The countdown to the UFI Open Seminar in Asia is just seven days away. During the past few weeks we have had a sampling of what’s in store for you through my postings. The final speaker in the seminar will be Matthias Baur, Director e-business development for Reed Exhibitions. His topic will be, “Putting Events and Online Together.” Here are his answers to my questions.
Barry: Where do you see online strategies (marketing, virtual, social media, etc) being the most help in the world of exhibitions?
Matthias: In the world of exhibitions, I believe online strategies should focus on bringing exhibitors and visitors together.
In the past there have been many discussions as to whether online can replace exhibitions. So far, I don’t think online can replace the trust that is built during face to face meetings, but online can help to prepare these face to face meetings.
Many show websites offer press releases and send emails to convince potential visitors to come to the show. I think a selection of exhibitor products on the homepage would be a better enticement for a visitor to book a ticket.
Also, many show websites offer an alphabetical exhibitor list. I think exhibitors should be ordered based on the visitors’ interests and not based on the position of their name in alphabetical order.
We should enhance the exposure of our exhibitor’s products and services by giving them the best space on our websites, for example creating image galleries on the homepage. This can also be achieved through an interactive directory or social media.
From the visitor’s point of view, we should use our exhibitor’s products and services to give them valid reasons to visit our shows and to give them what they need to prepare before they come to the show and what can’t be done online: setting up a face to face meeting at the show!
Barry: How does an organizer develop an online presence in a marketplace as vast as Asia?
Matthias: It’s now been a couple of years since I started working with the Asian market. I think in general we can learn a lot from Asia – even when it comes to “Online”. I’m always impressed by the speed and enthusiasm I see in the online world in Asia. Alibaba and Global Sources are just two examples of how successful an Asian online business model can be. The typically “can do” mentality in Asia is something very inspiring.
When it comes to an online presence, this means that we need to combine a well defined long term strategy with fast moving online development. At Reed, we have developed our own website platform with functionalities such as directories, match-making, portals and much more. Our platform can serve all kind of languages including the most important Asian languages. Whilst we are rolling out this platform on a global basis, we never stop developing new functionalities. For us, online is an ongoing task that never stops being challenging.
You can see the entire program at http://shenzhen2012.ufi.evenium.com.