Build and Leverage Word-of-Mouth Advocacy for Exhibitions

Earning a coveted position as an exhibition that is recommended to others—one to which attendees routinely assign a high Net Promoter Score (NPS)—is not an easy task to accomplish. In fact, while NPS is a widely used measurement for customer advocacy, it represents a number of factors that can be hard to identify and adjust. Joint research from UFI and Explori identifies some of the specific ways exhibition organizers can build word-of-mouth advocacy for exhibitions.

What is an NPS score?

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) represents the likelihood of a customer (an attendee, for example) to recommend a product or service (the event) to a friend or colleague. It is “a way of understanding many different drivers of perception, including satisfaction, ease of customer journey and return on investment in a single question.”[i] 

To calculate the Net Promoter Score, event organizers ask attendees on a scale of 1-10 (one being highly unlikely and 10 being very likely), how likely they are to recommend the event to a friend or colleague. The results are evaluated as follows:

The percentage of detractors is subtracted from the percentage of promoters. The resulting number is the Net Promoter Score. The higher the NPS, the better the reputation of the event. In fact, according to the UFI & Explori report on global visitor insights, the NPS for all shows surveyed in The Americas is +20—the highest score in the world.

Boost attendee NPS scores by addressing attendee objectives

One factor that supports a high overall NPS score among attendees, researchers say, is the extent to which an exhibition meets key visitor objectives around innovation and discovery, including “to see new products/services,” “to keep up to date with market trends,” and “to look for ideas/inspiration.” In a companion report from UFI and Explori, researchers noted, “Where event directors considered ‘newness’ as ‘very important’ there is a notable shift in visitor NPS score when compared to events that place less importance on ‘newness.’” [ii]

Identify the Apostles and the Disaffected attendees

Explori surveyed attendees from 920 shows around the world. They asked a number of questions, including, “How satisfied are you?” (measures satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being the least satisfied) and “How likely are you to return to the event in the future?” (measures loyalty on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being least likely).

Based on the responses to the above two questions, researchers identified the percentage of respondents that fell into four groups:

Of the four categories, Apostles and the Disaffected have the most impact on word-of-mouth advocacy. Apostles, says UFI & Explori’s report on global visitor insights, “are likely to return to the event with less persuasion and to encourage others to attend.” The Disaffected “are on their way to becoming non-attendees. They are also likely to actively recommend against your event to others.”

Thus, it makes sense to keep the Apostles satisfied, an objective that researchers say requires addressing so-called “hygiene factors,” such as cheaper parking, better layout, and easier navigation. Changing the attitudes of the Disaffected is important as well, however, it involves more fundamental changes, such as keeping the show relevant, providing a wider range of exhibitors, and continuously delivering more innovation every year.

How to leverage word-of-mouth advocacy for exhibitions

UFI & Explori conclude, “There is the potential for well-executed events to generate ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing in any [business or geographic] sector. In crowded sectors, creating satisfied visitors who will actively promote an event to their peers will be a key competitive edge.”

But building an exhibition with high visitor advocacy and failing to leverage it leaves revenue and growth on the table. A high NPS exhibition is an asset that can be leveraged through attendee testimonials, social media marketing, and social referral marketing platforms. Gleanin, for example, gives attendees who have a favorable attitude toward an event (and most high-scoring exhibitions place 70 percent or more attendees in this category) the opportunity to recommend the event to others at the moment of registration.

To find out how to leverage word-of-mouth advocacy for exhibitions and grow attendance, contact Tamar Beck at





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