Are exhibitors sharing product information in a way that attendees want to consume it?

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research explored this question in its latest report, “Exhibitor Product Information Sharing Practices” and found that exhibitors and attendees are generally in sync when it comes to preferences for sharing and receiving information. The bottom line: printed materials are still the top choice.

Roughly 85 percent of exhibitors said they hand out printed brochures or catalogues at the exhibit booth, which is the preferred method of receiving information for most attendees surveyed—58 percent. Also, 52 percent of exhibitors mail printed materials after the event, and 34 percent of attendees favored this approach. Medical meetings had the highest percentage of printed handouts at exhibitions.

With regard to digital communications, 70 percent of exhibitors send e-mails after the exhibition is over, while 41 percent of attendees indicated a preference for that mode of communication.  However, just 13 percent of exhibitors gave information on USB sticks (and another 6 percent made it downloadable to a USB), while 33 percent of attendees preferred these options. Only 12 percent of exhibitors provided information via CD-ROM or disk, but 29 percent of attendees favored this. Further, 19 percent of exhibitors had scannable QR codes, which was a preference of 14 percent of attendees. Communication and IT conventions had the highest percentage of digital information sharing.

“Though results in part affirm a shift in exhibitor practices to digital methods, it is not completely the case,” said CEIR’s research director, Nancy Drapeau. “Print collateral on premise and post-event is still pervasive, and a good proportion of attendees still want print collateral when they walk the floor. So, these results clearly indicate the importance of using print options strategically along with considering which digital tactics make sense to satisfy the preferences of their target attendees.”

The effectiveness of each information-sharing method was also considered, and exhibitors rank digital methods highest. More than four out of five—82 percent—of those who offer information that is downloadable to a USB and 80 percent who send e-mails post-event report that the tactic is either “highly effective” or “effective.”

The report is based on responses to an online survey from 502 exhibitors and 419 attendees. It is available for free to members of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, and $49 for nonmembers.