why shouldn't we adopt this strategy into our events? There is a culture in our industry of prescriptive visitor marketing. A trusted marketing campaign starting on the same date for benchmarking. However, what we see is a higher no-show rate from visitors that register before twelve weeks out and an overall lower rate for visitors that register within the twelve weeks before the event. So why are we happy to continue to sit with the high failure rate of converting registrations into footfall at the show?

Logically by reducing the time between the date of registration and the date of the event reduces the possibility of the person being distracted and them not attending. With all the time a person has between the day of registering and the day of vour show something happens in their work life that feels a little fresher and pressing to attend, their resolve for vour event wains and thev don't attend.

Endless post event surveys return many answers why people don't attend but the real answer is much more prosaic: most people did not attend as something else a little more compelling turned up. On average, those who register more than 12 weeks ahead of the show are only 40% likely to attend, whereas those who register within 12weeks are overall 60% likely to attend. Translate that into people at a normal trade show that has 6,000 pre-registrations over four months and 1,500 register in the first month. This first launch likely to be to your hot' previous attendees and so quite possible that onlv 600 of your hot prospect visitors would attend from the 1,500 that registered. The shift to starting the campaign at three months out could yield other 300 people. Another 300 people attending an event that normally has 3,600 is an increase of 8%. Overall, that's a marginal gain I'd take for free.

I would also argue that not many businesspeople need more than three months to organise their diary for a trip to a major exhibition centre for their industry event. This autumn the registration pattern was artificially shaped by Covid rule changes, most shows had a lack of registrations until 2-4 weeks out. The last week in September was when our visitors sprang back to life. It's a moot point to see what the legacy of 2021 is in terms of registration patterns, but I hope that 2022 sees some new marketing ideas to engage with visitors, which helps organisers win those marginal gains.