Utilizing matchmaking services to help the right buyers meet the right exhibitors has been a growing trend, especially in the last year. Many shows are bringing home the ROI of their events by ensuring exhibitors meet their top prospects. Here’s how it’s done.
Matchmaking software options
• Many registration/event management packages include matchmaking software as an option. You choose whether you want to activate it.
• Some registration companies offer it as an option with a registration/event management package. You pay extra to activate this function.
• A stand-alone package, customized by a developer or developed in house, not necessarily tied to other event management programs.
How it’s priced
• Included in the price of larger event management packages.
• Software licensing fee on a per-show basis, with negotiable multi-use rates.
• One basic set-up fee per show, whether as an option in a package or as a stand-alone.
• Set up fee plus $1 to $10 per user. Attendance targets are determined ahead of time, and final rates are determined after attendance figures are in. For example, a show might pay $10 per attendee for 1,000 attendees, but the fee would drop to $8 per attendee if the show attracts 2,000 attendees.
• Set up fee plus per-appointment fee, based on number of appointments set through the system.
How it works
• Mid-tech versions use registration lists and simple search engines to allow registered attendees to e-mail exhibitors with queries or requests for appointments. Exhibitors respond. These systems usually facilitate networking communities among buyers, too.
• Higher-tech programs also use key word searches, including names of sessions attendees register for, to match buyers to exhibitors and other buyers. The programs make “intelligent” recommendations and suggestions based on input from both buyers and sellers. They can facilitate individually controlled appointments or timed, face-to-face meetings between buyers and sellers in special events off the exhibit floor and/or allow exhibitors to do more targeted marketing.
Who’s in charge?
• Buyers control the interaction based on their queries to exhibitors. Exhibitors respond to set up appointments or furnish information.
• Participants’ data alerts exhibitors to potential clients and/or matches buyer and exhibitor input, alerting both to potential matches. Information stays anonymous until both parties agree to the match. They set the appointments.
• Show organizer can plan an appointment event with timed meetings. The system schedules meetings (with consent of both parties) for a duration set by show management (usually 10 minutes to half an hour). Participants can register “bonus” meetings for additional time.
Benefits to attendees
• Saves buyers time by focusing their attention on relevant exhibitors or contacts for networking.
• Allows scheduling appointments in advance and periodic updates as registration list grows.
• Provides specific reasons for participation value that can be shown to upper management.
Benefit to exhibitors
• Ensures exhibitors see the targeted, qualified clients they’re seeking to reach and increases pre- and post-show marketing ROI.
• Motivates booth staff by getting them involved individually.
• Provides periodic updates before the show and sophisticated tracking data.
Benefits to show management
• Gives more in-depth demographics reflecting the nature of business done at the show.
• Helps capture data to verify value of participation to both buyers and exhibitors, spurring future marketing and attendance.
• Offers a potential revenue stream for show management. Some shows charge fees for matchmaking. When exhibitors pay, the quality of buyers and data should reflect higher ROI.
• Helps ensure attendees who have pre-registered will attend to keep their appointments, and makes the show more valuable in the eyes of exhibitors.