Confex Group Portfolio Director Jonny Sullens is putting “quality content” and a new loyalty scheme at the heart of the strategy for International Confex 2012. Organiser UBM Live has invested “a significant six-figure sum” in the development strategy, Sullens revealed to CN.
The event industry exhibition moves to Excel London for the opening of its 26th edition, 6-8 March 2012, and Sullens has outlined the results of a long listening and research process undertaken with exhibitors, stakeholders and thought leaders in the industry.
“The overriding feedback was the need for quality content that makes the most of visitors’ and exhibitors’ time on the floor; from business opportunities to professional development, or just one great piece of inspiration,” said Sullens.
“Yes, we still want excitement, but we want to focus on the business element. It’s buyer meets seller and we want to facilitate this,” he told CN, adding there would be a much more “scientific approach to marketing to visitors and exhibitors”.
Confex has eschewed a full hosted buyer programme in favour of a colour-coded loyalty scheme that enables buyers and visitors to trade up their experience on the show floor.
“Buyers can enhance their experience by booking meetings and will be able to upload request for proposals pre-event so that exhibitors can see what events they are planning.”
Sullens said some elements of the IMEX/EIBTM hosted buyer VIP package would be available within the loyalty scheme on a case by case basis, including hosting in hotels, travel help, meals and transport. Buyers would take full control over who they met with.
Sullens said that if just 10 per cent of visitors booked five meetings each, then it could produce 5,000 pre-arranged meetings, five times the 2011 figure.
Current registration systems supplier ASP will run the technology for the new loyalty scheme, Sullens added.
The strategy was targeted, he said, on creating a new vision and delivering a return on time for all concerned. “People want more reasons to leave the office.
Ross Kemp and Jo Malone are two of the keynotes announced, with more to follow over the coming months.
Sullens also said there had really been “no choice” about using Excel London as the 2012 venue.
“London is moving east,” he said, adding he is looking for a deeper relationship with the industry associations. He claims, following some criticism last year, that the Association Day this time is “way ahead of the curve”. MPI, the AEO and ABPCO are three associations running sessions at the show.
There will also be a PA Day involving more than manicures and massages, with a ramping up of coaching and personal development aimed at this section of visitors.
Sullens expects 250 students to take part again in a focused programme and the Eventice competition will run again.
Sullens added that the new Confex/ICCA research on UK-based associations has already yielded 48 requests for the full report.
International Confex would also pitch to local authorities and continue its work with the Oyster group to increase the show’s international appeal.
Sullens hoped that a closer relationship with the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) and Britain for Events would deliver more politicians and he was confident that Minister for Tourism John Penrose would attend the show at Excel London.
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