Question - How did you start to create your current trader database?
Did you spend hours searching the web for potential exhibitor’s websites, visit other events, track down show guides of competitor events you admire and speak to their exhibitors? Maybe you knew a good proportion of your traders beforehand. However, as soon as you went 'live', your competitor events will have seen your event and started speaking to your traders!
Technology's great - its made trader searching even easier for event organisers. Event social media accounts and feeds are there for fellow event organisers, visitors and traders, to browse through. Event listings websites also speed up this process. So 'protecting' a trader database, is a complete waste of time, and is just not worth stressing over. Not displaying your trader list on your website or in a show guide, or even refusing to engage with them on social media is old hat, naive and to be honest a bit narrow minded of an organsier from both the visitors and traders experience side alike. If a competing event wants to know who trades at your event - they will find out!
Listing your traders online and in show guides actually assists your event, which business does not like a little extra publicity? Listing them also assists your visitors in better planning their time at your event, and of course your exhibitors, and all their followers, can interact with you on social media. Just make sure traders are encouraged to reciprocate the linking and social media posting!
Going to visit other events and speaking to traders, is in my opinion, still a must do, despite technology being readily available. It contributes a good start to the trader organiser relationship, and puts names to faces. You can see the quality of a traders product, their display, their staffs product knowledge, and with food and drink, you have the opportunity to taste the produce too! So many new event organisers put quantity over quality - that's a sure fire way to stop an events success in its tracks Julie Whalley, Event Owl Founder, previous multiple event’s organiser
It should be a fun task, not a chore, to go to other events occasionally for ideas, and in many cases provides reassurance that you are doing things right! Sitting at a desk, trawling the net, does not provide you with a full picture about a trader either. Sure, seeing repeat acceptance into a top event by other organisers can be seen as a good indicator, however, if you're not careful, Internet searching eats away at your time, and time as we all know, is money. Competition out there in event land is getting fiercer too, technology is playing a major part in it from marketing down to exhibitor processing and making life that bit easier for the trader and visitor too.
Organiser users of our own system have given testimonials on how this new 'sharing' of trader information has benefited their events. Being overly protective of your trader database is something you need to 'get over it already'. Traders choose which events they feel warrant sending an application to. Those that promote them and interact with them online, are much more attractive than those who play their cards too tight to their chest, and thankfully for traders and visitors, these are a minority!
However, how you make your event of interest to them both is up to you. Just don't rest on your laurels.