The main decisive factor determining whether an exhibitor is successful is whether the visitors expected by the exhibitor are actually in attendance. A lack of clarity about the visitor structure often leads to miscalculations and even to disappointments. Therefore, the first question to be asked when preparing for an exhibition must be whether an exhibition frequented by trade visitors or one frequented by private visitors is more beneficial for the company.

Visitors are referred to as trade visitors if they visit an exhibition for commercial/professional reasons. Whether this is the case is determined by a representative survey at the exhibition site within the FKM visitor structure test. By contrast, private visitors come on the basis of private/personal interest. In the case of consumer-goods exhibitions for trade visitors, the proportion of trade visitors is usually almost 100% because in general those interested have to prove their status as trade visitors. In the case of capital-goods exhibitions, the proportion can be lower because interested private visitors are not excluded.

At public exhibitions, the proportion of private visitors is significantly over 80%, but is rarely exactly 100%. This means that exhibitors can also always reach a smaller proportion of visitors with a professional interest from the relevant sectors at this type of event.

However, as a result of FKM-certified figures on the proportions of trade visitors and private visitors, exhibitors can always know what type of visitors they must primarily cater for when they are planning the design of their stand and bringing together the appropriate staff for the stand. Exhibitions which have both trade-visitor days and private-visitor days represent a particular challenge. Here, exhibitors must take account of the fact that the requirements placed on the staff on the stand and the design of the stand will differ because on private-visitor days the visitor numbers are considerably higher and private visitors have different information requirements even if they are interested in the same product as a trade visitor. It is nevertheless the case that exhibitors often find that some private visitors at special interest exhibitions are so well informed that they have virtually the same level of knowledge as a trade visitor.