Every year exhibitions attract tons of visitors in a very short space of time, making it possible for exhibitors to rapidly grow their businesses. Although the aim is for every exhibitor to increase sales and build brand awareness, many exhibitors lose sales due to a lack of service from their card payment facilitators.
This month’s blog post is about understanding the events and exhibitions industry from a card payments perspective and how WAPPoint became a leader in this industry.
9 Advantages That Will Help You Make The Most of Your Events:
We have noticed that there are key scenarios that differentiates this industry from the rest of the economy. Here is a summary of such merchant service related scenarios that will set the scene and allow you to better comprehend the fast paced nature of the events and exhibitions nature:
- Connectivity / Signal Problems – Many service providers only offer Single SIM devices or operate solely on 3G or WI-FI connections. When expos get busier, signal may become a problem and not being able to switch between networks could cost an exhibitor thousands of Rands in lost sales. Our clients benefit from 3rd Party Signal Boosting that increases the signal strength for the SIM cards used in WAPPoint machines and we offer Dual SIM Machines.
- Backup Solutions On-Site– Because of the limited time that exhibitors have to make their sales, exhibitors cannot afford to be offline during an event. When technical faults occur, they are forced to log a call on a helpdesk and wait hours or even days for a swap out. As we attend most exhibitions, we prefer to leave backup devices or solutions on-site. Through a quick call to our 24/7 helpline, we can get you up and running again in minutes! We also offer every exhibitor a free web terminal to transact on if all else fails.
- Last Minute Sign Up–Many exhibitors only get accepted for a stand at the last minute or realise at the last minute that they require an additional card machine. Unfortunately most suppliers take anything from 2 weeks to 2 months to process a merchant application and often require a ton of paperwork to go with it. We are known for signing up exhibitors at the drop of a hat. Our motto is that with WAPPoint you can start accepting card payments within 24-72 hours. If we are attending the event, we have helped exhibitors sign up in as little as 30 minutes!
- Online Sign Up– Many exhibitors are known for being on the road. They simply don’t have access to printers and fax machines and merchant agreements are longer than a marriage contract! We believe in hassle free sign up. Everything can be done telephonically or online and completed within minutes!
- Delivery & Collection Convenience – We are one of the only suppliers who will deliver at shows and collect at the end of the event if you only need a short term rental.
- Short & Long Term Contracts – Many exhibitors only need a card facility on a short term basis and most suppliers force you to commit to long contract terms or purchase the terminal outright. If you do not need a credit card machine on a permanent basis, you can choose to rent for the duration of your event only.
- Flexibility – Adding an extra device or a different device to your existing merchant account can require you to re-complete agreements and re-commit to long term contracts each time. We offer the flexibility to change your package and your terminal as often as you wish. You can even have some devices on a long term contract and others on expo basis only. Take a look at these 3 Reasons Why You Need Flexibility From Your Merchant Services Provider to find out more.
- Reporting – As exhibitors focus solely on making sales during the event, sometimes the paperwork becomes a mess and reconciling card sales an even bigger problem. Most service providers do not offer reporting and those who do can charge up to R400pm for this! We provide free reporting in CSV format which you can download from our website at any time and we send an email transaction report each time a settlement is made to your account. This could save you thousands of Rands in accounting hours.
- Every Payment Solution Under One Roof – Most service providers only offer card machines or smart phone terminals. We offer the full range of payment terminals under one roof making it so much easier to integrate your business into one system. The best part is, you can switch between them as your business’ needs change so you never have to feel trapped.
What Makes The Events And Exhibitions Industry Different?
We have been a registered EXSA (Exhibition & Events Association of Southern Africa) member and industry service provider for more than a decade and have built up valuable knowledge of the industry over the years. Take a look at the key benefits and challenges faced by exhibitors who trade within the industry:
The Benefits of Exhibiting:
- Increased brand awareness: By choosing the right event, you will have the opportunity to promote your brand to multiple potential customers. Our estimates indicate that the average South African exhibition has between 30 000 and 80 000 visitors over a 3 day period.
