They are some of the hottest phrases in the trade show world – “Hosted Buyer” and “Reverse Trade Show.” These new ways of engaging buyers and suppliers promise to give new vigor to the world of trade shows. These types of events are relatively new in North America, but have been around for years in Europe.
So, what are these events and what is the difference between the two? Here are some basic working definitions.
- The main difference between these and the traditional trade show is how the attendee (the “buyer”) engages with the exhibitor (the “supplier”). Rather than the show floor being the primary way of these two parties meeting, the focus is on pre-set meeting appointments. Namely, meeting appointments between buyers and suppliers are set before the show. A time and location is set, and both parties are expected to honor their commitment to meet.
- The big difference between the Hosted Buyer show and Reverse Trade Show is how the buyer is brought to the show. For the latter, the buyer is usually an attendee arriving through the classic open registration process. The Hosted Buyer, on the other hand, is actually a pre-selected attendee who is chosen because of his or her purchasing power and history.
- The Hosted Buyer attendee is not only pre-selected, but most or all of their expenses are paid for by the show planner. Because of this cost, the Hosted Buyer shows are often much smaller – typically less than 200 buyers. This means, however, that the supplier gets to meet with a higher quality buyer and so is likely to leave the show with better deals.
- One of the great things about both types of shows is that by giving focused time with a supplier, the buyer is made more aware of the company’s offerings. As many studies have revealed, consumers often have a totally different perception of what a company’s products are than do their salespeople.
- Many shows require the buyer to set a minimum number of appointments.
- Hosted Buyer has an advantage of having more measurable ROI since all sales can be traced back to the actual appointment.
- Online registration processing for these shows typically require more information about the buyer’s purchasing profile than would usually be the case. This is very helpful to the supplier.
- If the trade show component is dropped entirely and replaced by the appointment agenda, than the suppliers save a huge amount of money through eliminated shipping and material costs. That said, many shows prefer the flexibility of the traditional trade show.
- Both the Hosted Buyer and Reverse Trade Show need great technology to make the process work well. Robust online registration software is needed to compile the buyer profiles. Just as important, customized appointment scheduling software is critical for arranging the buyer-supplier meetings before the show.
You should consider how components of these shows can invigorate your existing trade show and conference.