Digital trade fairs: More efficient, more time to talk

Together with Ungerboeck Software, the Dutch trade fair company RAI Amsterdam has set up an online service platform for its exhibitors.

Elicium conference centre: the heart of RAI Amsterdam. (Photo: RAI)
Elicium conference centre: the heart of RAI Amsterdam. (Photo: RAI)

The new one-stop shop improves customer support and optimises communication. To prepare the ground for the project, RAI conducted a survey of its exhibitors. They wanted to find out how the online shop could be improved. Both marketing and technical aspects were taken into account. The findings were translated into improvements of the platform for the exhibitors. The online portal maps important customer touchpoints along the “exhibitor journey”. These touchpoints on the journey from becoming aware of the trade fair to preparing for it and, finally, implementation include emails and phone calls. The portal thus has the potential to save exhibitors and RAI a huge amount of time. It can be particularly advantageous to automate sales in the case of items and services that are obligatory and require little explanation.

The RAI online platform covers all the important areas of exhibitor management. Users don’t have to log in to different websites; they can order everything from a single portal: exhibition stands, Wi-Fi, electricity and water, furniture, decorations or additional services such as logistics or hotel bookings. In addition, high-quality images are used that give the exhibitors an even better idea of the services and items that are available. Despite the fact that all this is offered online, the human factor is by no means neglected. On the contrary, as a result of the increased efficiency of the system, the trade fair sales and service teams now have more time to talk to their customers.

The RAI online platform covers all the important areas of exhibitor management.
The RAI online platform covers all the important areas of exhibitor management.

RAI found it really useful to create “exhibitor personas” in order to help them understand the individual requirements of the exhibiting companies. These personas are essentially prototypes that characterise the people in a target group by means of attributes and user behaviour. Depending on the trade fair and type of exhibitor, different profiles were created and associated with very specific sets of requirements. In this way, the team was able to develop a better, more comprehensive understanding of customers’ expectations. 

What do these exhibitor personas look like, and what is important to them? Ungerboeck describes this using a fictitious example of an international exhibitor at a B2B trade fair organised by RAI: the customer needs travel and accommodation. Additional hotel services and possible tourism-related offers therefore become interesting. When it comes to catering and staff at the stand, the aim is to cut the costs of transport and travel. The exhibitor can be offered furniture, catering or trade fair hostesses. A link to public transport offers or information on transfers to and from the airport may also be helpful (

Author: Peter Borstel

This article was published in TFI issue 2/2017

Advantages of a one-stop shop

One of the most annoying things for exhibitors is having to log in to different websites to plan their trade fair. If every trade fair-related service is provided by a different company, planning becomes very time-consuming. It’s easier for exhibitors if these services are bundled together and made available through a single online shop. If trade fair companies fully integrate all services, they can keep all the relevant data in a single programme. That has a range of advantages:

Satisfied staff:

  • Less time taken up by data entry 
  • Efficient order processing
  • Clear, easily created contracts, orders and invoices
  • Upselling potential

Satisfied customers:

  • Everything from a single source
  • Efficient online orders
  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Visualisation of orders
  • Automatic reminders

Source: Ungerboeck


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