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IAEE Webinar Provides Trade Show Organizers with Valuable Insights, Tips and Tricks for an Effective Exhibitor Surveys

image of a person taking a survey on their laptop

CHICAGO — Robyn Davis, CPTD, Trade Show Trainer/Consultant for Exhibitors WINH LLC, shared the challenges of exhibitor surveys and their solutions, tips for writing survey questions and how to gather actionable insights during a webinar hosted by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Exhibitor Surveys 201: How to Obtain Even More Actionable Insights. 

Some advice on question writing that Davis shared included thinking about asking for context, for exhibitors reasoning for coming, what detracted from their experience and the impact the show has on their business. To get the most accurate answers for questions about the impact, it is suggested the in-depth exhibitor surveys are sent two weeks after the end of the event and consider doing a shorter one on-site. 

Davis explains that in order to gather actionable insights, it’s important to be open to getting critiques and to think about them objectively and in a constructive way to make improvements to the trade show. Other tips include surveying exhibitors regularly, not just after the show, and asking the same questions the same way year over year to get comparable responses. 

Common Mistakes and Solutions for Exhibitor Surveys 

A mistake trade show organizers can make is they don’t get enough context for the answers they’re receiving. A survey should be segmented by the groups trade show organizers collect responses from, which can be as simple as differentiating the survey by exhibitor or attendee or asking for the company name or booth number, and then further segmenting within those groups by things like booth size. There is also a method called branching, in which the questions on the survey will depend on the respondents’ answers as they do it, both of which ensure that exhibitors are answering questions specific to them. 

When the trade show organizer is not clear in what they’re asking, exhibitors may end up providing answers they aren’t looking for. This issue can arise because of a difference in perceived meanings of words.  

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“You want to use the words that exhibitors are using the way they are using them,” Davis said. “For example, the word networking when used in surveying often means different things to different people. Networking could mean attending a reception or attending a session where they get to interact with the presenter or going through the exhibit hall to interact with potential partners. We want to be sure that you’re either really clear about what networking means to you or that you’re defining it for them.” 

Davis also addressed the issue of exhibitors feeling that the survey is a lot of work with little reward for them. Incentives for completing the survey and being transparent about how the survey responses will be used can help with this, but Davis says be cautious with incentives. “Improving the show can be reward enough. There are other things you may want to incorporate depending on your goals for the survey. But, we don’t want this to be all about something that anyone just wants rather than giving you honest answers.”  

Find more information about the webinar here: 

Reach Robyn Davis at (614) 657-7412 or 

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