What do event visitors want?

Our days are often an exchange of currency. On a basic level, we exchange work for money, out thoughts for success, our money for food or travel and our time for work. This has got me thinking, in an exhibition environment when visitors are providing us with perhaps their most important commodity of all, their time, what do they want in return?

Over more than 20 years of experience in the exhibition design industry we’ve been privy to more exhibition stand briefs then we care to count. Often, the message is focused on what the brand wants to achieve.

This is important. Without the brand being able to navigate the stand successfully, there really is no visitor experience. Secondly, everyone managing that event has a personal brief they need to fulfill. Whether this is to ensure that X amounts of leads are captured or that so many business deals are signed on the show floor.

For us, this is the easy part. As an exhibition stand design agency, it is easy to get to the route of what a brand wants to achieve from an exhibition presence. You can ask them after all.

With the visitor this can take more consideration and the question many agencies and brands alike forget to ask is: what does the visitor want?

Travel is expensive, event passes can be expensive and a day out of the office is certainly expensive. For the cause to justify the cost, the visitor has to be able to achieve at least one or more of their event aims. Here are what some of those might be:

A talking point 

Something to go back to their boss or colleagues with. An insight into a new industry movement or idea, something that will spark innovation within their own department and allow them to be the visionary that suggested it.



 A reason for attending the event over say, researching something online or reading it in a book or paper.

Alignment with a community

According to Adam Bain, chief operating officer of Twitter, “a fundamental human need for community may be the next big opportunity for marketers”. Many events are created solely to harness community (think Comicon and even Mobile World Congress to an extent), so this is worth considering as an event goal.

A solution

In marketing we often think about how our product or service can make the buyer’s life easier. Whether through saving time, reducing cost or improving process. In an event setting, visitors are often searching for the same effect; one that the brand on show could be able to fulfill.

Support for their personal brand

Deloitte’s 2015 millennial survey found that 50% of millennials would take a pay cut to find work that matches their personal values and that 75% feel like businesses are only focused on their own agendas. In order to stand out against hundreds of other brands within an exhibition, brands that support the attendee’s personal brand could cut through.

New experiences

There’s a reason why VR has become so high in demand within events. It provides something new, an exciting world for visitors to explore. Technology is often a great vehicle to help support the visitor need to find something new and gain new intelligence, surprising and delighting them along the way.


Of course, a brand will also want to show off their own solution and to connect with the visitor in order to harness their buying power. But the secret is, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

It is entirely possible to create an exhibition stand that fulfills the brand’s aims and make the people involved in its execution successful. At the same time, creating a world where visitors come away feeling like they have benefited from spending their time.

Successful exhibition design delivers proof of the brand’s promise, but they also deliver success for the visitor. Attendee-centric solutions are needed and fast.

After all, without attendees there are no events at all.