Korbi Carrison knows a thing or two about what makes a trade show worthwhile for an exhibitor. For the past two years, Carrison has served as event director of Global Gaming Expo. Presented by the American Gaming Association and organized by Reed Exhibitions, G2E is the largest annual gathering of global, commercial and tribal gaming professionals in North America, which took place Oct. 14-17 at Las Vegas Sands Expo & Convention Center.
Carrison has been involved with the event for its entire 19-year history, participating as an exhibitor for years before joining the G2E team. “I come from the mindset of thinking how the exhibitor thinks and trying to make things efficient and create value for the exhibitor,” she says, noting the event brings together more than 27,000 casino gaming professionals and about 400 exhibitors annually.
To ensure success and ROI for so many suppliers, Carrison advises planners to, first and foremost, have an understanding of what people’s business goals are. “It really takes a personal relationship to understand what a business objective might be for one company as opposed to another and to find a way to recruit attendees that help them fulfill those objectives,” she says.
The best way to do that is to create experiences for attendees and exhibitors to truly connect with one another. “If you create an experience, you're creating value beyond just an introduction or a drive-by of a booth. It's getting people to shake hands and delivering on their needs and objectives.”
Here are three steal-worthy ways G2E aims to elevate the exhibitor experience.
1. Allow attendees to rank exhibitors in real-time.
New in 2019 was G2E Hot Hits, a contest where attendees used the trade show’s mobile app to rank exhibitors launching new products or services. Every exhibitor received a QR code and attendees participated by scanning the code with their phones to indicate their interest in the products. Leaderboards were placed around the expo hall and in the lobbies, allowing attendees to get live updates of the exhibitors making the biggest impact on the show floor. At the end, G2E presented the top exhibitors with an award.
Carrison says this year the contest was more generalized at the exhibitor level, but the contest could be specialized in the future. “I could see, in the future, giving exhibitors multiple QR codes so they could assign them to a particular product and have the popularity voting be on the product level,” she says.
2. Do an exclusive tour of the show hall.
After a successful launch last year, G2E repeated its topic-specific tour of its exhibition hall, where tour guides led attendees around the show floor for an in-depth, intimate look at several of the leading exhibitors.
Providing suppliers the chance to get face-to-face with attendees in their booth space adds incredible value, says Carrison. “[Exhibitors] value getting in front of an attendee in a conference session, but it's a completely different ballgame when you are in your booth, with your experts and with your product,” she shares.
3. Pair education and networking.
With so many people in attendance, Carrison and her team take every chance they can to incorporate networking opportunities into the day. One way they build in one-on-one moments is by structuring some of their educational opportunities as roundtable discussions, where like-minded people can have a collaborative deep-dive into a specific topic. Conferees and exhibitors alike can bounce ideas off of one another, gain insights and build connections that they wouldn’t have been able to get in a typical speaker-led education format.
To encourage discussion, a leader is assigned to each table with a few bullet points of potential topics that could be discussed, but they don’t have to stick to the script, which is what Carrison says is the beauty of this format. “It really allows us to create an experience that will have a lot of value for the attendee, with the flexibility to pivot and really make it very thoughtful and in the moment,” she shares.