Each organiser needs to make a decision based on the market in which they operate and in consultation with their industry. I do not believe that one approach suits all.
I agree that life for the exhibitor is often made easier with colour-coded badges. It is something we are looking at for foodservice show Hospitality Week at the NEC in January 2003. But in some markets problems arise in trying to categorise in a meaningful way where the visitors often cross boundaries.
In the foodservice and hospitality markets where we operate, job titles are too diverse to categorise and often individuals cover more than one market sector - they can own pubs, hotels and restaurants. I have visions of rainbow badging! Perhaps this actually makes it more complicated for the exhibitor, incorrect assumptions are made and potential opportunities are lost.
Where exhibitions win over other forms of marketing is in delivering a forum for face-to-face contact, allowing the supplier to adapt its message to fit the person they are addressing. The exhibitor must talk to as many visitors as possible in order to get a return on their investment so stand staffing levels need to be an appropriate reflection of expected visitor numbers.
Whether or not badge coding is in place all staff, including temporary personnel, should be taught to assess quickly who is a potentially fruitful prospect.
This can be achieved with one or two open questions. It is the sort of technique that good exhibition training will convey (The Association of Exhibition Organisers run these courses).
By talking to a visitor you may not believe is immediately relevant you may well uncover new potential business or a referral.
Claire Finch, show director, Fresh RM
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