Genexpo – a Mexican initiative to organically develop new, bigger and better expos

February 16, 2017


Blogger: President of International Trade Information, Inc

Instead of doing a Familiarization (FAM) trip, why not help launch and grow shows already in your building? Here is an innovative initiative one second-tier Mexican convention center sponsored to increase business.

Genexpo is an exhibition-mentoring program co-founded and produced by MICE Market, Tecnológico de Monterrey (a University) and Amprofec, the Mexican Association for the Exhibition Industry. We spoke with José Navarro, Vice-Chair of the UFI Latin American Chapter, VP of Institutional Relations for Amprofec and Regional Director, Mexico of UFI member E.J. Krause about the recently completed inaugural program at the Chihuahua Convention Center. Jose talked about the program at the UFI Congress last year in Shanghai.

He began, “By creating something for the entrepreneurs coming to your venue – a coaching program, you have a better way to grow events in your venues. We started this in part because shows in Mexico don’t usually move venues.

“Many shows (new ones in particular) don’t do business plans, analysis or enough research. Potential show producers say, for example, ‘I’m going to do a Wedding Show’, but have no idea of the amount of work involved to make an exhibition successful. Genexpo addresses this challenge by helping organizers build a true business plan. They end up with a live document and blueprint/baseline in order to have a successful Wedding Show.”

Genexpo was a hands-on mentoring workshop for new and growing exhibitions held or to be held at the Chihuahua Convention Center in northern Mexico. Instead of training people, like IAEE’s CEM program or Amprofec’s Coexpo program, it is about moving an entire show forward.

José explained, “We brought in Tecnológico de Monterrey as they have a lot of experience in incubating/accelerating businesses. All of the exhibition professionals who taught modules donated their time – and everyone signed non-disclosures.” Marketing, sales and sponsorships, budgeting, legal issues, strategic alliances, and operations modules are all included in the program.

Participants were invited by the venue. For a small registration fee (most of the program was underwritten by the State government and the venue) their show and/or project was signed up. They were invited to bring team members to relevant modules.

“Incubating is like launching a show and Accelerating equals growth. Over the course of two days, each module would begin on a common theme taught by an exhibition professional.  We asked questions such as: How can you change up your floor plan to make it more profitable and exciting? What’s the content of your conference, and does it have a ‘wow’ moment? Compare visitors you are expecting to content you are offering. Does it mesh? What is going to motivate people to attend your expos?”

Of the 18 exhibitions originally signed up, 8 made it through the entire six-month process and came out with a vetted, specific business plan for their exhibition. The 10 exhibitions that dropped out of the program weren’t ready for the final product for a number of reasons. However, they are still eligible for coaching when they are ready to move forward.

The completed business plans were then submitted to a council of experts who judged and further critiqued them – giving them grades. All passing grades received the reward: a discount on exhibit space.

This is a smart program that may be implemented in other parts of Mexico as well as the rest of the world. Other countries have shown interest in adopting the program. It’s a great way to lower exhibition launch failures and help the exhibition industry grow.

Digital trade fair marketing provides the platform for connecting real and digital worlds

February 14, 2017


Blogger: Henric Uherek, Coordinator Messe Frankfurt

Trade fairs are increasingly connecting the digital and the real world. Henric Uherek, Coordinator Messe Frankfurt, explains the challenges that this development poses for exhibitors and trade fair organizers and what’s up next for digital trade fair marketing in 2017 and beyond.

Artificial intelligence, big data and automation – many exciting technologies continued to develop rapidly in 2016. Which digital marketing trends do you foresee for 2017?

In general, the trend toward real-time communication of the past two years will continue to play an important role within digital trade fair marketing. Especially the large agencies will be the primary drivers behind this development. Medium-sized German industrial companies, which make up our primary target group, adapt to such trends much more slowly. Digital advertising and social media have just recently become established in this area. Trends like personalization, real-time market places, marketing automation and better segmentation of target groups are still just a dream for most, but will reach the broad masses of these companies in the coming year.

Which of these trends play an important role in the trade fair environment?

