Welcome to “The Whisperers Weigh In”, a new series where we answer your questions about large-scale event production, navigating the world of event strategy, or just what a day in the life of an Event Whisperer is like. Do you have a question for the Event Whisperers? Contact us via our website and let The Whisperers Weigh In.

This week, our featured experts, Lisa Holland, Bearer of Event Secrets and Jim Riela, Zen Master of Events, offer their insight into seemingly simple event choices that event planners frequently second guess themselves over. Today’s question:

Erin F., EventLite Productions: Can you serve lunch in the trade show exhibit hall? And do you think that will help or hurt the exhibitors?

Lisa: I think serving lunch in the trade show hall helps exhibitors if the layout is carefully thought out so that you drive the attendees past the booths on their way in and out of lunch.

Our most successful trade shows were those where we organized the exhibitors by category into neighborhoods, and each neighborhood included a food and beverage service area that was complete in its offerings. This helped create a sense of community, kept activity close to the vendors, and alleviated that dreaded sea of tables where food and beverages are completely isolated. If you choose to organize an exhibit hall lunch in this method, be sure you carefully coordinate with the in-house food service company. You need to make sure the buffets are situated in a way that the kitchen can easily replenish and wait staff can efficiently clear.

Jim: While serving lunch in the conference exhibit hall can have many benefits, we have recently been partnering with clients who wish to evolve the experience within their exhibit/sponsor space by only serving light hors d’oeuvres and beverages (not full meals), and accenting the room with comfortable seating areas.

Your sponsors and exhibitors are seeking a meaningful connection in a space that truly offers engagement and ROI (return on investment).  By reutilizing space traditionally taken by buffet tables and rounds, think about offering small pods of tempting appetizers, juices, and flavored waters. Allow plenty of room for comfortable couches and unique chair/table sets that inspire relaxing and inviting conversation in this space. My advice – lose the full meals and keep your attendees engaged and in motion with a more fluid, inviting space.

What do you think? Vote in our poll on Twitter (@EventWhisperers) for the answer you like best. Or tell us- what would you do?

Our resident experts Lisa Holland, Bearer of Event Secrets, and Jim Riela, Zen Master of Events

Our resident experts Lisa Holland, Bearer of Event Secrets, and Jim Riela, Zen Master of Events

Later this week– Do the Event Whisperers usually prefer using a speaker agency, or finding a featured speaker on their own? And is the standard complimentary cocktail hour an absolute necessity? Contact us via our website with your input, or if you have a question for the Event Whisperers to answer.

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