- Face-to-Face Interaction: Speaking to your target market is possibly one of the most important forms of market research that you can take part in. As an exhibitor you get the chance to directly interact with your current and potential customers. This allows you the ability to gather their opinions and insights which can ultimately lead to innovations and service improvements that will grow your business exponentially.
- Increased Sales Revenues: Many businesses exhibit purely on the basis of using these events to boost sales figures and eliminate excess stock. You can easily generate a month’s revenues at one exhibition as long as you offer the right value proposition and have access to your specific target market. Take a look at our blog article for more info: Why Exhibitors Need a WAPPoint Card Payment Machine
- Networking: Events and Exhibitions allow to you rub shoulders with your competitors and industry partners. You can use this to your advantage to meet key decision makers within your industry and build potential service partnerships or gather valuable market information.
- Database Growth: By introducing a unique call to action during an exhibition, you can build up a database to use for future marketing and sales activities. Constantly increasing your mailing list will allow you to drive new traffic to your website, increase conversion rates and ultimately improve sales.
- Increased Marketing Collateral: By ensuring visitors engage with your brand you can maximise the amount of brand exposure that you get by using social media and word of mouth to generate Positive PR, drive website traffic and create a tangible buzz about your offering.
The Challenges Exhibitors Face:
- Time: We have already mentioned that this industry is very fast paced and that you will have a very short time frame to achieve your goals at the event or exhibition. It is also important to plan ahead. All too often, exhibitors leave their arrangements to the last minute and end up suffering as a result.
- External Factors: Weather can heavily affect the performance of an event. If you are at an outdoor show and it rains all weekend, it will affect the number of visitors who attend unless you prepare for this and have a backup plan to get your customers to the event. Facing the problem and marketing accordingly can help you achieve this.
- Organiser/Visitor Dependence: With the condensed nature of this industry, there is always an element of risk involved in exhibiting. You trust that the organisers of the event have done enough to ensure that they deliver on their promises and generate the feet required to make the event a success. The organisers again trust that you have done enough to ensure that the visitors will receive the service they require at the event. The events and exhibitions industry is ultimately based on co-operation and trust between all stakeholders in order for it to prosper.
- Logistics: First time exhibitors often struggle to effectively plan for their event as they do not know how much stock they will need and how visitors behave compared to visitors at their shops. This often leads to them not fully catering for their needs during the event.
The WAPPoint Story:
Back in the “olden days” before mobile credit card machines, smartphone terminals and online payment platforms were available in the South African market, we were supplying traditional credit card machines to businesses across the country. As we continued to grow, more and more customers began enquiring about ways of accepting payments outside of their place of business. At the turn of the millennium we became known as WAPPoint (Pty) Ltd.
We realised that there is a definite need for mobile card payments facilities and jumped at the opportunity. Step one led to us developing the world’s first cell phone terminal that used “WAP” internet connectivity to allow you to process credit card transactions on your internet enabled cell phone. As this was the first technology of this kind available to businesses who wished to accept credit card payments in different locations, our popularity skyrocketed within the events and exhibitions industry. Exhibitors from all over the country got in touch with us and we became the first events supplier of card facilities for outdoor events that could provide a service that did not require a constant electricity supply.
From here on, our relationship with event organisers began to grow as we became partners at informing the public of our service capabilities and began offering support at shows to ensure that our service took businesses where they have never been before.
In 2006 the organisers of the Gauteng Outdoor and Eco Adventure Expo got in touch with us regarding a particular problem that they had been facing. This was to be able to accept both debit and credit card payments at their entrance gates which did not have electricity. To give you some perspective, credit card machines at that time could only be operated by connecting to a fixed telephone line or by making use of a device called an X-Link which used SIM cards to connect and acted as a modem for the machines. Both of these options required constant electricity. By putting our heads together we came up with the creative solution of building a POS unit that could be easily transported and had a long enough power supply to be used at these locations. Thus the first “mobile” debit and credit card machines were born.
With this breakthrough in the events and exhibitions industry we became the market leader and established supplier relationships with the organisers of some of South Africa’s largest expos and festivals. We have grown from strength to strength have evolved into the leading events specialised merchant service provider.
