1) Take the free stuff
The sweets because… well, they’re sweets. But most of the other things you can pick up are merchandise and have contact details of various companies. You’re going to be bombarded with options, you’ll likely struggle to remember it all. (BTW, when MAGNIV are at exhibitions, we provide photo-magnets. They’re personalised pictures of you, so don’t forget to collect them on your way out!)
2) Don’t get distracted by the free stuff
I know, it’s a contradiction of #1 but if you needed pens, you’d go to WHSmith. Leaflets and Frisbees are all well and good but you need to talk to the exhibiters and see what they’re about beyond the decorations on the table. This brings me on to my next point…
think about how you shop at department stores… treat the exhibition in the same way”
3) Ask questions!
If you were recruiting staff to work for you, you’d be asking the questions, they’d be nervous for the interview. Stop the sales pitches and push back. You’re hiring someone, giving them a big fat cheque and trusting them with your special day. Ask them about previous events. Ask them to tell you about a time something went wrong and how they solved it. Ask them what their contingency plans are. Ask them why they’re different from the seven other people all offering the same service.
Having a “wander round” means you’ll miss things, they’ll miss you, everyone loses. Most exhibition hosts try to separate people offering similar services. It’s great for the exhibitors but a disaster for visitors!
Department Stores aren’t called “Everything You Could Possibly Want Stores” – even though that’s what they are. Why? Well think about how you shop. It’s easy for shoppers to visit the different departments. First go to the shoes, then shirts, then skirts, then move on to kitchenware and when you need a break, the food court has lots of options all in one place.
Treat the exhibition in the same way. Take a look at the plan, visit providers in categories of services. Run between all the photographers, then the DJs, then the toastmasters, etc… (MAGNIV are fairly unique, with no significant competitors in the UK. But there are alternatives too – you could check the stand out at the same time as the photobooths, caricature artists or photographers).
5) Take notes
Good exhibitors often try to “data capture”. That means they get you to fill out your details on a form and it’s nice and easy for them to follow up later. You should do the same! Make a table, print it off and take a clipboard. (You’ll get lots of free pens anyway, guaranteed). It could look like this:
6) Don’t expect prices straight away
Some people will be selling products and novelties with fixed prices. Some will have different packages. Others will tailor prices to you and need more information to give a price – which is sometimes difficult to do on the spot. Instead, ask for a price range but keep in mind it could change significantly. Also, remember not everyone at the stand will be able to give you a price – sometimes people have large teams who can tell you all about what happens on the night, but aren’t involved in the pricing and booking.
7) There’s no rush to book!
Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to call a supplier back that week. Take your notes so you can review them later in peace and quiet.
8) See an opportunity? Take it!
Sometimes there are very unique providers offering packages only if you book on the day. It’s a classic sales technique but it can work to your advantage. I’d advise taking a laptop or tablet on the day in your bag for this very reason. If you’re tempted to put down a deposit, you should go sit in your car where it’s quiet, or in the coffee shop where there is wifi and do some research. Call a few friends if you know they’ve used the supplier. Search facebook groups where people share recommendations. Check out if there is competition and how they compare! If you’ve taken a full 20 minutes (at least) to research and you’re satisfied, sign on the dotted line. But this brings me to…
9) Don’t rely on “popping-in”
Wedding exhibitions are trips for a few hours. Make sure you have plenty of time – I wouldn’t plan to go anywhere afterwards, not if you want to see the live acts, speak to different suppliers, make notes, get around strategically and make the most of your day. Should you find that you go early and actually finish quickly? Reward yourself for your event planning awesomeness by going home and curling up on the sofa with hot chocolate and a feel-good family film if it’s a winter exhibition or by taking an ice-cream sundae to the garden if it’s a summer fayre!
Help others by sharing your experience after your event. Make a long post on your social media platforms not only thanking your brilliant suppliers, but specifying why you chose them and you chose them and how they were incredible. Send it by email to the suppliers to – they’ll be touched to hear it!
Dror Wayne is a freelance events entertainer; pianist, MC, dancer and more. He co-founded MAGNIV, providing photo-magnets at events across the UK, where he now runs Sales and Marketing. He offers consultation in management and event planning and coaching in writing and delivering speeches.
The Jewish News Simchas Live! Wedding and Bar & Bat Mitzvah exhibition will take place on Sunday 22 October 2017 at the Village Hotel Elstree. Entrance is free with no pre-registration required.