There’s been a lot of commentary over the past few years about the decline of the exhibitions industry. Tightening budgets, sometimes bland and apparently rudderless marketing and declining visitor and exhibitor numbers all seem to suggest at face value that exhibitions, and by virtue the industry that surrounds it, is in perpetual decline.
But as a business immersed in the events and exhibitions world, our view at OrangeDoor is that the reality is rather more nuanced. We regularly attend exhibitions right across EMEA and further afield, both on behalf of our clients and in our own right and see many thriving exhibitions in multiple vertical markets. And, it’s very clear why these exhibitions are thriving when others in a similar space seem to struggle on or fold.
The common denominator is that these successful exhibitions have clearly defined (or redefined) their ‘why’ - their purpose, focus and reason for being and have, as a result, created an exhibition that works for the exhibitors and the visitors, not just the exhibition companies. Over the years, some exhibitions have been guilty of self-perpetuation, with the purpose of their existence seemingly to just be bigger and more profitable than the year before. But, that “stack ‘em high and sell ‘em expensive!” mentality and model, often driven by the virtual monopoly some larger exhibitions had in some industries is, thankfully, broken.
To demand a share of a decreasing marketing budget which needs to be spread across more marketing channels, smart exhibitions organisers have rethought their ‘why’ and positioned their events to clearly articulate this and offer genuine value and a positive experience for all parties in the process.
One of the ironies of business today is that in a world where more channels of communication are open to us than ever before, we crave (both personally and professionally) more than ever before the personalised approach; the interaction and warm relationship a face-to-face opportunity brings – and where better to cost-effectively achieve this than an exhibition? But, to complete this circular argument, the relationships fostered at exhibitions need to be based on dialogue rather than monologue, Information insight rather than overload and genuine commercially-driven added value rather than irrelevant and commercially-dubious add-ons.
It is those exhibition organisers who have married the three R’s of exhibitions - relationships, relevance and revenue growth (for the exhibitors too!) that have and will continue to succeed, because regardless of industry, in any event it’s the ‘why’ that matters.