If you host a trade show, you’d probably be horrified to learn that attendees find your check-in process so cumbersome that they created their own. And that their check-in process is simply saving their badges from previous years to bypass your registration table.

This nightmare was a reality for the Western Retail Lumber Association (WRLA), a forum of 1,200 members in Canada’s building supply industry. The organization’s annual trade show, the Buying Show, developed a reputation for outdated technology, long lines, and disorganization.

Disgruntled by their existing ticketing management partner, WRLA turned to Eventbrite to solve their biggest pain points.

Improving the experience while staying within budget

WRLA Trade Show and Events Manager Jessica Cranmer explored improvements with the organization’s existing vendor.  When she asked the vendor for an upgrade from their basic registration service, the vendor’s quote for equipment and software far exceeded WRLA’s budget — and didn’t even include much-needed onsite support or an event app.

Knowing she wasn’t going to get the support she needed at the price she could afford, Cranmer researched other partners. After talking to Eventbrite, WRLA learned she could list her event, track attendees, and use a lead-retrieval app for attendees — at a third of the previous platform’s quote.

“What really was key was that Eventbrite was offering me an à la carte service,” says Jessica Cranmer, WRLA Trade Show and Events Manager.

Cranmer was also able to use insights from Eventbrite’s platform to reduce costs elsewhere. “We offer all of our exhibitors and attendees a free lunch,” says Cranmer. “The staff had been guessing how many people go to lunch. They had been over-ordering lunches in the hundreds — and wasting money.” Now, staff can use their event app to more accurately predict catering needs.

Freeing up time for WRLA’s staff

In years past, WRLA’s small staff spent the two weeks before the Buying Show printing and organizing attendee badges. Then, at the show, WRLA’s four-person staff would be trapped behind the check-in desk for hours, manually checking in thousands of attendees and exhibitors.

After identifying WRLA’s need to free up staff at the event, Eventbrite was able to connect WRLA with a preferred event staffing partner in Toronto. The partner sent a team to help WRLA with the opening and closing day of the event.

This additional staff handled whatever WRLA needed: processing payments, greeting attendees, and helping direct foot traffic. Most importantly, the additional staff liberated the WRLA staff from the check-in kiosk, letting them move freely around the show and provide the best experience possible for attendees.

“They came in and worked the entire system, and they figured it out in 10 minutes,” says Cranmer. “It was quite incredible.”

Delighting vendors and exhibitors with advanced tech

Some of WRLA’s larger exhibitors came to the check-in desk expecting a long wait. But this year, WRLA just looked up each company and printed the badges right there. The entire process took three minutes.

The WRLA went a step further in its mission to delight exhibitors. As a bonus, WRLA offered Eventbrite’s lead-capture mobile application, allowing exhibitors to scan interested attendees’ badges on the trade show floor and gather a list of potential customers on their phone, rather than collecting business cards.

Cranmer wasn’t sure all her attendees would take to the technology, but it paid off. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that half of the exhibitors downloaded the application, opening up valuable communication between attendees and exhibitors.

Take your event out of the past

Looking for more inspiration to upgrade your event technology? Check out the full case study for more on how the WRLA exceeded attendees’ expectations.

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