If your sports event doesn’t include some kind of an expo, trade show or exhibitor area, you’re missing out. A recent survey reported that exhibit space sales are on the grow, and only projected to get larger.
According to figures released by Exhibit Surveys, Trade Show Executive and Lippman Connects, 53 percent of respondents indicated attendance growth for their most recent event. And while that figure mainly pertains to trade associations, it represents a vital, growing segment in the sports marketplace as well.
The full survey document can be found here.
National tournaments and championships have long used an exhibitor area (often known as a village) to showcase products for that sport (or in the case of events like those aimed at seniors, toward that demographic). The U.S. Open in Flushing, New York, for example, has hosted a village of exhibitors on its grounds and the National Senior Games promotes its Athletes’ Village, usually using a convention center where entrants can pick up their registration materials and other information. And almost every large running event (marathons being a key part) present an expo with products like running shoes, apparel, dietary supplements, training aids and more.
Even at the state and regional level, however, expos are a good bet:
They provide brick and mortar stores with a way to market their products directly to athletes who might otherwise rely on the Internet
It exposes a city's business community to a targeted audience of visitors
If they are offered to the public, expos can bring in even more value for both exhibitors (increased awareness and sales) and the sport itself (more spectators and a growing awareness that can lead to increased registration)
They build revenue for the sports event
With growth and publicity, they can become their own attraction
Of course, it’s not enough just to decide to offer an expo or trade show; making the community aware of it is key. Again, the survey provides information in that respondents indicated increased use of social media, improved targeting of email, improved content of email and improved educational programming were the main initiatives taken to grow their attendance.
To break it down, nine out of every 10 events are using social media, digital advertising, e-mail marketing, event website and database management marketing tools. Another eight out of 10 are using video production, public relations, direct mail and print advertising. However, only half (52 percent, actually) are using telemarketing. Six out of 10 (59 percent) expect their social media budget to increase and four out of ten (43 percent) expect their email marketing budget to increase.
While many event owners want to go with the least expensive option (social media posts), the survey was quick to note, “Use of social media is a work in progress. Six out of ten feel their use of social media is only somewhat effective, while only 30 percent believe it is highly effective.”
The analytics must also be considered; likes and shares don’t necessarily translate into measurable increases. More than half (60 percent) measure the success of their social media tools not only by number of followers, but by attendee registrations and content views. Facebook and Twitter are considered highly effective social media sites by respectively.