We don’t know about you, but our annual event calendar at Constellation1 always includes the top real estate trade shows that other brokerage tech and proptech companies don’t want to miss, as well as the events that agents, brokers, franchises, MLSs, and associations come out for every year.
Trade shows are an excellent opportunity for companies to learn, network, and find new leads, all while having a little fun! There are multiple paths to trade show success: you could decide to exhibit, present a session or workshop, be on a panel, or simply attend as a participant, chatting up fellow attendees at the coffee stations and in the exhibit hall.
Whatever your goals or however you want to participate, there’s a way to make every trade show you attend worth it to you. In this post, we’re sharing 14 tips from the Constellation1 events team on how to make the most of real estate trade shows and conferences and ensure you get the return on your trade show investment you expect.
Apart from having a good time (and potentially exploring a fun city you might not otherwise get to visit), trade shows present a valuable opportunity to boost your business, grow your network, learn something new, size up your competition, and get excited about your work.
Why real estate companies should attend trade shows:
Perhaps the most obvious answer for why real estate companies need to attend trade shows is to find new potential customers. At Constellation1, we have products and services to sell, and trade shows are a great place to do that. It is extremely gratifying to introduce people who have no idea who we are to what we do and to share the latest innovations we’ve been working on with our loyal and enthusiastic customers, and everyone in between. Plus, it’s good for our bottom line!
The benefits of a strong network can’t be underestimated. Your network can help send more sales opportunities your way, share your brand, provide career advice and support, exchange best practices, refer your next superstar employee, and so much more. At trade shows, you’re surrounded by hundreds (if not thousands) of people who work in the same or an adjacent industry—and you never know which amazing people or potential new partners you might meet and add to your network while you’re there.
Most trade shows and conferences have an important learning component featuring educational sessions where you get to hear from industry leaders about overcoming their challenges, learning to succeed, and planning for the future. Everyone at your business, from an entry-level salesperson to the CEO, can learn something from the expertly curated sessions at industry trade shows.
During the year, how often does your company have the chance to be in the same room as all your competitors? And to even ask them questions (and answer their questions about you!). Nowhere else can you gather as much competitive intelligence as at a trade show. What is the market leader doing, and how can you catch up? If you’re the market leader, what are your competitors doing to try to catch you, and how can you stay ahead? When you size everyone up, what makes you stand out, and how can you highlight that quality even more? The answers to all these questions can be found at a trade show!
At a well-organized trade show, it’s impossible not to feel the excitement in the air, the joy of being together, and the sense that when we work together, we can accomplish anything. So, soak up the success stories you hear, marvel at the cutting-edge innovations coming out, and listen to the new ideas your colleagues are sharing… and apply them to your business.
You wouldn’t show up at an important sales meeting without researching your prospect, perfecting your pitch, and preparing arguments to counter every possible objection. The same care and attention to detail should apply to real estate trade shows, where the prep work you put in will directly affect your ROI.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare for a real estate event:
Sponsorships are a great way to get some brand play and generate leads from industry events. No matter what your goals or budget, chances are there is a sponsorship package that can meet your needs. Large industry events have opportunities to sponsor almost anything, from the mints at the welcome booth to the entire closing reception, with tiers that are often more affordable than you might expect.
If sponsorship isn’t the route for you, maybe exhibiting is. A prominent booth at a trade show is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate your credibility and boost your company’s visibility. Every attendee will see your name and logo and many of them will come over to talk to you. Be sure to consider the extra points below to make sure the event you’re interested in would be a good investment for you. If it is, start planning at least 6 months beforehand to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Keep in mind that not every event is perfect for every kind of company. It can be tricky to figure out whether you sponsor an event or buy a booth. Here are some things to consider:
Who is attending the conference and are they your target audience? If you sell uniquely to one segment of the real estate market, it might not be beneficial to go to an event that caters to a different or unrelated one. You want to go to events where you can get enough eyes on your company for the commitment to be worth your while.
How much are you prepared to spend, and what would it take to see an ROI? If the math isn’t adding up, skip the event and plan to attend when the numbers are clearer. You would not want to sink money in an event that won’t help you reach your mid- and long-term goals.
If you do have an event budget and want to sponsor it, which tier can you afford and what does it get you? Keep in mind you can sometimes negotiate for more.
The timeless real estate expression “location, location, location” applies to exhibiting, too. You can expect to pay a little more for a more prominent location, as measured by the quality of the foot traffic. If no good booths are left, you might consider other options, or negotiate.
Booths take time to set up and take down, and everything needs to be brought or shipped to and from the event location. Who will do that, or what service will you pay to do it for you?
It never hurts to have branded swag available for folks who stop by your booth. It helps you stand out and gives everyone something to remember you by.
Attendees might visit 100 or more booths at a trade show. Making sure yours stands out will increase the likelihood you will get quality leads. By standing out, we don’t mean gimmicks: by crafting a creative booth experience and a nice atmosphere and providing thoughtful takeaways, you can ensure attendees not just remember you, but remember you fondly.
