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How To Develop an Event Program For Exhibitions

How To Develop an Event Program For Exhibitions

By Lila Cailles

How can you develop an event program for exhibitions?

  • Step One: determine the feasibility of the exhibit
  • Step Two: conceptualize preliminary design details
  • Step Three: finalize the detailed design
  • Step Four: execution and production

Unlike bazaar events with retail commodities and products, planning for exhibitions requires well-communicated ideas, information, as well as emotions and brand values. Although there is no one-size-fits-all planning method for exhibitions, there are helpful and general guidelines that event planners may utilize.

Typically, the planning begins with determining if the exhibition will yield value for the company until the last stage of strategy implementation and production. Here is a step-by-step process of developing an event program to help reap the benefits of a successful and seamless implementation of plans and execution at your exhibition

Step One: Determine the Feasibility of the Exhibit

Close up of people in a conference room having a meeting

The feasibility phase of event program planning entails brainstorming of all ideas from the organizing team. At this stage, the feasibility of the event in terms of cost and resources must be laid out before proceeding to the actual detailed planning. Many brands commit the mistake of skipping the feasibility assessment process due to the deadlines and availability of the key people involved in the event. As a result, plenty of factors, especially a return on investment, are sacrificed.

Develop a statement of purpose that outlines functions, goals, objectives, intended audience, and general scope of work to easily identify if the exhibition is fit for the allotted budget and available resources. To put it simply, companies must be able to know what the exhibit is supposed to do and for whom.

Take the example of a heavy equipment exhibition. The heavy equipment distributor must be able to attract the right market for their products such as road rollers and wheel loaders. Typically, construction companies are the intended audience for this kind of exhibition. The distributor must determine if it is feasible to conduct an exhibition considering the cost and resources.

Step Two: Conceptualize Preliminary Design Details

Side view of a businessman typing on his laptop

From the assembly of team members to the evaluation of the design, these planning activities are done in this stage of the event program. The stage begins with the discussion of the design followed by the collection of ideas. Once the ideas are established, a rough schedule and budget are formed.

The schedule can be done through the use of a Gantt chart format which includes goals as well as targeted dates and results. Through this, you will be able to have full control of the planning process. Breakpoints are inserted in-between stages to facilitate control. As the design continues to be developed, the cost estimates should also change especially if new resource acquisition is injected.

For instance, for a heavy equipment exhibition, utilize the ingress and egress as preliminary details of the event program planning. Ingress refers to the entry of road rollers, forklifts, and wheel loaders to the property or venue. The activity should be done at least a day or two before the exhibition day to prevent any delays. Displaying the heavy equipment products three days or a week before the exhibition is more ideal compared to the failure to showcase them due to unexpected delays.

The egress, on the other hand, refers to the exit of the equipment from the venue. This task is usually done on the day of the exhibition after the display and presentation is over.

Step Three: Finalize the Detailed Design

A man planning an event program

After the preliminary design has been written down and accounted for, combine everything into one final file. This should give event planners the opportunity to conduct a thorough secondary evaluation. With this, it will be easier to insert more activities, goals, and key people. Conversely, taking out any unnecessary costs coming from irrelevant goals or replacing them with more cost-effective goals can be done at this stage. Before you move on to the next stage, you must take a good look at the detailed design as this is the last stage of conceptualization.

Step Four: Execution and Production

A hand holding a walkie talkie

On the day of the exhibition, maintenance and control are critical activities that should be carried out by key people. These people must be part of the planning process to prevent any confusion and mistakes. While communication is always necessary during events, there may be times that one member must decide on the matter at hand.

Going back to the planning process, members must all be knowledgeable of the ins and outs of the event program. To have full control of the situation, make sure to have a script that everyone in the team must follow. On the other hand, maintenance should be laid out at the same time the script is. The rules must ensure everyone’s safety. For instance, affirming the audience to remain calm through the use of a battery-powered mic presents the best solution in the face of a minor incident.

Key Takeaway

The key to developing an event program that effectively delivers the message of the brand depends on how well the purpose and scope of the exhibition are established. The main reason for ensuring the feasibility of an exhibition is to know whether it will deliver value to the company or not.

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