Email the editor

More than 60 per cent of exhibitors fail to follow up leads, research finds

Event technology suppliers RefTech created a fake event management company to conduct the research

Pictured: Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer at RefTech

Independent research conducted at a major international business tourism exhibition has revealed that 62 per cent of exhibitors did not follow up on new business leads collected.

Event technology suppliers RefTech created a fake event management company, with website and business cards and a fake RFP for an international event. RefTech then visited 106 stands belonging to a range of suppliers, destinations and venues looking for help to create the event.

Of the 38 per cent that did follow up, only half (19 per cent) responded with a personalised email, while the remaining half (19 per cent) simply added the visitor’s details to a mailing list. Seven of the stands visited totally ignored the visitor – despite her waiting on the stand for around five minutes. Having a scanner seemed to help – of the companies that scanned the visitor’s badge, 50 per cent followed up.

Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer at RefTech, said: “Our research shows that exhibitors still aren’t getting the basics right. There are so many tech products being promoted to help exhibition organisers and exhibitors, but they need to concentrate on the basics – simply to follow up on leads generated from attending.

“This research is not in isolation; it echoes results from past research we have conducted at events and personal experience too. Recently I visited a stand at a tech exhibition and was genuinely interested in placing an order for an expensive piece of tech, but the sales person didn’t follow up so I ended up purchasing it from a competitor instead.”

He added that companies have an over reliance on email – not one of the exhibitors who responded did so with a phone call.

He said: “Are we all now too busy to follow up a customer lead with a simple phone call or are we too cautious because a call may seem like an intrusion? Exhibiting companies should at least ask a visitor how they would like to be followed up; making a simple call could enable companies to stand out from the competition.

“It was interesting to see that half of the companies who hired scanners did actually follow up – but that could be because having a scanner was part of a fuller lead follow up process. But this figure also means that despite investing in technology specifically designed to capture leads, half of the companies did not use it properly. I’m saddened by this but not surprised. Why would a company pay thousands to exhibit and then not react to the leads generated from the activity? It’s madness.”

  • Emma Cartmell of CHS Group 04/03/2017

    Great piece of research Simon! It's so disappointing for us exhibition organisers to hear research like this. People invest thousands in to their attendance at shows and following up on leads is as important as attending the show in the first place. I believe that exhibitors aren't necessarily ignoring the importance of following up, they just 'get busy' again when they get back to the office and all of their valuable leads get pushed to one side. My advice is always to set aside a day or two in your diary as soon as you book to attend a show - then treat that time as if it were a huge pitch and can't be moved/cancelled. Then you have allocated time set aside to do that all important follow up.

Facebook Share Twitter Share LinkeIn Share