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.