How to get the most out of exhibiting at a wedding fair

16 Jul 2018

The experts at PMN Wedding Fayres Ltd who organise events in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and along the South Coast, share their top tips for businesses exhibiting at wedding fairs

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2018 has been quite a year for PMN Wedding Fayres Ltd thus far. PMN Wedding Fayres Ltd has received both regional and national awards for ‘Best Wedding Fayre Organisers UK 2018’ and has also celebrated the business's 10th anniversary in July. However, there are peaks and troughs in all businesses and the team have seen many come and go over the past 10 years.

For the majoirty of exhibitors who showcase at PMN Wedding Fayres' events, the team have watched their businesses flourish and are fortunate to have played a part in that.

Karen Nother, who runs PMN Wedding Fayres alongside her husband Paul, says: "We tend to see a difference in how businesses display their products and services; from the very first time exhibiting with us, they supplier will then gradually try new styles and ways of displaying what they do which is very refreshing. Updating and making either small or significant changes over time is essential and it’s good to get a fresh pair of eyes to look at your display, somebody not necessarily related to what you do can often make some great suggestions."

Here, the experts at PMN Wedding Fayres Ltd share some pointers for exhibitors new and old in how to get prepared, what to do, what not to do, but mostly how you can attract couples to your stand/display when exhibiting at a wedding fair. 

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Get ready prior

Draw up a checklist of what you’re taking for your display and use suitable trollies or even suitcases to manoeuvre your equipment, as you don’t want any breakages. You can have the best products to display but if you’ve forgotten your tablecloth or it’s creased up at the bottom of a bag un-ironed, it’s not the best look. Pack your transport the day or night prior if possible; you’ll get a better night’s sleep if it’s all done and off your mind. Go easy on the garlic and alcohol as you’ll be chatting to lots of couples the next day and don’t want to scare them off with ‘the night before’ fragrances.

Look the part

Your appearance is as important as that of your display and work, so think about being comfortable yet smart. Branded garments always look very professional but if you’ve yet to get your logo or business details embroidered or printed onto garments, just keep it simple with smart shirt, dress or trousers, and definitely comfy shoes – you’ll be standing up for several hours.

Start the day on a calm note

You should have received ample details from your organiser about all aspects of the event, so make sure you carry your checklist and double check it. Any electrical appliance used should be PAT-tested with the conformity date sticker attached and remember to carry copies of any insurance certificates relevant to your business.

It’s worth checking Google Maps where you need to arrive in advance, including specific unloading and parking areas and always check the sat nav and postcodes are accurate, so you arrive in good time. Pack a light lunch or snacks and a drink – you’ll get thirsty chatting (but never eat at your stand or display area) and allow yourself time to organise and set up your display. A willing helper is advantageous too.

Don’t encroach on your fellow exhibitors; stay within the stand size display area that you booked and paid for as not all organisers line-out the areas.

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Role reversal

What would you like to see if you were the couple approaching a business? Initially it’s YOU, the supplier, that will attract them, possibly before your display even catches their eye. Be smiley, but not pushy, let them look, don’t pounce, don’t fold/cross your arms and pace about in front of your display, just relax and let them come to you. Plus watch other exhibitors and what they do or say for tips and pointers.

Promote you and your business

Wedding fairs are your shop window for the day. There’s nothing worse for us as the fair organisers than discovering on the day, that a business exhibiting with us has numerous other related services that they offer but don’t show. You don’t have to bring your entire workshop or premises to show couples that you offer several different elements, but you should at least detail it on your stand/in your display and most definitely on business cards or marketing materials. You may only get one shot to chat to them so your materials are essential.

Business cards/flyers

We know that some can be expensive, but first impressions count and our biggest bug-bear has to be single-sided flyers. Why waste the opportunity to use the reverse side, just for a little extra print cost? Business materials can get busy and messy on one side; less is more, clean and simple, images one side, text on the other. Their purpose is to draw attention and entice the recipients to go online and find out more about you/what you do.

Opt for flyers that aren’t flimsy but a slightly thicker card or paper and a matte finish always looks more expensive. Never hand-write or change contact details; it might be tempting rather than waste a box of materials, but if something is written or spelt wrong (albeit just a digit in a contact number), it certainly won’t look right changed by hand.

Also consider ‘coding’ materials so that when couples contact you, they present or mention a code or quote, which will then indicate to you where they may have found you/your details. It can be something really simple, but it will help you see where your marketing is received. Make your business materials stand out from the others they’ll be collecting – sometimes just a simple piece of ribbon tied to a flyer works, but avoid stapling offers to the front of existing materials as it just looks like an afterthought. Get some offer flyers made that you present with your current flyers.

