Having worked with hundreds of events to optimize B2B Meetings we have realized that the question “Where will meetings take place?” is not as simple as it might sound.
There are actually a lot of decisions revolving around it; “Is the visitor or exhibitor experience more important?”, “What level of commitment do I expect to create with pre-scheduled meetings?”, “Am I willing to allocate dedicated floor space to a networking area?” And many more questions are embedded into this seemingly trivial question.
In this guide, we will draw upon our experience in organizing meetings at trade shows, conferences and networking events to provide you with the pros and cons of the different meeting configurations.
Why Pre-Scheduling Meetings?
The first question is why would I enable pre-scheduled meetings at my event? Can’t people just use a chat functionality? The main reason, we believe, is Return on Time. For visitors and exhibitors alike time is the most valuable thing they have at an event, and any tool should strive to increase the return of the time allocated to the event.
As little time as possible should be ‘wasted’ by looking for a stage, waiting to get your badge to enter the event, and trying to find the person you are meeting.
Therefore, pre-scheduled meetings provide the ability for attendees to plan their day before the event in the same way they select the sessions on the Event Program they would want to go and see.
Different Configurations for Event Meeting Locations
General Location: The most simple way to set up a meeting location is to use general spots such as “at the entrance” or “Meeting Point A” as the place for meetings to take place. The benefits of this are mainly that it is very easy to set up and requires little interaction with operational teams as long as a banner is positioned indicating the area. There are however significant drawbacks to this. In general, meeting attendance will be lower, as there is less commitment when no table is assigned to the meeting, and people can sometimes get frustrated when they can’t easily locate individuals.
Meeting Tables: Numbered tables that are automatically assigned when a meeting is accepted on the platform is an incredibly efficient experience. When executed well it provides attendees with a streamlined way to have 10+ meetings a day in rapid succession with a minimal number of no-shows. We recommend it for any event with more than 200 people as the difference in satisfaction and networking efficiency is significantly higher than a “General Location”.
Booth: For any event where the product or actual booth of the seller is important, making it possible for meetings to be at the booth is vital. For example, at ProWien, the largest wine fair in Germany, all meetings happen at the booth because there are 6,000+ exhibitors that want to showcase their wines. It requires clear signage and communication that meetings are happening at the booth and where those booths are.
Hybrid: Several of our clients has successfully implemented a “Hybrid model” combining a smaller meeting table area for visitor to visitor meetings while enabling exhibitor meetings to happen at their booth. You can see in this video how the dedicated space worked for Imbibe Live where about 45% of the overall number of meetings happened. The other 55% of meetings actually happened at exhibitor booths, which shows that it creates a better experience for all meetings.
Meeting Location Decision Grid
To make it easier we’ve put together the grid below which we hope will help you come to a decision on where meetings are going to take place.
Monetization Ideas for Your Meeting Area
One of the issues organizers have with Meeting Area’s is that they don’t generally drive revenue vs. square footage bookings by exhibitors. We have seen two clever ideas to monetize your networking area and making it a great sponsorship opportunity.
Sponsored Meeting Areas
At Money 20/20 US the Meeting Area was called the “PayPal Lounge” and was a fully sponsored area at the middle of the show floor. It fits perfectly with PayPal’s brand of enabling companies to do more business with seamless payments and drives great brand recognition for them. Here is our CEO; Tim Groot and our Head of Exhibitor Management Laurie Delpino at Money 20/20 USA:
Premium Meeting Tables
Another “Premium” idea that we love is having premium tables inside your meeting area. For example, you can have 30 normal tables and 10 premium tables that are just for a specific company to have their meetings at in one area. This maximizes use of space and provides the 10 companies with a premium experience that sets them apart from other companies.
Have we missed something? We’d love to hear from you as we continue to move towards more connected events.
Powered by Grip Event Networking
In our ongoing quest to ‘empower the organizer’ we’ve added a whole range of new features to the Grip Dashboard. This includes new business intelligence features, organizer notifications for direct engagement with event attendees, sponsorship packages and a whole new data quality section on the home screen.
Grip now features two sponsorship packages that you can manage completely from the dashboard.
Lite – a simple way to ‘highlight’ certain exhibitors or potentially even visitors in recommendations and attendee / exhibitor lists. Boomset, in the mobile mockup, is not pushed to the top of the list but does has the featured label behind the name to increase visibility and catch people’s attention when scrolling through the list.