A big part of preparing for a trade show is knowing who will be there, from potential new clients to your biggest competitors. If you have access, check the attendee list to identify possible contacts at companies who could use your services, old contacts you’ve lost touch with, current customers, and any rivals. Reach out, set up meetings, and if you’re exhibiting, invite them to stop by your booth. You can also search the tradeshow’s hashtag online to see who has posted about attending. Remember, everyone’s dance card fills up quickly at these events: if there’s another attendee you want to meet, don’t be shy about contacting them well in advance.
Everyone at a trade show is there to work, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to have some fun, too. Throwing your own event, like a lunch or cocktail reception nearby, creates extra opportunities to network, get to know new leads, thank partners and vendors, and let off a little steam! Reserve a venue well before you go and make sure to send out invites early, before everyone’s schedules fill up (and they will!). And just in case, save a few spots for any last-minute invites.
What do you want out of this trade show? What do you need to bring back to break even? What does the best, most ideal outcome look like for you and your team? Figure out what your must-haves and nice-to-haves are, then make a plan to reach them. Write down your goals and share them with your team. Define what success looks like, and you’ll be likelier to achieve it!
All your planning and preparation is done and suddenly, you’ve arrived! Depending on your aforementioned game plan, how you structure your days and interact with other attendees will vary, but here is a list of tips all trade show attendees can use to maximize their attendance:
The event will be over before you know it, and you’ll be back to business as usual. So, take advantage of every minute! Talk to as many people as you can, listen to your leads’ pain points, ask presenters and other attendees your burning questions, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for insights that could help you improve your business. You won’t want to return home wishing you had done more. But be careful to…
You’re only human, after all! It’s impossible to do everything, so try not to spread yourself too thin. Be sure to take time for yourself to recharge. Take a break, step away, go for a walk outside, or meditate in your room. Before the excitement starts in the morning, go for a jog, do some yoga, or lift weights in the hotel gym. If you’re rested and relaxed, you’ll be that much more effective when meeting new people and talking about what you do.
The best way to sell your product or service is to know how it fits into the professional lives of real customers. What better way to learn about the challenges real estate brokers, agents, franchise owners, MLSs, associations, and even home buyers and sellers are facing than in the educational sessions at trade shows and conferences. Presenters are there to share what they’re seeing, trends they’re predicting, or problems they’re solving, and the information you gather will be helpful to tailor your offering and speak to your prospects more convincingly.
You’re going to meet a lot of people and learn a lot of things. Find a way to capture as much information as you can about whom you met, what they do, whether there’s an opportunity there, and how best to follow up. It would be a shame to lose a valuable contact because you lost their business card or forgot to write down their name.
When you’re at a trade show, every opportunity is a networking opportunity. What we mean by “extra” is a cocktail reception, an offsite dinner, or luncheon (even one you organize) that gives you time to make connections with people away from the crowd or the pressure of the exhibit hall. You’ll be surprised how different your conversations can be in a different, more social context, but always remember that you’re there to represent your company and your brand and act accordingly.
Announcing your presence at a trade show on social media is great for both your personal brand and your company’s brand. Your marketing team will love it, and it amplifies your reach even beyond the event itself, both during and after. You can share what you’re learning and conversations you’re having for the benefit of your fellow attendees and folks who couldn’t make it. It can also prompt interesting conversations around what you do and how your product or service helps those in the real estate industry.
Even after your real estate trade show is over, much of the work you can do to get an even better return on your event investment has only just begun. Here are three tips for keeping the momentum going:
Depending on how many people you met, it could take days to follow up with them all. Don’t get discouraged (and don’t give up!). Find them on LinkedIn, add them to your CRM, and send them a warm message about how great it was to meet them. Offer to help them if they need anything, and hopefully they’ll get back to you. If you felt there was a strong connection or sales potential, follow up again in a couple of weeks if they don’t get back to you right away.
Marketers are always looking for content for blogs, social media, and new sales materials. Hearing what you thought about a particular event, how great it was, what you learned, and whom you met will be especially useful, as will any customer insights you gleaned about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (a veritable SWOT analysis).
Whether you’re a salesperson, marketing professional, COO, or even the president and founder of your company, you will have learned a lot about your industry, your customers, and even yourself. Take what you’ve learned and apply it to your work and get better at making sales, marketing your products, managing your company, leading your team, or whatever it is you do. In the long run, this might be the most valuable thing you get from attending industry events. Don’t waste it!
Not sure about what events or trade shows you might want to attend? Here are some events where you’ll find a member of the Constellation1 team in the coming weeks and months! We’ll update this list as regularly as possible.
If you’re interested in talking with a Constellation1 expert, you don’t need to wait to cross paths with us at an event! Simply request a callback anytime and one of our team members will get back to you.
October 3–5, 2023, New Orleans, LA (link)
October 15–18, 2023, Philadelphia, PA (link)
October 23–26, 2023, San Diego, CA (link)
October 23–25, 2023, Fort Worth, TX (link)
November 14–16, 2023, Anaheim, CA (link)