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Extending the useful life of your booth through videos
Trade shows are not just a time to display your product or service, but a time to network, build relationships with others and generate leads. With the who’s who of your industry in one place, it’s the perfect time to socialize and find out a little more about your vendors, existing customers and potential new customers.Person-to-person business is important. In fact, company executives estimate that 28 percent of businesses would be lost without that all-important personal connection time. What’s more, almost 40 percent of prospective customers become customers because of an in-person meeting.
Take that personal interaction a step further by hosting an after-hours trade show event to really bolster your business. Besides, what better way to get to know everyone than to host an after-hours event to party with your peers? Be the company that brings everyone together so whether you gather the next day or the next show, you and your brand will really be remembered!Make plans
First thing’s first: What do you want to accomplish by hosting an after-hours trade show event? Do you want to build your brand, sell your product, celebrate your customers or attract new ones? And, how do you intend to mark its success? Ensuring you have established your event objectives and how you measure them will provide the framework for a successful event.

Once you decide on those objectives, select the guest list: What qualifies an ideal event-goer? How many are you planning to host? Are there “influencers” who should be invited, as they will help build buzz or media to attract industry attention?

The deciding factors of budget and timeframe will ultimately determine the type of event you plan. From a small, casual affair to renting the grandest suite, the resources available to you will set parameters for the event’s scope.

Put it together
Now that you’ve created the framework, you can have some fun in brainstorming the event’s details.

  • Depending on your goals, you may want to choose a fun activity like a team sporting event. Plan a softball game at a nearby park and bring T-shirts along to set each team apart.
  • If you’re meeting in a coastal city, scout out the beaches for a volleyball court and set up a match. Give your new friends visors to keep the sun out of their eyes.

For a more formal affair, check out local hotels or banquet halls. Choose an original setting with great views or a well-known chef. Then, decorate the place with company colours using table covers or vibrant banners.

Get the word out!
Once the event is fine-tuned, the guest list finalized and the details hammered out, you need to let people know!

  • Thinking about inviting senior-level executives? Call their offices directly or mail formal invitations to ensure the date is booked on their calendars in advance. For a more casual affair, send an email blast or simply hand invitations out while you’re at the show.
  • Create a special event website and then distribute event-themed swag with the website URL. Use items like beach balls or golf tees to encourage your guests to log on to find out all the party details!
  • You can do the same with a tote bag. A bigger product like this gives you more room to print your Facebook® and Twitter® information and encourage everyone to “friend” or “follow” you. And it’ll make carrying trade show materials more convenient, something attendees will definitely remember you for.

With a successful after-hours trade show event, you’re able to generate more awareness about your business, as well as show vendors, distributors and associates how important they are to your team. And if you invite prospective clients, they’re able to see another more personal side to your business than just the item you produce or the service you provide.

McKee, Joyce. “Facts and Statistics on Trade Shows.” Facts and Statistics on Trade Shows. The International Center for Exhibitor and Event Marketing, 29 Aug. 2011. Web. 13 July 2012.

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