Premium – the full sponsorship package will push exhibitors to the top of lists on both the mobile app and desktop platform giving even greater visibility as is the case with Grip, CVENT and Circdata in the screenshot.
In addition to that, premium sponsors are also shown in the footer of emails and in the sidebar on the desktop platform.
Again, all of this can be managed from the Grip dashboard to empower you to take full control of your event to create event sponsorship packages of the Grip matchmaking platform.
With events becoming bigger and bigger the ability to quickly filter profile and interaction data from for example meetings is crucial and of great importance to organizers. Therefore we’ve made one of the most advanced filtering modules available in the industry.
It enables multi-facet and multi-rule filtering, to illustrate what this means let us give you an example. You can filter for all meetings that involve an exhibition company and are with a visitor and are not yet accepted. You can go as complicated as you want, there is no limit! See a small give with an example of multi-facet filtering below!
Data quality is crucial for successful event matchmaking and this new section gives you a great snapshot on the quality of the data you have provided from where you can start collecting more data and make necessary changes to the matchmaking rules to increase the coverage of them.
To make it actionable, we’ve added a suggestions section that shows you ways to improve your data quality so that you can set your event up for maximum success on the Grip Platform.
New data tables – we’ve simplified our data tables to no longer require horizontal scroll and are highlighting the data that is most important in the table.
New full profile design – we’ve created a whole new full profile that includes a real-time preview of the profile and improved editing functionality to update profiles if required.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that current signals around Artificial Intelligence are mixed.
Is it an over-hyped ‘new tech thing’? Or is it going to somehow Take Over Humanity As We Know It (like in the Terminator or Matrix movies)?
The reality is not quite so dramatic. Where it does get exciting is how Artificial Intelligence is shaking up processes that are currently inefficient or simply very random, such as networking in the events space.
And that is where Grip comes in.
Event matchmaking is currently a tedious data-entry process, usually only available at the biggest events. There’s plenty of legwork for organizers, getting through thousands of registrant’s names, often manually matching them for relevance. Attendees have reams of paperwork to get through to indicate their interests. And that’s before the meetings are scheduled.
Attendees who aren’t matched and scheduled, aren’t the meet-and-mingle type, or don’t already have an established network, may turn up at a large trade conferences disoriented and disengaged, despite organizers’ best efforts.
Using social media data from established networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, Grip offers attendees from the newest conference delegates to the seasoned old-hand a personalized networking experience, without the drudgery of form-filling. (Some of our attendees have called it ‘revolutionary’.)
Pre-event meetings with Grip happen after both parties have indicated a mutual interest in each other’s areas of business, and agreed to a timeslot to meet. This can keep changing as often as both parties need it to.
At the event, our AI takes attendee preferences and curates suggestions from the attendee namelist, based on mutual interests. So no one has to scroll through 5,000 names to find, say, 5 that they might want to meet.
Attendees also network in real time. That means that, in the midst of the event, they can ‘swipe right’ (that’s a ‘Yes’) on individuals on their personalized list whom they’d be interested to meet. Depending on how they interact with that list, a fresh set of contacts could be suggested.
Everyone, including celebrity attendees and speakers, has as much privacy as they can handle, with a curated list based on their indicated networking preferences, ensuring that only the right business prospects get connected. (Get the details here. And when we mean AI, we don’t mean the lipservice stuff. We mean the game-changing stuff.)
Under the hood, Grip’s Artificial Intelligence Matchmaking Engine combines algorithms, contextual vectors and natural language processing to interpret data from multiple sources including social media profiles and usage patterns.
Data is used to suss out networking intent, and how well that was satisfied. Users are anonymous to each other until and unless they indicate they are both ‘Interested’ to meet. And private messages between attendees are private.
When we provide insights — at an aggregated level — to event organizers and sponsors, it enables them to know which parts of their program were the most effective, and where they got the best return on their investment from.
Artificial Intelligence won’t replace human-to-human interaction. Grip doesn’t replace the random serendipitous encounter by the snack bar. It enhances it. Not leaving networking to chance means — no attendee will have to wonder if they’re in the right place, at the right time, to meet the right person. Ever.
Any event professional who wants to be at the top of their game has to consistently find ways to revolutionize their attendee’s experience. Artificial Intelligence is transforming the events industry as a whole, yet a key part of the attendee experience is still the most ‘human’ one — networking.
