Despite how 80% of people say they’re “extremely likely” to attend in-person events in the second half of 2023, event marketers still struggle to drive traffic to their booths. According to “The Mid-Year Industry Pulse Check,” boosting attendance is among the top three challenges facing event marketers today. Despite this challenge, 63% of brands reported executing more or the same number of in-person events in 2022 than in 2019. In 2023, the number of events will only increase.
Creating dynamic events that offer attendees unique experiences and interactive opportunities is the best way to bring in crowds. Food and beverage events are an excellent opportunity for brands to showcase their offerings to potential customers. And attendance is a pretty good indicator of an event’s success — particularly since higher attendance offers better networking opportunities and revenue generation for brands, event organizers, and sponsors. Events that struggle to drive attendance can lose necessary revenue, making future events less attractive to sponsors and brands.
Strategies to Drive Event Attendance
Here are five strategies to increase event attendance within the food and beverage industry.
Sampling is proven technique for driving traffic to F&B events (as any Costco shopper can tell you). By offering free samples of their products, brands can encourage attendees to generate buzz and introduce their offerings to new consumers. Sampling can also help brands gather valuable feedback from attendees, allowing them to improve and tailor their products to drive food and beverage innovation.
- Brand Partnerships
Partnering with celebrities and influencers has become a hugely popular brand marketing tool. By leveraging the social media followings of influencers, brands can reach a wider audience, generate excitement for new product launches, and add an element of glamour to their events.
Though this can be a pricey option, the potential advertising reach of celebrities and influencers makes it worth the cost. In addition, a partnership with a celebrity in the F&B industry is a great way to bridge the gap in relevance between a brand and the F&B industry. For example, Lexus participates in various culinary events and leverages partnerships with almost a dozen celebrity chefs, sommeliers, and wineries to create and serve their guests innovative food and wine options. This answers the question, “Why is Lexus at this food and wine event?”
- Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassadors represent brands and interact with attendees. As the on-site face of a company, an ambassador provides information about products and services while encouraging attendees to engage with the brand. Their enthusiasm and passion for the brand can also help generate social media buzz and increase the event’s reach.
- Logistical Placement of Booth Orientation
The placement of a food and beverage booth can significantly impact attendance. When a brand reaches out to an event organizer plays a big part in determining whether they get a prime location. The sooner a brand reaches out, the more options are available. By strategically placing booths in areas with high foot traffic or across from entrances, brands can increase their visibility and attract more attendees.
Brands should also aim to create an inviting and visually engaging environment that encourages attendees to stop by and interact with the brand. Relevant activations, such as live autograph sessions with food celebrities, virtual reality experiences demonstrating local food sourcing, and fun augmented reality activities featuring F&B products, can drive interest in and traffic to a booth. Additionally, a booth’s open layout and design can help create a positive environment and memorable atmosphere.
- Branded Giveaway Bags
Branded giveaway bags are an excellent tool for incentivizing a booth visit. Everyone loves a free product, and by offering free branded samples, companies can increase attendance and build brand loyalty. Nothing spreads faster through an event or trade show than a well-placed rumor of free goodies at one of the booths. It’s also a great opportunity for free advertising as attendees walk around with branded tote bags slung over their shoulders.
Implementing these strategies at food and beverage events can help companies drive traffic to their booths and increase brand awareness. By utilizing a number of effective marketing strategies, brands can create a memorable trade show experience and promote greater attendance at future events.