There has been a tremendous increase in the number of trade fairs and exhibitions being organized all over the world. While this development definitely increase the range of choices available to an exporting firm, this also necessitates identification of a set of criteria or taking decision with regards to participation in a particular trade fair. Participation in these events costs money and that too in foreign exchange. Therefore, it is very important for a company to think twice before taking a decision for participation in such events. Participation in trade fairs and exhibitions must be thought of as an integral part of the strategic export marketing planning. This must have a definite role to play in the entire scheme of market-cum-product promotion. To make an appropriate decision as to whether to participate or not in a particular event, it would be desirable to have information about the firm on the following points:
1. Statistics on exhibitors and audience over a number of years. This will reveal whether the level of participation is increasing over the years. More importantly, are the major firms in the product line participating?
2. Quality of the audience/visitors. How many of them were business visitors? The factor is crucial because what is important is not the number of visitors but whether the right people, namely the potential buyers and decision makers are visiting the stalls.
3. Importance of the firms exhibiting in the past and the countries to which they belonged. Try to obtain a catalogue of exhibitors.
4. Charges and expenses involved and what are the services included in the charges.
5. Support, particularly publicity support given to the exhibitors
6. Ask Important buyers about their opinion on the fair
7. If you intent to participate in a particular fair, try to go to the fair earlier and talk to the exhibitors and buyers .Get the feel of it as an export promotion tool.
In addition, the following questions should be asked and an answer sought:
1. What are the company objectives in the market where the fair/exhibition is going to be held?
2. Could participation in this fair, either as a main activity or supplementary to other promotional activities assist in the achievements of these objectives?
3. Could the time effort and cost involved in such participation achieve more through other forms of activity? What are the other alternative forms of promotion available to the company?
4. Have the products to be displayed a potentially substantial market which presently is not fully exploited but could be done through participation in the event?
5. Does the local agent enthusiastically support the idea of participation?
6. Would the anticipated costs of participation be commensurate with the anticipated results?
If answers to these questions are in the affirmative, it follows that the company should decide to participate. But if answers are in the negative there is no case for incurring such expenditure which can be more profitably spent on other forms of promotion.
Once the decision is taken that the company participate in the fair or the exhibition, it must prepare an action plan to derive maximum benefit out of this participation. It must see that all the organizational problems associated with the participation are identified and solved. Secondly, it must prepare marketing and follow up plan to concretize the leads that may be obtained during the fair.
Basic Trade Fair Checklist:
A. Before the fair
1. Prepare market research report
2. Draw up making plan
3. Draft preliminary budget.
4. Make site booking
5. Reserve hotel accommodation
6. Appoint customs agents to clear exhibits and display materials
7. Finalize budget
8. Prepare publicity and advertising materials
9. Summit draft stand design to fair authorities of approval
10. Issue general invitation (direct mailing)