According to a 2013 post from the Trade Show News Network, relationship building is one of the top three goals of trade show exhibitors. And considering that approximately 60 million people attend trade shows each year—more than 80 percent of whom have buying power—trade shows seem to provide a sea of networking and relationship building opportunities.
But, as the saying goes, “so many people, so little time!” It seems next to impossible to connect with everyone on your list at a trade show or conference, which is where the after-hours event comes into play. Trade show after-parties provide one more opportunity to network or continue fruitful conversations post-show. And by hosting one yourself, you can ensure it’s an event everyone will want to attend. Keep reading for some party planning tips.
How to throw a great post-show party
Throwing a successful after-party can be as easy as one, two, three … four.
- Choose a theme: Themed parties help generate excitement and create a lasting impression. When choosing your theme, make sure it is memorable, fun and ties into the expo or your exhibit. Disseminate the theme on promotional materials, such as pre-show postcard invites, banners and giveaways. For instance, if you’re hosting a luau, choose Hawaiian badge lanyards for your freebie.
- Provide good food and beverage: Good food and refreshing drinks are a must for the post-show party. After all, following a long day at the show, people are going to be hungry (and thirsty). A full course meal will not be necessary, but a hosted bar, hearty hors d’ oeuvres or a variety of finger foods for guests to graze on is essential. Mini quiches, salmon tarts, meatballs, a cheese board, fresh fruits and vegetables make for a nice spread. Don’t forget about dessert! Individually wrapped and logo’d brownies, cookies and crispy treats are great choices, giving guests the option to eat them there or take them back to the hotel to nibble on later.
- Change up the venue: If you have the opportunity to change your venue—take it! Guests who have already spent 8 to 10 hours at the expo hall may be itching for a change of scenery. If you can, host your party elsewhere, such as on a rooftop terrace, in an executive suite or even poolside. If you can’t, you may want to transform the current venue. Have the staff clear out some tables, turn on music and dim the lights to make things seem a little less business-like. Light-up centerpieces add to the ambience and can double as end-of-night giveaways.
- Hire quality entertainment: Your entertainment choice will be dependent on your target audience. Some ideas that may resonate include live music, a magician, a comedian or a hypnotist. Whatever you choose, sit back, relax and enjoy. Chances are you’ve earned it!
Remember, the after-party creates one last opportunity to connect with someone you may have missed. Host a successful party that everyone will want to attend by choosing a fun theme, great food and drinks, a fabulous venue and fantastic entertainment. You’re on your way to building lifelong business relationships.