Up to this point, event networking has been a slightly overlooked area. While the days are over when event-goers were thrown together with a generous bar tab and expected to ‘mingle’, notions of ‘exposure to prospects’ and ‘creating the right atmosphere’ for meaningful connections are still fuzzy.
Consistently getting the human-to-human connection right – appropriately and meaningfully – is what turns a ‘regular’ attendee event experience into something revolutionary.
Here at Grip we focus on getting that connection right. Through personalizing the networking experience with Artificial Intelligence, we’ve facilitated about a million connections so far (and counting).
Here’s an insight into some of the key networking personality traits we’ve encountered, and how you can use an understanding of them to revolutionize your own attendees’ experiences.
Time savers have signed up to the event because they want a tangible ROI on the cost of attending the event. With them, the saying ‘time is money’ is not a cliche. They could be start-ups looking for a partnership, sales looking to capture a business lead, exhibitors looking for a customer — but they’re looking to make the most of their time.
Help them schedule meetings before the event even begins, to boost networking productivity.
“The meetings would have taken at least the first day of the conference to arrange – but (with Grip) I’ve been able to arrange them a week in advance.” — Max Davies-Gilbert, Director, Enemigo
Closely related to Time-savers are the Curators. These are the folk who believe in scheduling good quality meetings, not lots of them. It’s easy to collect or ‘swipe’ as many business cards as possible, but Curators know that a staggering 87% of leads at tradeshows are not followed up on, and they want to use their time and resources better.
“The app helps you clarify which potential meetings you want to have… 5 out of 6 meetings I’ve had are quality meetings; I’ve had 8 yesterday and 8 today, so it’s been pretty good.” — Matthew Servini, CEO, The Craft Distilling business
With a completely different work set-up – open offices and mobile workstations – and a job that entails being constantly on-the-go, the Restless would prefer not to be tied down to lots of paperwork, or logging in to an app multiple times and updating it on – heaven forbid – a desktop. They live on their smartphones and tablets, so nimble, easily-managed mobile technology is the way to go.
“Grip was the ideal solution to introduce both an app and a matchmaking solution to the young and mobile Imbibe Live audience. We needed a solution which would work easily through their phones, especially as due to the nature of their jobs they are not at their desks very often.” — Sonja Van Praag, Publishing & Events Director, Imbibe
Most of the hard work in networking involves that element of uncertainty – trying to get the right connection in the right place and time. With the right app, attendees won’t have to leave their networking to random chance. Grip, in fact, uses Artificial Intelligence to make a science of serendipity, ensuring that attendees not only meet the most relevant people to their business, but also – potentially – unexpected connections that are useful.
“Usually I’m struggling to find the right person at the right time… Now, with the app, I’m not only setting up meetings with people who wanted to meet, but also meeting new people whom you might not have otherwise bumped into, which is revolutionary.” — Philip Harding, Founder, Dingle
As an events professional, you’re likely to be more of an extrovert — you like to get out there, meet people and get things done. But not all attendees are the same. For some, ‘networking opportunities’ at an event can sound more like a threat than a promise — even if networking is part of their job. And who doesn’t have days when they aren’t up to the demanding task of meeting and mingling?
Cover all the bases with a networking app that ensures parties mutually interested in each other can connect without an awkward handshake or spammy meeting request in sight. A ‘Handshake’ in the Grip app signals to both parties that there’s interest to meet on both sides.
Tip – This works really well with VIP attendees too – they get to define how much networking they want to do, and with whom.
“It’s quite easy to meet up, because they have an interest in you, and you have an interest in them. You have the Handshake, so you assume you both have an interest.” — Caitlin Frost, Sales Manager, GlassCo
Of the million and one things to do for an event, the ‘UX’ – User Experience – of an event app is rarely on organizers’ priority lists. But attendees now expect more, and appreciate a well-designed app. Good UX makes the difference between an app that attendees download – and then promptly ignore – versus one whose interface is easy to understand and fun to use.
“Grip is very easy to navigate, and connecting with people is quite a low barrier process; very few obstacles… This is one of the best experiences digitally, both in terms of correspondence but also in terms of UX.” — James Sandrini, Director, Eight Point One
Grip empowers attendees, exhibitors and hosted buyers to make meaningful connections at events. Contact us to see if we can provide an event app and professional matchmaking solution that suits your event.
We are Grip, a professional networking app for events. Grip empowers professionals to achieve their networking potential. The Grip matchmaking app connects delegates, speakers, and exhibitors in a fast and simple way.