So last week we talked about Specialty Furniture and how it can enhance your exhibit and provide a hospitality aspect to your marketing and sales strategy. Hand in hand with that would be the food and beverage side of the services provided usually by the facility. It is very important o read the rules and restrictions of what you can and can’t do when wanting to offer food and beverage.
As a general rule you can bring in small servings of individually pre-wrapped items and water bottles to give out within your booth space. Depending upon the show that is about all you can do without the support of the facility catering unit or staff getting involved.
A great service that I see often is for the exhibitor to provide a coffee station within their booth space. Coffee is offered by the facility and is usually ordered by the gallon. The price per gallon will include the cups and cart and serving container with all accompaniments. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 per gallon. The catering staff will help you determine the quantity needed for an event. It is important to find out whether the show is providing that service or not to avoid any conflicts of service as you will pay for it whether it gets used or not. Sodas and water provided by the facility, as opposed to coffee, are usually charged on an al a carte, or consumption basis with a minimum requirment. You can also get ice cream and fruit bars, pretzels, popcorn machines, smoothies and alcohol beverage services. You may need to hire a bartender or a catering staff person to man certain service stations.
Each facility is different as to what they can offer and what is required. You will always want to check with them directly though a phone call to get all details, rules and pricing. Just expect that the facility will need to provide all catering needs for food and drink options.
Another good idea is to provide something that people can smell from aisles away. It will attract people to your exhibit. Popcorn machines or hot cookies fresh out the toaster oven at your exhibit can attract attendees in droves. Don’t bring your own toaster oven or microwave as these are open food service items that are required to be served by the facility do to health department regulations.
I always tell exhibitors to remember to add your logo on the coffee cups or popcorn bags by thinking ahead and purchasing these items as give-a-ways. Think about it. If you let exhibitors to get coffee at your booth then your coffee cup is displayed in many exhibits on the show floor. You can also sponsor the coffee service for the show and use your logo cups to get even bigger exposure. The facility will usually accept your cups or bags as this is a savings to them but don’t expect the price from the facility to come down.
Catering is a good lead generation idea for collecting leads as people approach your exhibit. It is not a way to qualify attendees. If you are looking for a great way to attract attendees to your exhibit then this is a great idea. Food and beverage is a great attraction at a show.
As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.