With the evolution of exhibition formats, markets are expanding, shifting in such a way that our businesses are continuously presented with new revenue sources. Much of this comes from the digitisation of exhibition businesses. Exhibitions co-exist with online counterparts and therein lies a great deal of potential revenue, be it derived from the collection and exchange of data, dissemination of content or good ol’ fashion sponsorship and advertising.

As anyone on their way to Johannesburg this week will know, Raising The Odds is the theme of this year’s UFI Global Congress. The congress, now in its 84th edition, has been conceived to help delegates increase the chance of achieving their goals and the goals of their clients.

Opportunities arise from market pressures and in catering for the increasing demands of our audiences, we also encounter new ways in which to boost revenue. This is a concept encapsulated in UFI’s secondary catchline for this year’s congress: ‘Pressures and profits in the exhibition industry’.

In some instances the reverse can be true; and the most skilful organiser and show directors can induce their audiences to engage in new digital practices,  giving the organiser access to new revenue streams while improving the overall visitor and exhibitor experience.

For example, in applying Feathr’s technology solutions to one of SME’s (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) largest events, the US East Coast manufacturing event Eastec, the association’s digital marketing specialist Amanda Krigner says she reached new audience segments that had never attended Eastec – its key objective for that year’s event.

“We decided that investing in new technology was the best way to transition our audience toward digital. As we listened to the Feathr demo, bells started going off in our heads,” she said.

Successful visitor experience is defined by so many factors that it’s hard to keep track of where this new money is coming from and as a result; where investment is prudent. New opportunities arise as much from the qualitative experience as they do with quantifiable factors such as attendance and matchmaking.

In an interview earlier this year, Freeman executive VP and chief marketing officer Chris Cavanaugh told me the role that brand experience plays in the context of business events continues to increase in scope and importance, as audience expectations evolve.

“Steep competition, changing demographics and more sophisticated audiences mean marketers need new approaches,” he explained. “The right brand experiences have the power to evolve brands, build relationships and inspire action.”

Partnerships with such firms of course lead the enrichment of the industry; the core reason the UFI Global Congress holds such value in the first place. The percentage of speakers and panellists from areas not previously associated with the industry is increasing, and our industry all the richer for it.

Let’s not forget, the exhibition industry is growing faster than the global economy, and there is much we can do to raise the odds of our success and continue this trend.

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