answers from questions on the recent convergence of large scale events
(LSEs) and exhibitions ahead of the Conference Summit 2013.
What percentage of events do you think have changed to becoming more conference and exhibition-led?
the commercial conference market, I would say that perhaps one event in
twenty has a real exhibition component. However, these events are the
major drivers of profitability and growth.
In the exhibition world,
almost all shows now have content – but I’d say that no more than a
quarter have quality content and meaningful conferences at their core.
So this convergence is still new.
What are the key factors for this convergence?
again, this depends on what point of view you’re looking at it from.
The most important stakeholders are customers, who want engagement,
connection and high-level contact; but they also want to attend events
of scale, where they can meet the whole value chain in one place. So
most customers very much like the converged confex model. To my mind,
this is an important factor behind the success of the German Messe
Most conference companies aspire to creating and growing
large scale events. However, I would say that they do not always invest
and structure themselves in a way that delivers on the LSE strategy.
an exhibition point of view, content and conferences are increasingly
seen as key to protecting major brands, as well as a powerful way to
launch. There is confusion among exhibition organisers about what
conferences really are, and many exhibition companies simply create
standalone conference silos rather than investing in true confexes. I
have to say that those experiments are not creators of shareholder
What are the future trends do you foresee for LSEs and exhibitions?
small number of companies and individuals will work out how to
integrate conferences, exhibitions and online content/digital
- The convergence of all three items is important – those that are able to achieve this will be very successful.
- Exhibitions will move towards LSEs in a more consistent way, which will be a major threat to the conference industry.
this convergence should be embraced by conference companies: those who
artificially stop their LSEs from evolving into the new model will
remain in the ’boom and bust’ cycle, and ultimately be outcompeted by
exhibition, digital and media companies.
former European MD of Terrapinn focused on this development as he
discusses the integration of content-led events and exhibitions; a key
topic under debate at this year’s Conference Summit, to be held on 6
December at etc.venues’ Dexter House, London, where Bearne will act as a
Piers will be joined by other industry experts at the
Conference Summit, including: Katherine Kreuter, Head of Event
Productions and Content at Procurement Leaders – Global Intelligence
Network; Ben Wood, Event Marketing, Data Insight and Customer Service
Director at Incisive Media; and Jonathan Dewe, formerly Head of
Conferences at Economist.
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