The Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) hosted their first event on 14 October at the Ticketpro Dome. This Exhibitor Training Day was hosted as a complimentary service for all AAXO-affiliated exhibitors, and focused on how to maximise the power of exhibitions as a marketing medium and how to measure exhibition success.

Industry experts gathered together to deliver presentations on how to make exhibitions work from you, covering all areas in pre-show planning, stand management and staff training, during show time and post-show engagement.

Highlights of the day included:

  • Selecting the right exhibition to reach the right target market
    Gary Corin
    , managing director of Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery discussed the key questions one should ask regarding reaching your target market.
    Corin says you need to first establish who your target market is and what you are trying to achieve with your product or service in order to use your medium (exhibition) accordingly.
    It is vital to review the exhibitions available to you to find one which will meet your marketing objectives, as well as determining the various exhibitor and visitor profiles.
    “Choosing an exhibition is a lot of PT and it is hard work. But if you’re prepared to do the PT, you put yourself in line to get the most out of your exhibition,” he concluded.
  • Promote your stand via marketing, PR and advertising campaign
    Managing director of Exposure Marketing, Projeni Pather, delivered a vibrant and informative presentation on all the marketing, PR and advertising factors that go into the success of an exhibition.
  • Pre-expo: Projeni advises to analyse the exhibition you have chosen and look at the organiser’s marketing campaign as well as to develop a formal marketing plan of your own. A vital part of your pre-exhibition strategy should entail getting your brand out there and creating hype around your stand. Tell both new and existing clients that you will be there, take full advantage of your exhibition offering such as expo guides, listings and social media competitions and make use of the press office to get the media involved.
    At the expo: Make sure that your stand design reflects what you stand for and be careful what you hand out. Ensure that your staff manning the stand understand your marketing message and objectives, and choose a staff uniform that connects with your brand.
    Post-expo: Your job does not end after the exhibition. Take charge of the leads you have generated and follow up. Deliver a post-show report to ensure that your brand isn’t forgotten and announce the winners of competitions, this shows you are a credible brand.
  • Greening your stand
    Greening guru Justin Hawes of Scan Display discussed ways in which exhibitors can green their stands by referring to the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
    Among the greening efforts one can take is to make use of locally sourced products and services, as well as using a modular design which can be reused at future exhibitions.
    “Exhibition and events are my life, and greening is a passion of mine,” he added.

“I think it can only be positive,” says Carol Weaving, managing director of Thebe Reed Exhibitions, speaking of the impact the AAXO training days will have on the industry. “At the end of the day, the better success an exhibitor has, the better success an organiser has.”

The importance of the training day was echoed by visitors. “The AAXO training day is very needed, as there are insufficient exhibitors who really understand what is expected of them during an exhibition. However, I think this day would have been more beneficial if exhibitors were educated not on what to do, but on how to do it,” says Helen Brewer of the MICE Academy.

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