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The answer will vary depending on your objectives for the show. A problem arises when the strategy you select doesn’t match your end goal.

A business that is new to the market or wanting to increase brand awareness will want more touch points at the show to catapult their database numbers and give them a base to communicate with after the show. On the flipside, a more established or specialised business, should have a more targeted approach with a message that appeals to a segment of the market and leads to more in-depth and detailed discussions. This same approach would be disastrous for a business wanting to reach a larger audience, as logistically it doesn’t work having such a small ratio of staff to visitors.

If you want visitors to be relaxed and chill out while your sales reps talk to them, you can bait them using food or drinks in a refreshment area, or a phone charging station, but be warned, this can backfire and you may end up with squatters… Housing people that are unlikely to be your end customer, but want a place to rest. You can end up with an expensive addition to the exhibition breakout areas and find you aren’t really getting a great return from your investment. Just because you appear to have people on your stand, it doesn’t mean that you have successfully achieved your dwell time goals. Ask yourself what you are offering to achieve this?

  • Does the experience assist them with their purchasing decisions, brand knowledge, education, or is it purely indulgent?
  • What do you expect in return?
  • Are you offering something your customer wants?
  • Is it a fair swap? Or just something you think they should have?

Most people do want longer dwell times from visitors at their events but there is such a thing as too long if it prevents you from servicing enough people at the show. For example, if you talk to each visitor for 15 minutes you can only talk to 4 people an hour. Disclaimer: If you only have a small number of people you want to have detailed conversations with, this may be fine as a strategy. The rest of you may want to either get more staff or become more efficient at qualifying.

There isn’t a single right way, it comes back to the behaviour you want from your visitors. Quality is important too! For people to stay on your stand they need to feel comfortable and there must be a benefit to them to stay. I believe a more accurate way to measure time on the stand is “active time” rather then dwell time, but again it comes down to your goals. Actively engaging with your brand is the way of the future.

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Let’s take a step back. People have come to the exhibition to interact with brands so let them get hands on! (When in doubt always come back to this). Teach, excite, shock or spoil them, but use it as a market research tool at the same time. Interactives are the answer. Setting up an old school stand with the aim of handing out a brochure just won’t work for much longer as the world around us has evolved so much. Something like a touch screen is really versatile as it can evolve with you as your needs change. Use it to track data, educate, as a sign-up tool or for competitions.

Ideally increasing dwell time is about getting people to interact with your brand. As any relationship, the success of it all comes back to give and take. You offer them something and they benefit by supplying something (data, time investment etc).

What experiences have caught you off guard lately? Good or bad? Why did it make you feel this way? What could have been done differently? Understanding the audiences thought process will only further arm you with the right mindset for creating experiences that really knock peoples socks off!