In 2017, trade fairs and conferences are still one the most important ways of doing business. In spite of the rise of digital, exhibiting at events still represents the biggest slice of marketing spend. Why is this? Exhibiting at events is the preferred way to meet potential clients and accelerate the sales cycle – and this trend shows no sign of slowing. In some ways, digital has even given new opportunities for face-to-face marketing, The Digital Toolkit Study led by the CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research) shows that industry leaders have set up strategies to integrate digital solutions at every level of the participant’s experience and are highly focused on on-site engagement. These trends represent heavy growth for the whole industry bringing new value to attendees, exhibitors and galvanizing where exhibitions themselves sit in the sales channel. Event’s mobile application, AI, VR, AR, interactive technologies (Beacon, RFID, NFC) are being tested and implemented in many trade shows and will probably be common technologies in 2 to 3 years.
But interestingly, it seems that the event industry has missed some steps in its transition to the digital age. Especially when it comes to collecting and using data to improve purchasing decision-making for exhibitors and attendees. In 2016 already, the International Association for Exhibition and Events raised concern about that issue in the simplest way: “There is an increasing need for the industry to provide data to exhibitors about an exhibition to help the exhibitor decide whether to exhibit and to evaluate its exhibiting results”.
Finding relevant events remains a difficult task with no guarantee of success. Will there be business opportunities? How could I predict the quality of attendees? How do I get reliable unbiased feedback? How can I discover new events? These challenges exist in domestic markets and are amplified further when exhibiting at trade shows abroad.
Surprisingly no tech provider in the industry has focused on these issue to come up with relevant and innovative solutions. The result being quite simply that the way professionals search for trade fairs today is identical compared to 30 years ago. In concrete terms, there are typically 3 ways to go about doing this:
- Word-of-mouth: asking feedback about an event to other professionals in the same industry
- Creatures of habit: going to the same trade fair every year is a common behaviour. Indeed, trying new events is risky, expensive with no guarantee of success.
- Intermediaries: especially when going abroad, companies often book space on trade fairs pre-selected by public institutions like economic development agencies, trade missions or chambers of commerce such as the Department of Commerce or Business France
It’s clear that one should expect more in the digital age. Exhibitors miss valuable opportunities on trade fairs they didn’t know about as well as wasting time and money attending the same trade fairs year in and year out.
If meeting each other is as old as man, there is now a digital platform dedicated to event discovery that has been launched one month ago. It’s a new way to solve this event discovery enigma. It springs from a Paris-based startup created by an international team of three cofounders: Tradefest. It gives people the opportunity to browse through 20,000 events worldwide. Is the event worth attending? Who are the potential visitors and exhibitors?
Furthermore, organizers collect valuable feedback from user reviews highlighting what they do best and also advice on where to focus on what needs improvement.
Users get reliable data, share reviews and insights on exhibitions they’ve attended, find out about new events, select industry specific trade fairs and conferences and avoid known pitfalls.
Data collection and data management is still at its early stage of development in the exhibition industry but expected to offer invaluable benefits for the industry in the long run, empowering customer voice for the best – just like it happened a decade ago in other industries like for example the BtoC Travel industry.
“Almost all attendees, exhibitors and organizers we have met agreed that, in the events industry, the voice of the customer needed a new space to express itself. In the age of digital, discovering events or getting feedback shouldn’t be such a difficult and time-consuming task. Today, we are very proud to release Tradefest and help small, medium and big companies Find Events, Grow Global.”, sums up Paul Revellat, Co-founder and CEO.
Well maybe now is about time to really make the best out of your next trade fair!