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.
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.