What we used to refer to as event communication is now called live communication and this will be a big trend in 2017. A growing number of companies is realizing that they need topics for their digital communication and that they have to make their brands tangible. To achieve this, companies have to interact with their target groups in real spaces – regardless of whether at trade fairs, events, pop-up stores or showrooms. Some digital brands like Zalando have engaged in a targeted search for spaces and are opening outlet stores. We also offer this type of real space with our trade fairs. What’s more, we provide the ideal platform for connecting the real and the digital world. Companies that succeed in making this connection are currently gaining a clear competitive advantage.

However, many exhibitors still don’t realize the potential of this connection. Our task therefore consists of providing our customers with information about how to ideally use our digital services to gain the attention of the target groups we bring together. After all, preparation and the actual trade fair visit are now already largely carried out in the digital sphere. Based on our usage statistics, we can see that all our trade fair visitors also visit us online. In other words, the target groups that the exhibitors want to reach first visit our event website and are also increasingly using our apps. We adorn the path from the trade fair website to the exhibitor search and then to the company’s own website or trade fair stand with numerous measures. In doing so, we serve as a catalyst for strengthening the marketing of our exhibitors. Several exhibitors have understood this trend and are presenting themselves with small stands, but a huge digital presence.

What big trends do you see for the future beyond 2017?

The most exciting new developments include the use of augmented and virtual reality. This represents a challenge for our core business, which we are responding to by considering future trade fair concepts within the framework of our Digital Transformation initiative. Two aspects will play an important role here – personal communication and digital product presentation. Trade fair stands will therefore be divided into two focus areas. One area will consist of exhibits and seating for personal meetings, which remains a strength of trade fairs, and a second area will consist of product presentations using digital screens and VR headsets. Both trends will become more focussed and professionalized: an authentic, emotional brand experience on the one hand and efficient, comprehensive communication of information, on the other, which also provides for an intensely emotional brand experience in virtual spaces. And once again both worlds are connected in digital trade fair marketing. But I only see this truly reaching the masses in the next five to ten years.

For more information about Digital Marketing Trends 2017 also read our articles The customer era: ten marketing trends for 2017.

A revolutionary partnership of trade show in Thailand built on firm foundations

January 17, 2017


Blogger: Nino Gruettke, Managing Director, VNU Exhibitions Asia Pacific

Even by DLG’s standards, the decision to partner with VNU Exhibitions Asia Pacific (VNU) in Bangkok for an Asian edition of its market-leading event Agritechnica is globally significant. This event, which hopes to emulate the success of its 400,000sqm forebear in Hanover, Germany, is making a bid to become the region’s defining event for the agricultural industry.

And as Managing Director of VNU Exhibitions Asia Pacific, I can tell you I haven’t seen a partnership like it in the industry until now. Our companies compete on livestock and now cooperate on agriculture.

But such a partnership in Thailand makes sense for organisers of the biggest agri-business events in the world; the country is a hub for machinery trade in a region known the world over for its agricultural industry.

The world’s top agricultural companies want to stand out in the region, and Agritechnica Asia will bring a new platform and opportunities to the development of agriculture in Asia. Mechanization through modern agricultural machinery will increase significantly in the next decade.

VNU doesn’t look at a country so much as the size of a buyers – in this case the farmers looking to improve the mechanisation and equipment they use in production.

Similar to VIV where 67 per cent of attendees are international, we are trying to start with an international show. Southeast Asia is, for example, the most neutral place to meet both the Chinese and the Indians.

And if you’ve got the top 20 Chinese and Indian companies, then that solves most of the requirements for your exhibitors. Add to this the Koreans, Thais, Indonesians and Malays and you have a really wonderful show.

And it’s here where TCEB can really help an exhibition organiser looking to launch in Thailand. Through a variety of campaigns such as their Exhibiz in Market campaign; a drive towards expanding exhibition space at events in Thailand, or the visitor promotion campaign Connect Businesses, which rewards a ‘Visitor-Promoter’ for organising a trade mission consisting of at least 10 visitors from the same country to Thailand at the rate of USD100 per visitor, TCEB is on-hand to support us.

While we and DLG are rewriting the rules of partnership in Asia, we do so safe in the knowledge that we have another partner already on the ground in TCEB.