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Mingle and network

Once you’re set up and have organised everything just so, find the coffee station and get mingling with other suppliers. There are such great networking opportunities at fairs and we see many suppliers becoming firm friends over time, recommending one another to couples and venues. Don’t be afraid to approach those of the same category either, you’re all different and offer various prices and options and this will allow you to recommend suppliers to couples which don't find what they're looking for with you. You’re likely to see these suppliers quite regularly so don’t be shy and give out some business cards so they can at least have a chance to remember who you were.

Interact

As couples arrive, don’t go in for the kill with a full sales pitch; be gentle and appreciate that they may not have a date, a venue, or any idea of what they want, so let them look (and touch, if applicable). Tentatively ask them questions about their plans without making them feel they’re behind or not keeping up with trends. You may end up playing a very important role in their day eventually and your manner from the beginning will count and be remembered. By the time they’ve seen other suppliers they may well come back to you because of how you treated them, not just what you could do for them. 

Data capture

Leave a clipboard or secured tablet for couples to provide their details, if they would like more information from you or a quote in the future. Don’t force it upon them and ensure that your Privacy Policy is in line with current GDPR requirements.

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Freebies and giveaways

Who doesn’t like a giveaway, sample or freebie? Couples will often return to someone who’s provided a sample of sorts. It’s not always possible or relevant with all categories of suppliers, but even if you don’t provide something edible or demonstrate your magic skills on the day, let them leave with something in their goody bag that will stand out and remind them to revisit what you offer. Special offers are often a great incentive too and help you stand apart from another supplier who provides the same/similar services, so make this clearly visible using a nice display sign at your stand.

Take a break

If you’re exhibiting alone, you’ll need some kind of ‘comfort break’ at some point(s) of the day but leaving your stand can be a worry, not just because of missing potential customers but also if you have anything valuable or ornate on your display. This is where your networking comes into play as your fellow exhibitors either side of you are also likely to need the same too, so look after one another’s stand for five minutes. Ideally, it's great if you can have someone with you on the day who also knows your business that can cover for these times, but also if you get busy chatting to couples and others are waiting, they can at least take details or keep them chatting until you’re available.

Social media

Remember to tell your own audience of followers where you’ll be exhibiting and when, plus take pictures of your display (or teasers if you’re trying to entice some along) and share them on social media – it’s free after all. Re-post details of the event from the organisers regularly, as if you’re counting down until the event; it shows you’re keen and excited to be there plus will no doubt help footfall. Even if you don’t think you’re any good at social media, get someone who is or who can help you – most couples look for a business on social media before they look for their website, so a presence is essential. Find your fellow suppliers and tag them at the event or comment at the end that it was lovely to meet them. This also helps with recommending one another and networking opportunities.

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Check out the venue

If the event is being held at a wedding venue you may well end up working for a couple there, albeit just dropping off equipment or supplies for their wedding. Have a look around so that you can get to know the venue's layout and staff. It could be that you become a recommended supplier by the venue and are included either within the venue's wedding packages or they take a supply of your marketing materials to give to couples within their wedding literature. This is a privilege in many ways as they could be passing on work and you are likely to be invited to events to support them, so get to know the venues and teams.

Home time

You’ve been on your feet all day and are thirsty from all the chatting, but don’t be tempted to pack down early. This is a definite ‘sin’ at an event and seen as unprofessional to customers and neighbouring exhibitors. The organisers will definitely not be pleased as you should find it’s in their terms and conditions when you booked the event that you can only leave from a certain time.

If you know in advance that you have to leave a little earlier than planned, it's best to discuss this with the organisers in advance so they can position you somewhere that won’t cause a problem or disturbance to others. Understandably if it’s an emergency, you may be able to leave your display for the organisers to pack down for you, or at least help make alternative arrangements. Just remember the event has been published and advertised with specific opening/finishing times, so unless the organisers say differently for any reason, you should expect to stay until the end.

Return on investment

It can be a long tiring day from beginning to end but hopefully it’s a busy and productive day for you and you come away with lots of enquires, leads, appointments or even confirmed bookings. However, don’t be disappointed if not as most business takes place following the fair, as enquiries and calls come through in the subsequent days and weeks so remember to act on these as soon as possible afterwards.

Keep refreshing your display and don’t be afraid to try new ideas – you don’t have to use the table provided by the organisers, use the space as you wish (within reason – check for any height restrictions) and sometimes less is more. If you had a great day and are hoping to return for another fair, make sure you book in with the organisers soon afterwards as many suppliers act quickly to secure their space at events and once spaces are gone, they’re gone – so don’t miss out. And if you do end up networking with many suppliers many often opt to go for a quick bite to eat straight after the event, ensuring the whole experience and day finishes on a lovely note.

To find out more about PMN Wedding Fayres Ltd's upcoming events, visit https://pmnweddingfayres.co.uk/.

If you are interested in exhibiting at Bride: The Wedding Show which offers one-day and two-day shows across the country, visit www.bridetheweddingshow.co.uk or email bridemag@archant.co.uk for further information. 

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