January 16, 2024
By John Hunter

Pulling off an epic exhibition is tricky business. So much can go wrong between the venue, layout, promo, budget, and million details. But when all the pieces come together, attendees are wowed, brands shine, and business goals are smashed.  

In this blog, we'll spill the beans on how to nail exhibition management and share inside tips to make your exhibition pop. This blog will save you from major drama during the prep and help you throw exhibitions that visitors, sponsors, and exhibitors love.   

So get ready for the exclusive scoop that takes your exhibition from "meh" to magnificent. Let's make your next exhibition one for the books. 

Conference Engagement

What is Exhibition Management?

Exhibition management refers to organising, planning, and executing exhibitions such as trade shows, conferences, and other events. It involves coordinating various aspects like: 

  • Selecting and preparing the venue: This includes factors like size, layout, facilities, accessibility, etc. Proper venue selection and preparation are key to the success of an exhibition. 
  • Sales and marketing: Promoting the exhibition, selling booth space to exhibitors, attracting attendees, and managing registrations. 
  • Logistics and operations: Managing setup/teardown, scheduling, health and safety, crowd control, parking, electricity, Wi-Fi, etc. 
  • Supplier and contractor management: Hiring and coordinating with vendors for construction, lighting, catering, security, and more. 
  • Budgeting and finance: Estimating costs, managing exhibition revenues, tracking ROI. 
  • Staffing: Recruiting, training, and managing staff for set up, registration, guest services, etc. 
  • Exhibitor management: Supporting and streamlining exhibitor tasks and communication to provide maximum event value. 
  • Onsite management: Overall supervision during the exhibition, including attendee management, to ensure everything runs smoothly. 
  1. Legal and regulatory compliance: Ensuring the exhibition meets safety codes, laws, insurance requirements, etc. 

Why is Exhibition Management Important?

The Global Exhibition Market is Forecasted to likely reach a multimillion-dollar valuation by 2030 with an unexpected CAGR between 2023 and 2030. 

The goal of exhibition management is to deliver a successful event (whether in-person or virtual exhibition) that meets the business objectives keeps stakeholders satisfied, and enhances the brand image. Good exhibition management minimises risks and problems through systematic planning and preparation. It helps:

  • Ensure the overall success of the exhibition through oversight of logistics and operations
  • Facilitate communication and collaboration between organisers, exhibitors, vendors, venue, attendees
  • Provide strategic oversight of the event goals and objectives
  • Allow exhibitors to focus on their booth display and exhibiting
  • Establish the event's brand and position in the market
  • Manage budgeting and financial planning for the exhibition
  • Oversee marketing and promotion of the exhibition
  • Coordinate the exhibitor acquisition and management process 
Exhibition Management

Traditional Exhibition vs. Trade Exhibition

Exhibitions are broadly categorised into traditional consumer exhibitions and trade exhibitions targeting businesses. While the core purpose of marketing and sales is similar, there are some key differences between these two models:

 Traditional exhibitions are focused on consumers and aim to showcase products, build brand awareness, and generate sales. Trade shows, on the other hand, connect businesses with other industry players. In fact, 64% of exhibitors plan to exhibit at more trade shows in 2023. And it’s not hard to see why—trade shows focus more on networking, lead generation, industry learning, and B2B marketing.  

The table below summarises some of the main parameters that differentiate these two exhibition formats: 

ParameterTraditional ExhibitionTrade Exhibition
AttendeesThe general public, B2C companiesIndustry professionals, B2B companies
ExhibitorsCompanies showcasing products/services to consumersCompanies showcasing products/services to other businesses
FocusMarketing and sales to end consumersNetworking, lead generation, industry updates
EntryOften free for attendeesTypically, paid registration for attendees
Booth costsLower, affordable for small businessesHigher focus on large industry players
ActivitiesProduct displays, entertainment, contestsConferences, seminars, business meetings
ExamplesAuto shows, home and garden showsTechnology trade shows, manufacturing expos

Types of Exhibitions

Exhibitions are organised for various purposes and target audiences. The main exhibition formats can be categorised based on the nature of the content, attendees, and business objectives. The exhibition format determines factors like venue, audience, activities, revenue models, and more. Here are five types of exhibitions: 

1. Trade Exhibitions:

  • The target audience is B2B, focused on specific industries
  • Companies showcase products/services to generate leads, sales
  • Facilitate industry networking and knowledge sharing
  • Venues are convention centers, exhibit halls
  • Revenue from display booth rentals 

2. Consumer Exhibitions:

  • The target audience is B2C, the general public
  • Companies showcase new products, prototype inventions
  • Build brand awareness, gauge consumer interest
  • Venues are expo centers, event halls
  • Revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships 

