Exhibition World Issue 2 — 2019 - Page 37

Cover feature building stuff,” said Rowe. “Exhibition stand and design companies are way much more than that, and do so much more, from marketing, designing through to installation. I still don’t think people get that and even some clients.” Young said the word ‘design’ was key and the idea of a ‘complete journey’, including pre-comms, who is invited, as well as the experience that takes place at the show. “If we’re not really thinking in terms of the whole process, how we can collaborate and market together beyond the show footprint.” Hoinkes said it was important to catch exhibitors early enough so that they are thinking about a comprehensive strategy on how they’re going to maximise their return on their investment. “Do they stand behind a desk that doesn’t invite people in for a conversation or are they going to set it up so it is warm and inviting? We have to look at the customer journey.” It seems the agencies are open to changing the stereotypes: “Sure, organisers have massive space to fill and shell scheme is the norm, but there are so many other options,” said Rowe. “You don’t have to just stick up posters on shell scheme.” “Should organisers, therefore, be matching more appropriately their relationships at Ops, Marketing and Sales levels to those of businesses like Ignition or M-is?” asked Burton. Onay thought it took a special kind of client to engage not a stand contractor but an end-to-end design company. “Those companies that outsource all of their exhibitions know what they want. But, we have a handful of clients coming to us before a show talking about how they can get more footfall on their stand.” “Those that ask questions such as, ‘Can we look at your data and do something together’. That is active. When that happens, when we work with an agency rather than the client itself, we find much better common ground and the clients tend to rebook. w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk So, we like it.” Young said it was no time to stand still, and warned of the speed of change washing away some previously healthy shows, such as Consumer Electronics Live. Burton also gave the example of the Basel Watch fair, “where,” he said, “an organiser absolutely believed it had a dialogue with its key exhibitors and woke up one day to find they had no such thing”. Clearly there are different cultural and national approaches clouding the communication issue further, such as US trade union restrictions and pipe and drape. Young’s view was that the US formula is “stuck in the past”. Rowe added that any show in America revolves around union labour, “so you have to learn” and watch the implications for budgets. Onay added that it would help holistically to have consistency in operating procedures around the world and he gave the example of health and safety being very advanced in the UK and fire safety is paramount in Russia, while India and Turkey had different challenges. “At ITE we are trying to get an Ops Bible out to help improve this situation,” he said. Alan Sheridan of Octanorm, from the audience, agreed on the differing standards among countries, even within Europe. “Maybe it is time for something new,” he said, “with shell scheme 50 years old this year.” Burton asked the agencies whether An organiser absolutely believed it had a dialogue with its key exhibitors and woke up one day to find they had no such thing. they were being asked about show selections rather than just delivery. The dialogue with organisers does appear to have fundamentally changed, agreed Young, who said his agency spent more time doing data research with organisers to find who is turning up as on the ROI or review of the show itself. “Agencies like us hold more information than the clients do and clients’ exhibition and marketing managers move on very quickly,” noted Rowe, again underlying the importance of the agency intermediary in the relationship. Burton said he perceived a growing realisation that tradeshows were no longer transactional sales tools but becoming more experiential. “There is an analogy here of what happened on the High Street,” Young added. “We have to innovate and bring in sustainability and change the way exhibitions are used.” EW’s editor asked the panel if we were talking the same language on sustainability? “There is still a long way to go,” said Hoinkes. “And much to do around educating exhibitors over what can be reused. Our own team didn’t know we were recycling carpeting, so we are concentrating now on giving company staff the knowledge to support customers. In conclusion, Burton felt that, “Ostensibly there’s no disconnect between exhibition organisers and design and build agencies that some ‘education’ wouldn’t fix, but the challenge is more profound than that. Despite sharing the same clients, ‘the exhibitors’, I don’t think the same language is being spoken. “We live in a global world and major exhibiting companies take a global view. This means that their trusted advisors on all things live and experiential are agencies with the scale, structure, insight and expertise to advise on event strategy and execution. The exhibition industry needs to adapt its communication to match this.” Issue 2 2019 37