Facilitating Attendee-Exhibitor Networking During Off-Show Hours

The International Woodworking Fair, held at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center, worked with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau to offer special deals and incentives for attendees and exhibitors to facilitate off-site networking. A "deal of the day" is being offered in partnership with the local hotel and restaurant community, attractions, and the Georgia World Congress Center.

For example, notes Jim Wulfekuhle, director of marketing for the IWF, show attendees can get "$3 beers at the Hilton; the Sheraton has appetizers for $3; the Marriott Marquis has some great deals." Attendees also might be offered 20-percent or 30-percent off at local restaurants.

"Wednesday and Friday, we have happy hour in the Terraces Restaurant at the Georgia World Congress Center, with $4 beers," he says. "So we are keeping food and beverage costs down, and we’re promoting meet-ups at the hotels for attendees."

The show sends an e-mail out to every attendee and exhibitor staying at each hotel. (So those staying at the Sheraton, for example, all get an e-mail pushing the food and beverage deals of the day at the Sheraton).

"The point is for our exhibitors and attendees to meet up at those bars and restaurants at each of the hotels," Wulfekuhle explains. "Our job as organizers is to continue to facilitate networking opportunities—whether we can do that online or offline or through social media."

Editor’s Note: For more growth strategies from the IWF and four other major shows, check out the feature “Effective Tips for Strategic Planning and Investment” in EXPO’s Septmeber issue. Coming to your mailbox soon.