3. Art Exhibitions:

  • Display artworks - paintings, sculptures, installations, etc.
  • Held in art galleries, museums, and cultural institutions
  • Curated to build narratives and engage audiences
  • Promote artists, sell artworks, raise brand visibility
  • Revenue from artwork sales, entry tickets 

4. Interpretive Exhibitions:

  • Display historical artifacts, scientific items
  • Require audience interaction for interpretation
  • The focus is education, spreading awareness
  • Often organised by museums, educational institutions
  • Revenue from entry tickets, public funding 

5. Digital Exhibitions:

  • Online exhibition of physical venues
  • Virtual viewing of art galleries, museums, etc.
  • Interactive platforms for multimedia experiences
  • Wider reach, remote accessibility
  • Revenue from subscription fee 
Conference Expo

Key Steps Involved in Exhibition Management 

  1. Select a Captivating Theme

The foundation of your exhibition is its theme or narrative. It's the cornerstone of your exhibition planning. Choose something that will draw your visitors in and keep them engaged.

  1. Secure the Ideal Venue

The location of your exhibition is key. It's a vital part of the exhibition organisation process. Find a space that has the right ambience and all the essential facilities. 

  1. Design Your Layout

Work out where each exhibit will be placed, ensuring a natural flow for visitors. Trade show management software solutions can help you do that. 

  1. Ramp Up the Promotion

Spread the word far and wide—on your website, social media, print ads, and emails. It's a significant part of your marketing strategy to get people excited about attending. 

  1. Sort Out the Logistics

Handle all the behind-the-scenes details like deliveries, installation, utilities, and insurance. This is where event logistics come into play. 

  1. Monitor the Budget 

Exhibitions can be a significant investment, so tracking your income and expenses is essential to ensure exhibition success. 

  1. Train Your Team 

Ensure your team is knowledgeable and approachable. They play a crucial role in attendee engagement. 

  1. Design Striking Displays 

Use lighting, text, and graphics creatively in your booth design to make each exhibit pop. 

  1. Create Interactive Experiences

Incorporate hands-on elements like workshops and demos to make the experience more engaging. 

Managing an exhibition involves many moving parts, from the early stages of event planning to the final touches on the day. You can ensure your exhibition succeeds with careful planning, a clear marketing strategy, and a focus on attendee engagement. 

Exhibition Management

Exhibition Management Best Practices

Executing well-organised exhibitions necessitates that exhibition managers plan, maintain communication with all stakeholders, and adhere to crucial best practices to enhance the visitor experience. 

  • Setting Goals and Monitoring Budget: Aligning the exhibition's objectives with the broader business goals lays the groundwork for planning the exhibition and establishing performance metrics. Budget planning and setting event objectives assist exhibition managers in monitoring costs and determining the return on investment (ROI). 
  • Utilizing Automation Tools: Managing large-scale exhibitions involves balancing numerous responsibilities. Selecting appropriate event management tools enables managers to automate repetitive tasks and increase efficiency. These tools can address various facets of exhibition planning, including ticketing, webinars, live streaming, marketing, attendee management, check-ins, networking, analytics, and gathering feedback. 
  • Engaging Attendees: Identifying strategies to enhance audience engagement and satisfaction is crucial for a successful event. Exhibitions often incorporate polling, Q&A sessions, live chats, and gamification to captivate visitors. 
  • Crafting Personalised and Unforgettable Experiences: Tailoring the entire journey for attendees delights them and encourages their participation in future exhibitions. Customised agendas, meetups, and themed networking sessions effectively individualise exhibitions and create lasting impressions. 

Bonus Tip: Leveraging Technology

Event planner software equipped with event registration software features can help you do all the above and more. Whether it’s a virtual expo or an offline one, technology can help you: 

  • Create branded event websites and streamline registrations
  • Build an interactive 3D environment that engages attendees
  • Upload, access, and manage documents and forms
  • Coordinating staff and planning schedules for the entire team
  • Gathering event feedback 

Bring Your Exhibition to Life

Exhibition management is an art and science—blending meticulous coordination with human-centered experiences. When grounded in best practices yet infused with innovative vision, exhibitions become powerful platforms for brands. 

In this blog, we covered some of the basics, like logistics, promotion, budgeting, and more. The exhibition gauntlet may be tough, but you now have strategies to smash it out of the park. So, get out there, be bold, and deliver exhibitions that rock attendees' worlds. 

John Hunter

John Hunter

John is the Senior Manager of Event Cloud Content Marketing at Cvent. He has extensive copywriting experience across a diverse set of industries, including broadcast television, retail advertising, associations, higher education, and corporate PR.

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