10 Reasons Why I’m attending UFI’s Open Seminar in Asia and Educational Forum on Sustainability

January 12, 2017


Blogger: Stephanie Selesnick, President of International Trade Information, Inc

I attended my first European Seminar #ufibasel last year in Basel, Switzerland and found the education and networking to be excellent. Open to UFI members and non-members, my expectations are high for the two events taking place this February 21-24 in Singapore #ufisingapore for the following reason:

  1.  Singapore – the City-State is world famous for many reasons, among them sustainability in the face of limited natural resources.
  2.  Release of the UFI Case Study on Sustainability showcasing 41 cases from 19 countries. Lots to learn from!
  3.  More case studies from countries, venues and companies in the region committed to greening events.
  4.  UFI programs ample networking time into all of their events. It’s a great chance to meet with 250 of the movers and shakers from Asia and the world.
  5.  The Global Visitor Insights Report (co-authored by UFI and Explori) recommendations on how exhibitions in the region may improve the overall visitor experience. I suspect more than a few gems are applicable to the rest of the world.
  6.  Shopping – Singapore is renowned for its shopping – in traditional malls as well as open markets and boutiques.
  7.  Flirting with disaster in rapidly growing markets, Michael Kruppe from SNIEC will share solutions.
  8.  How online platforms and peer-to-peer marketplaces like AirBnB are changing how business is done around the globe.
  9.  WeChat is the 1 billion active user social media platform most people in the West have never heard of. It has changed how Chinese exhibition marketing and sales are done and disrupted many other industries. This discussion is part of a session focusing on Digital Trends in China.
  10.  Hotels – the 2 headquarters hotels are iconic and amazing. Who doesn’t want to check out (swim in) the famous infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands or enjoy ultra Chic Pan Pacific?


How can your exhibition help it’s industry’s youngest players survive and prosper?

December 12, 2016


Blogger: Stephanie Selesnick, President of International Trade Information, Inc.

CTA™ – the owners of CES International, the largest exhibition in the United States and UFI member, is known for doing innovative things – one of which directly answers the above question. They have a mentor program offered as a free benefit of association membership. “For small business owners and entrepreneurs, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Mentor Program pairs you with a mentor company who can give advice to help guide your company or improve your business acumen.”

CTA is very clear throughout the application process that this program is set up to help CTA members clear a hurdle – not to pitch the mentors during their allotted half hour confidential session. On the application, mentees are asked to explain the general issue or concern they need help with.

The way the Mentor Program works is pretty simple. After applications are received, they are disseminated to all of the mentors who have expertise in solving whatever problem or issue the mentee has. Those mentor(s) who decide they can help, either contact the mentee directly or the association provides the mentee with the mentor’s contact information and bio.

This program is great because it helps take new and fledgling companies – or companies experiencing growth pains – solve problems and grow with free advice they probably could not/cannot afford.

As we all know, most exhibition growth comes from new and up-and-coming companies. They are the ones who, as they grow, take more space and buy sponsorships. With a few exceptions, smaller entrepreneurial companies are the drivers of innovation and change within all of our industries.

Many UFI members are not associations, but are industry leaders. How can your organization help nurture its next generation?




5 trends to watch in 2017

December 7, 2016


Blogger: Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director

As in previous years, we used the time around the UFI Global Congress to identify the core themes that the UFI team feels will impact the global exhibition industry in 2017. So today, let me share with you “UFI’s 5 trends to watch in 2017”:

1. Growing uncertainties
In recent months, we have seen a UK vote on Brexit, a failed coup in Turkey, growing tensions between Russia and the West, and a US presidential election that shows a deeply divided country. All of these amount to a growing level of uncertainty around politics and business. Are trade agreements to be scrapped? Will travel to vital markets remain easy (and safe)? How will markets adapt to changing currency levels? There are numerous questions being addressed in corporate boardrooms all around the world. And they will impact how companies choose to participate in exhibitions in a more protectionist environment. How this will play out exactly for our industry is impossible to see, however,
let’s not forget that, especially in difficult times, exhibitions are used by whole industries to meet and to take stock themselves.

