Each year Las Vegas hosts the Catersource Event-Solutions Conference & Tradeshow. This year it occurred March 8th through 11th, 2015. The huge event provides resources for caterers and brings together buyers and sellers, professionals, and audiences that are looking for new ideas or hoping to grow with the ones they already have in the catering business.
Below is my analysis of how the Catersource Trade Show represented itself on social media channels before, during, and after the 2015 event. Note- this is strictly for educational purposes.
Twitter hands down was the strongest channel used by Catersource for their 2015 tradeshow. As far back as December (and I’m sure even before that), @Catersource_llc has been building up excitement for the event. In almost every daily post, the hashtag #CSES2015 has been used, and information about the event has been shared. Whether it be congratulating someone on winning a giveaway, promoting early bird pricing and hotel deals, or announcing key presenters at the event, they have been consistent in posting daily leading up to the event.
During the event, Catersource was on top of their tweeting game. Beyond simple updates on how the event was progressing, Catersource would retweet statuses and pictures from attendees to show different perspectives and how people were enjoying the event. Congratulations were given for each award presented, and sponsors/attendees were tagged. Showing off these sponsors and attendees shows that Catersource is proud of their audience and fans.
With so much going on at this huge event, following Catersource’s twitter feed was great way to pick up on things that may have easily missed. Reminders of when sessions started and where to find educational material was constantly being tweeted.
As the event came to a close on March 11th, @Catersource_llc tweeted “Thank you to all of our sponsors, exhibitors and attendees who helped us make this years #CSES2015 truly spectacular! See you all next year!” Since this tweet, nothing further has been posted.
Catersource’s use of Facebook during the trade show was somewhat lackluster. Before the main event, articles were shared and pictures were posted to create hype for the upcoming show, also using #CSES2015. These were posted for months before, more so on a weekly basis than a daily one. As of March 2nd, daily post providing additional information and counting down to the event began, always with images, links, and #CSES2015. Though the event started on March 8th, no posts were made on Facebook on this date. On March 9th, an album was created showing off attendees of the event, presenters, food samples, demonstrations, etc. I think this photo album was a great use of Facebook. Sponsor logos were captured in some of the pictures, attendees could be seen at sessions, and how demonstrations were formed were documented so people who could not attend could see what they have missed. Several other posts were made to Catersource’s Facebook page this date also.
Catersource used Facebook to share long statuses that they would not be able to post on Twitter, and would probably be overlooked on Instagram. These included schedules for the day, and photo albums showing off the event. Promotion of the mobile app was made prior to the event as well as on March 10th to remind attendees of the handheld resource they could use. The last post was made, another album to document the day, on March 10th, and no other posts have been made. It would be beneficial for Catersource to recap the event on Facebook to show what a success it was and to thank all of the attendees and sponsors.
Catersource’s Instagram was a solid attempt at using this social media site to increase traffic, but ultimately I think it fell flat. Posts did not begin until only two days before the event, therefore teasers and the chance to market and stir up excitement for the event was missed out on. Catersource only has 1448 followers on instagram, but they still could have created some form of pre-event marketing. The hashtag #CSE2015 was used in every posts, but more pictures were tagged by other users than were posted by Catersource themselves. The trade show posted 53 pictures between March 6th and March 11th, but they have yet to post anything post-event. This is clearly missed opportunity to expand their brand and increase followers on Instagram.
The pictures posted on Instagram were focused more around winners and presenters than around the food samples or sponsors at the event. Though there definitely were some creative pictures that show what was going on each night, I feel there could have been more pictures to show off who was there, the turnout of people, or more of how each day progressed.
Catersource.com has a tab dedicated to the Conference & Tradeshow specifically, and this tab is full of great information. One of the greatest ways they have integrated additional media marketing is through the creation on a mobile app that helps attendees of the show manage their schedule for each day. With so much going on and so many sessions occurring simultaneously, this is an easier way for people to see where and when something is happening without constantly having to track down a schedule of events.
Prior to the tradeshow, this mobile app was promoted on Facebook and Twitter. An online 2015 Catersource Conference brochure was also created that outlined everything the event would be about, as well as listing out every sponsor of the event.
Overall, the Catersource Event-Solution Tradeshow was very consistent in branding and marketing. Their use of social media sites as well as additional IMC techniques was strong in some aspects, yet weak in others. Twitter was the strongest platform used, and the use of Facebook for photo albums documenting the event each day was a great idea. Instagram fell flat, but the use of a mobile app was greatly beneficial to attendees. Catersource needs to cross promote on each social media platform letting followers know what they are sharing where. With the exception of a few Instagram posts on Twitter, no cross promotions could really be seen. Though great marketing was done prior to and during the event, post event follow ups on each social media site would really be a great way to wrap up the event entirely, as well as shout out to each sponsor who made the event possible.