Fitting the bill

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Your visitor pool has many qualities you can measure. Man or woman? Age? Do they own cars? Homes? Have kids? Earnings? The list goes on. EN wanted to find out how an organiser can use this information to optimise visitor – and hopefully exhibitor – experience on the show floor. A powerful example of the benefits of visitor profiling comes from the London International Boat Show (LIBS), which this year launched a new format and co-located with two other events in response to visitor feedback. “They wanted us to speak in much more of a boating language, they wanted to learn something, they wanted the technical low-down and they wanted to see used boats instead of just large super-yachts,” LIBS marketing manager for organiser National Boat Shows Mike Enser said. “We changed our show to offer the boaters that exact show instead of concentrating on the glitz and glamour of large boats.” LIBS was also co-located with VOS Media’s Outdoor Show and the London Bike Show and saw an impressive turnaround in visitor numbers. “By profiling audiences we can gain better insight into their needs, wants and likes and then shape the show accordingly. It means we can deliver both more highly-targeted communication and show content to ensure attendance and enjoyment,” continued Enser. “Profiling can also help organisers to identify potential partnerships. For example, joining forces with the Outdoors Show was beneficial because their audience was similar to ours.” But according to head of Upper Street Events’ The Gadget Show Live, Matt Hodgins, it is equally important not to be led astray or be solely dependent on visitor information. “This is a tool to be used in conjunction with other forms of research and should not take precedence over surveys, one-to-one consultation, analysis of feedback through social media or importantly, the first-hand experience of the oraganising team,” he said. “It is critical all additions to the event remain consistent with the central subject matter. Although profiling may indicate visitors to Gadget Show Live also like overseas travel, it would be incongruous to create a travel event within our halls. However, it might suggest travel-related gadgets would be a logical expansion opportunity.” Devil’s in the detail Before taking the leap of faith and changing show content based on the results of visitor profiling research, make sure you understand exactly what the data is telling you. “Visitor profiling should influence the content of the show but not in isolation,” said Adi Clark, data analyst and head of insight for The NEC Group. “It isn’t strong enough to say ‘we have got more women than last year so we will change the content’. It doesn’t tell you why there are more women, so you would need to do some research to find out how to change the show, if at all.” According to Clark, anyone analysing such numbers needs to be aware of several things. The first is averages: If you determine the average visitor was a 44-year old man, that doesn’t mean you should fill the floor with what appeals to 44-year old men. And when it comes to consumer shows, the ticket buyer might not be the one who attends. A show popular with 14-year olds might reveal most tickets being purchased by their parents. Finally, don’t try to find answer questions that aren’t revelant. Given a clear understanding of what the numbers reveal and more importantly what they don’t, visitor profiling can improve your event. Just beware of hidden meanings.   Any comments? Email sarah@mashmedia.net
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