Meeting and event planners are always trying to find new ways to add value to their events and better compete in the industry. More often than not they’ll opt for bigger speakers, more technology, or some other gimmick that “wows” their audience but might not do much to increase the genuine value of the event for attendees. One solution which provides a clear value for attendees and vendors alike, is the inclusion of a hosted buyer program (sometimes known as a “supplier showcase”).

If you’re considering adding the element of pre-scheduled meetings to your hosted buyer program, make sure you start with strong technology to support the process.  See the additional tips below to build an ROI-driven appointment program.

Here are 5 best practices to make your next hosted buyer or supplier showcase event a success:

  • #1 – Carefully consider the qualification criteria you set for participants.  Try not to limit yourself to the typical criteria used by most planners: purchasing authority, annual budget (or purchase volume), and target industry or market (geographical representation). In order to increase the quality of matches, emphasize selection. Consider also purchasing intent (how soon are buyers expected to make their next purchase?) and participation at previous events. You could also use a decision board, ask suppliers who their ideal leads are, or leverage intermediaries (a la IMEX).
  • #2 – Be sure to manage contact between participants in order to prevent spam. In the past, some buyers have avoided hosted buyer programs and supplier showcases because they didn’t want to wind up getting spammed by exhibitors. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to carefully manage participant’s contact information in order to prevent spam.
  • #3 – Save time by using powerful technology to plan your program and appointments. You want to ensure that the event is valuable to all participants. One of the benefits of these programs is that it not only gives businesses the opportunity to make profitable connections, but attendees also have the chance to attend seminars and workshops and do some additional networking. However, because there is so much happening at an event that conflicts are inevitable – scheduling manually is just not an option. By using automated hosted buyer scheduling software with a powerful algorithm, you can sit back and let the system create all your attendee and host schedules, AND to distribute them — both in print and digitally — efficiently.
  • #4 – Speed things up for participants (create a separate registration/credential pickup line so participants don’t miss their appointments). Since most hosted buyer programs require that participants arrive at all scheduled appointments on time, it’s a good idea to setup a separate registration and credential pickup line for your hosted buyers and sellers, especially if your meetings start at the same time that you open your conference. This way, there is less likelihood of anyone missing their meeting, making a poor impression, and potentially blaming your event for a loss.
  • #5 – Be sure to follow-up. Make sure that you take the time after the event to follow up with participants. Was the meeting successful? Were both participants pleased with the exchange? What ROI did each party see as a result of their participation in your program? It’s a little difficult to claim a successful event or promise an ROI to potential future or returning attendees if you don’t have any measurable results to back them up.

Hosted buyer programs, supplier showcases, and 1-to-1 meetings can bring incredible value to all participants, but it’s important to make sure that you are focusing on their needs so that the time they spend on the showroom floor ultimately translates to an ROI on their balance sheets. By doing so, the positive feedback from attendees and happy businesses will help establish your show as the premier event for your industry.