Understanding Your Visitors’ Motivations and Expectations to Optimise the Attendee Journey

Posted 03/07/2023
Understanding Your Visitors’ Motivations and Expectations to Optimise the Attendee Journey

What makes someone want to attend your event and visit your booth?  

Is it curiosity, interest, or something else?  

Do you know how to attract and engage them? Do you know what drives them to do what they do?  

Finding the answers isn’t easy and it’s impossible to rely on assumptions or guesswork.  

You need to understand what motivates them, such as their goals, needs, interests, values, and emotions.  

You need a solid understanding of the psychology behind human motivation and behaviour. That’s why we want to introduce to our old-friend self-determination theory (SDT). 

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to Optimise the Attendee Journey  

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a psychological framework that explains what drives people to do what they do. It suggests that people have three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. When these needs are satisfied, people feel more intrinsically motivated (doing something because they enjoy it) rather than extrinsically motivated (doing something because they get something out of it).  

That’s why it’s called the attendee journey. It’s not only about the destination but also about the experience along the way. 

Satisfying the needs of your exhibitors 


Autonomy means having a sense of choice and control over one’s actions. To satisfy your visitors’ need for autonomy, you can offer them options and flexibility in how they interact with your booth. For example, you can: 

  • Let them choose how they want to receive your information (email, post, SMS, etc.) 
  • Let them customize their experience. 
  • Let them explore your booth at their own pace and order. 
  • Respect their preferences and avoid being too pushy or intrusive.  
  • Invite them to share their opinions or feedback on your product or service. Ask them open-ended questions and listen to their responses. 

Satisfying attendees’ need for autonomy will make them feel more empowered and valued, and therefore more likely to engage with your brand and offer. 


Competence means feeling capable and successful in one’s endeavours. To satisfy your visitors’ need for competence, you can offer them opportunities to learn and improve their skills or knowledge. For example, you can: 

  • Provide them with educational and informative content that teaches them something new or useful about your product or service. 
  • Provide them with feedback and recognition for their achievements. Give them badges, certificates, or prizes for completing certain tasks or challenges. 
  • Challenge them to try new things or solve problems related to your product or service. You can create quizzes, games, simulations, or demos that test their knowledge or skills. 
  • Help them overcome any difficulties or obstacles they may encounter. Offer tips, hints, guides, or support that help them solve any issues or questions they may have. 

By doing these things, you can make your visitors feel more confident and accomplished, and more interested in your product or service. 


Relatedness means feeling connected and valued by others. To satisfy your visitors’ need for relatedness, you can offer them a sense of belonging and connection with your brand and your staff. For example, you can: 

  • Build rapport and trust. Smile, make eye contact, listen actively, ask open-ended questions. 
  • Show them that you care about their needs and interests through using personalization techniques. 
  • Show them how your brand aligns with their values and goals. Why not tell stories that showcase your brand’s mission, vision, values and social impact? 
  • Encourage them to interact with other visitors who share similar goals or values.  

Satisfy your attendees’ need for relatedness and make them feel more connected and valued by you, your brand, and your staff. They’ll be more loyal and committed to your brand. 


What have we learned? 

Using self-determination theory (SDT) can help you understand your visitors’ motivations and expectations better than ever before. Getting into their heads means that you can tailor solutions that fit them, rather than simply telling them what you think they may want to hear.  

By satisfying their needs you can create more engaging and memorable experiences for them, and increase the chances of converting them into leads or customers. 

Are you ready to use SDT to optimise your attendee journey and create happy customers excited to use your products and services? Contact us today and make every exhibition a success. 

Posted 03/07/2023