Trade Fair Controlling – How do I evaluate the performance of my trade fairs?

Events and trade fairs are a major cost factor, but they also always bring added value - right? In times of inflation, expenses in all areas are being questioned more than ever. However, whether attending an event was worth it can only be proven with appropriate reporting. In this blog post, we will give you tips on how to successfully implement trade fair controlling in your company.

What are the prerequisites for good trade fair controlling?

The evaluation options in your dashboard or CRM have an impact on the quality of your trade fair controlling and should therefore be comprehensive. However, data evaluation requires the cooperation of booth personnel. Therefore, it is important to convince your employees of the value of trade fair controlling. This is best achieved by illustrating the value of relevant metrics. When the added value of recording is known, user acceptance usually increases. In addition, it must be communicated that reporting is not about monitoring individual colleagues, but about evaluating trade fair success in general. Good controlling makes it clear, for example, how many prospects were on site and how many exciting leads were captured. Keep the questionnaire short and only ask relevant questions to keep the barrier to recording as low as possible. Evaluation is particularly easy if conversation notes are captured digitally. This makes it quick and easy to contact leads by the right contact person in your company afterwards.

How can you convince colleagues from controlling?

Do these statements sound familiar to you? "We are only present at a few trade fairs" or "Our main visitors are existing customers." Sales and marketing departments have numerous reasons why they do not need trade fair controlling. However, motivated employees are a prerequisite for good controlling, so the question arises: How can you convince your colleagues?

We have answers to the most common objections from marketing and sales:

"Our main visitors are existing customers."
Regardless of whether it is a potential customer or an existing customer, the same approach should be pursued and the conversation should be recorded. In addition, controlling provides information on the proportion of prospects and existing customers. Recording also makes it possible to survey existing customers, for example, about their trade fair presence. Based on this, the trade fair stand can be revised and even better tailored to the needs of customers. The more satisfied the customers are, the more likely they are to remain customers. This ultimately results in more revenue for the company.

"We are only present at a few trade fairs."
Companies often only attend a few specific trade fairs, which are all the more relevant for their respective industries. In addition, the trade fair appearance costs both time and financial resources. Therefore, it is important to know afterwards whether the investment was worthwhile or not. Trade fair controlling makes the success or failure visible and that is relevant for every trade fair.

"We have a strong works council."
To comply with data protection regulations, it is possible to anonymize the activities of individual colleagues. This means that it is not possible to trace which colleague recorded which trade fair contact or how many.

"We do not want to overwhelm our sales team."
Older colleagues in particular often shy away from digitally recording their trade fair contacts. However, the technical hurdle should not be used as an excuse. A compromise would be to query fewer but particularly relevant factors for the company in the form of free text fields, which can also be filled out with a speech-to-text function.

Which KPIs are relevant and when and where should they be evaluated?

When capturing various factors, it makes sense to differentiate between daily and downstream evaluation. These should be collected in your CRM system or, if available, in a trade fair lead app and then analyzed within the CRM campaigns.

On the day of the trade fair, the most important thing is to record who the prospect is assigned to, i.e., who is relevant for further internal processing. It may be that the person is not present, so the assignment must be possible without problems. For an optimal starting point, the lead should be contacted on the same or at the latest the following day - otherwise, your competitor may be faster. In addition, it makes sense to evaluate key figures on the same day that have a direct influence on your trade fair appearance. This includes, for example, optimal trade fair stand utilization and product interest. In the trade fair briefing the next morning, adjustments can still be made to the booth personnel, ensuring that the right personnel is on site at the right time.

After the trade fair, the number and value of leads should be analyzed and prioritized according to their relevance to your company. In addition, it makes sense to evaluate soft factors, such as feedback on the trade fair appearance, in order to be even better at the next trade fair. Depending on the sales cycle, it may take some time to determine the return on investment of the trade fair. However, this is meaningful to decide whether the trade fair was successful or not. Depending on the company, there are other important KPIs that should be analyzed.


The success of trade fair controlling depends on the questionnaire used and the commitment of your trade fair team on site. In addition, the system landscape, such as CRM, marketing automation, and other systems, has enormous effects on the possibilities of controlling. Therefore, processes should be as fast and simple as possible through digital lead capture, for example.

You want to switch from pen and paper to digital lead capture? Then try snapADDY VisitReport for free and without obligation for 14 days:

Carina Hoßfeld

Marketing Assistant at snapADDY GmbH

Carina Hoßfeld works in marketing at snapADDY GmbH since 2020 and is completing her master's degree in the same field. She has successfully completed a business training course and a bachelor's degree in business administration. In addition, she has acquired practical experience in project organization and marketing in other positions and internships.