2. Geographical polarisation of global shows
Germany has long been a role model for growing global leading shows. In recent years, some of the strongest German show brands, whilst remaining strong at their home bases, have seen their own shows in Asia reaching and exceeding the exhibitor or visitor numbers at their home shows. In light of the current growth of protectionism, this growth of regional show champions in Europe, Asia, and the Americas might very well accelerate. This will provide new opportunities for national and regional organisers, going it alone or aligning with international players. In huge internal
markets, like the US and China, there are many excellent for-profit or association organisers who currently deliver successful shows without aiming at an international audience.

3. Digitalisation
The perennial love-hate relationship between our industry and digitalisation continues, but as ever more companies are digitising their own processes, data management and customer processes, they are proceeding fast on their very own digital learning curve. Chief Digital Officer positions have become more common in the past twelve months, working with the CEOs or on the Board on fast-tracking digital developments. At the same time, the fear of major disruption, in the style of Uber disrupting the taxi business, has diminished. In its stead, a broad field of companies are offering digital service solutions that can benefit organisers as well as cut into segments of their business model. Service providers are already forming alliances with these event tech companies to offer their services in bundles to organisers, both to minimise the complexity and to strengthen their own role as ever more important partners. One “place to watch” is data handling and privacy laws. The growing complexity here will put strain on everyone, and Russia’s recent ban on LinkedIn shows the pitfalls here.

4. Operational excellence
In almost all leading international markets, there is no lack of venue space that can be used to run successful exhibitions. However, many organisers find it difficult to work with a number of venues, citing a lack of operational experience and day-to-day processes at the venues and local support companies. While quality infrastructure is a must for hosting exhibitions, securing and training quality staff is an ongoing challenge. This has repercussions for issues as diverse as Health & Safety during build-up and operations to on-site security or exhibitor services. It is an interesting observation that many European venues, while investing billions in upgrading their venue capacities, are also eager to invest in staff training and development. Venues run by international companies in developing markets are also taking a lead on staff training in these markets, quickly setting themselves apart from reginal competitors. In general, the growth of exhibitions in Asia and the construction of venues to accommodate them has strained the labour pool, making operational excellence even more important, but harder to achieve.

5. Business models in review (maybe)
Finally – the growing levels of uncertainty, waves of digital changes, and shifting economic climates are all leading to a fresh new look at where the exhibition business as a whole is headed. With “business as usual” being less of an option, organisers, venues, and service providers are all increasingly open to change, maybe even to disrupting  themselves. Value propositions are being challenged, new and different talent is being hired. Exhibitions are adding ever more content (and making money by doing so) and utilising data ever more intensely. Private equity run organisers are setting the pace for change, challenging the status quos. All this leads to an increasing focus on finding, and retaining, the right staff – everywhere from boardroom to administration. The game of musical chairs for leadership positions in our industry will for sure continue.

8 success factors for the exhibition ground of the future

December 5, 2016


Blogger: Christoph Spangenberg, Corporate Communications, MCH Group

Exhibition grounds must meet their customers’ requirements at all times and, in the ideal case, must more than meet their needs. Precisely what goes to make up a successful exhibition complex, and how an exhibition complex can equip itself for the future was set out by MCH Group CEO René Kamm at the UFI Global Congress in Shanghai, taking the example of Messe Basel. Around 600 industry leaders met there in early november, in order to discuss the future of the exhibition sector.

BASELWORLD 2013 | Outside View | Messeplatz

1. Don’t build too big: quality not quantity

With the new exhibition hall complex by architects Herzog & de Meuron, the exhibition surface at Messe Basel was reduced from 162,000 to 141,000 square metres in 2013. Since then, however, it has been possible to adapt the exhibition halls to accommodate virtually any customer wishes. The big continuous surfaces – the hall space on the first floor extends over a length of 420 metres without any interruptions – permit flexible event layouts. Hall heights of up to ten metres permit multi-storey stands. The reduction in exhibition space is in line with the current trend, since most of the exhibition grounds in Europe are not planning any capacity increases over the years to come.