How We Have Evolved:
Since our initial entry into the industry we have developed a completely unique service offering for both exhibitors and event organisers that has significantly improved their ability to accept card payments and reduce risks arising from the challenges facing the industry as mentioned above.
Our statistics indicate that up to two thirds of transactions are made by card. Exhibitors who do not make use of card payment facilities or the correct facility for that matter are at risk of losing potential sales or wasting money on unnecessary overheads. Take a look at this article for all the important things you should know before choosing a merchant service provider.
We have been a registered EXSA (Exhibition & Events Association of Southern Africa) member and industry service provider for more than a decade and have built up valuable knowledge of the industry over the years.
Let’s recap what products we offer.
Our Smartphone Terminal is a handy and low cost device that works with your smart device to accept debit and credit card payments. Our Online Terminal or E-Commerce platforms offer merchants a payment platform that is ideal for sales generated where the customer is either not present or when fulfilment takes place elsewhere. The Mobile Debit & Credit Card Machines are universally accepted card payments devices that boast state of the art technology and are the best option for larger exhibitors. To find out more about our great offerings take a look at our Services page.
Event organisers have a very basic requirement which is to have happy exhibitors and happy visitors. Achieving this goal is not an easy task. We have evolved our service offerings for the events and exhibitions industry in order to provide the following:
How We Work Alongside Organisers:
Working with over 500 events a year has allowed us to become the preferred supplier at almost all of the large commerce based events and exhibitions in South Africa. We work directly with event organisers to provide them and their exhibitors with mobile credit and debit card machines. Here’s a brief summary of how we may be working with the organiser of your next event:
- Preferred Supplier – When we become the preferred supplier for an event, the organisers place our information in the event’s exhibitor manual and informs the exhibitors of our services. This helps you as the exhibitor to get connected before an event and ensure that you are equipped to maximise your revenues during the event. We can deliver machines at the events where we have clients and leave backup machines to minimise potential down-time.
- Official Supplier – Here we partner with the organisers to work directly with the exhibitors and ensure that each vendor is aware of the possibilities available to them. Should we and the organisers reach our goal of exhibitors with WAPPoint machines, the WAPPoint team provides dedicated on-site support at the event.
- Sole Supplier – Collaborating with organisers in this way ensures that every exhibitor is using a WAPPoint card machine at a fraction of the cost that an exhibitor would pay on their own. This creates a completely secure environment where every exhibitor is able to accept card payments. We work with the organisers throughout the year to reduce bottlenecks at the event, provide them with key insights into the card payments performance of the event and strategise ways of improving the financial performance for the event and the exhibitors.
- Cashless – We have recently included cashless offerings for organisers. Here we offer organisers the opportunity to eliminate the risk of handling cash at events, increase visitor spend by up to 30%, eliminate the need for ATMs and gain complete control of the event. Our cashless offer provides tangible benefits for event organisers, exhibitors and visitors.
If you are an event organiser or exhibitor, please take a look at our Exhibitions Page to find out more about how we can help optimise the payments experience and visitor engagement.
Where We Are Headed:
The market is constantly changing and evolving. To ensure that we effectively cater for the needs of the organisers and exhibitors whom we work with, we are constantly improving our service offering and developing new technologies to ensure that we continue to lead the way in the card payments industry.
We have just introduced event ticketing into our offering which allows organisers who cannot afford the services of suppliers currently providing ticketing services to make use of customised ticketing software that is quickly and conveniently available to them.
The next leap that our team is working on is to provide a complete solution that offers event organisers the most advanced event service in the industry. In the very near future event organisers will be able to work with us to provide a completely cashless environment that breaks through the current mindset of bottlenecks and increased costs. This service will include event ticketing, revolutionary access control management, not currently available in the South African marketplace and integrated brand engagement platforms that will allow exhibitors, sponsors and visitors and organisers to actively engage with visitors and the general public in such a way that it produces tangible benefits and measurable ROI for all stakeholders.
Get in touch with our Events Team to find out how we can help you improve the financial performance and exhibitor/visitor experience at your event. Click the link below to #sayhello!