2. Create an architectural landmark

The new complex by Herzog & de Meuron that was opened in 2013 is more than just a new exhibition hall. With the new Hall 1, together with the Event Hall and the City Lounge spanning Exhibition Square, the architects have created a new Basel landmark, which ranks amongst the most popular photo motifs, alongside the cathedral and the old town.

3. Be an attractive brand touchpoint for events and their customers

The Basel exhibition halls and Exhibition Square are incorporated in the shows and thus form part of the product, as it were. The infrastructure can be branded with just a minimal outlay: with structures and gardens on Exhibition Square, oversized posters on the façades, LED strips and additional details. Visitors are thus welcomed the moment they arrive and immerse themselves in the brand world.

4. Offer a high level of comfort

Messe Basel is located in the heart of the city and can be reached from the three railway stations and the airport in a matter of minutes. Several tram lines serve Exhibition Square. Visitors benefit from short distances both on the exhibition site and within the city as a whole. The concept of an “exhibition in the city” additionally offers guests an urban environment with a large number of restaurants, hotels, museums, clubs and theatres. Messe Basel provides its guests with a free WLAN.


5. Be flexible: parallel events, multifunctionality, catering

A number of events for different stakeholder groups can be staged at one and the same time at Messe Basel. Hence, in autumn 2016, the Basel Wine Fair, Gourmet Fair and Autumn Trade Fair and also the Baloise Session concert series are all being staged in parallel inside the exhibition halls, while the entertainments for the Basel Autumn Fun Fair are running on Exhibition Square and in Hall 3. Alongside these come the schedules at the Congress Center Basel and the Musical Theater Basel. The multifunctional nature of the buildings is in line with the trend for exhibitions to become multifunctional events and ensures that the location can be configured to suit almost any requirements. Hence, the Event Hall Basel is used to stage not only trade fairs but also concerts, corporate events, exhibitions and company general meetings. To ensure the greatest possible level of flexibility, there are no permanent restaurants in the halls. The restaurants are configured to meet customer wishes and supplied from a big central kitchen.

6. Be sustainable and energy-efficient

Messe Basel uses the roofs of its halls to generate electricity from solar energy. Since 1999, a 1900 square-metre solar installation on the roof of Hall 1 has produced around 215,000 kWh of electricity each year. In 2013, an installation four times the size was added on the roof of the new hall complex. This feeds some 1.08 million kWh of electricity into the grid each year. In addition, the MCH Group supported the construction of a further photovoltaic system on the roof of the Congress Center Basel, which supplies around 180,000 kWh of solar electricity each year.

7. Meet the increased demands on safety and security

The safety of organisers and visitors must be guaranteed both at events requiring the highest level of security and at smaller exhibitions – from an OSCE Ministerial Council where the exhibition ground is hermetically sealed off through to fundamentally public and correspondingly accessible events of all kinds. Messe Basel is subject to round-the-clock surveillance from a central security control room. 385 fixed-position cameras and 82 360-degree cameras monitor the infrastructure and the site. Almost 500 gates and doors are controlled via the security system. With more than 5000 smoke detectors and also sprinkler installations, the buildings are equipped with dual fire-protection systems. A total of 630 hand-held fire extinguishers are available and more than 200 wall hydrants. Added to this comes the intensive cooperation between the security staff, police, rescue services and fire brigade.

8. Ensure that the technical infrastructure is fit for the future

Virtual conferences, electronic registration, multimedia shows: technical developments are increasing the range of available options and giving rise to more sophisticated customer wishes. The infrastructure must keep pace with this. For concerts, the Event Hall at Messe Basel is equipped with a flexibly installable stage and, through one of our partners, offers all types of technical infrastructure that can be installed on a mobile basis as and when required. The Congress Center Basel is accommodating the trend towards virtual meetings by also offering hybrid conferences that are staged both on-site and virtually. Experts can deliver their presentations in a webinar, for example, and the subsequent discussion can be streamed live from the Congress Center into the internet, where participants can make their contributions no matter where they happen to be. The Congress Center Basel is also equipped for the production of live TV images. At exhibitions, electronic registration enhances visitor comfort and offers attractive opportunities for subsequent contact and marketing.

%d bloggers like this: