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Should organisers brace for more Covid pain?

We’ve witnessed a week that industry trends were put under the spotlight in major stories – a celebration of physical exhibitions announced, the importance of technology in facilitating that, omnichannel optimism for Hyve and fears over coronavirus restrictions resurface.

Here’s everything you’ll find in this latest edition of the Week in Events:

  • Exhibition celebration highlights industry role
  • How Smart Events make you money
  • Event organisers brace for another Covid wave
  • Omnichannel optimism for Hyve
  • London Book Fair marks major in-person return

Exhibition celebration highlights industry role

A global day of celebrations for the exhibition industry highlights the important role it plays in economic recovery, according to UFI.

Organisers and associations have managed to quickly bring live events back with similar or higher levels of attendance compared with those before the pandemic.

Global Exhibitions Day (Ged) brings together major players in our industry to advocate for the value of physical and face-to-face business events for driving the global economy. 

Monica Lee-Müller, UFI president, said: “Ged puts the spotlight on the exhibitions industry. It is a recognition and a celebration of this spirit of innovation and resilience in the industry, and everyone is welcomed to join – working together to showcase who we are as an industry and what vital role we play.”

World-leading exhibition organisers have joined the association in highlighting the vital role of our industry – including Clarion Events, Comexposium, Diversified Communications, Emerald, Informa Markets, RX  and Tarsus.

The seventh annual Ged will take place on June 1 with a focus on the “irreplaceable value” of physical shows and face-to-face business events in creating platforms for economic growth and recovery. It will also be an occasion to network and meet other people.

This day of advocacy is supported by more than 40 national and international industry associations.

Charlie McCurdy, CEO of Informa Markets, said: “The spirit of connection and collaboration are at the heart of our industry’s purpose – when people come together to achieve common goals, they thrive. Our platforms help communities grow together through relationship building, innovation, discovery, and business opportunity.

Over the last few years, we have united as an industry to bring safe, successful events back to life.  We’re once again celebrating the magic of face-to-face connection, and creating a sustainable future, together.”

Hugh Jones, CEO of RX, added: “Nothing speaks of the power of face-to-face events to drive business recovery, growth and innovation, as the sight of customers streaming back through our show doors. But in these fractured times, our events also celebrate the importance of community, of coming-together, of shared experiences where everyone is made to feel welcome.”

How Smart Events make you money

Our industry has undergone a massive digital transformation which means there are far more opportunities to enhance the value of events for all participants.

We estimate there is now 20 times the amount of data available which can be used to improve offerings, streamline services and create highly personalised experiences.

Smart Events have emerged as the format to do this, but many planners are still unsure how they can make the most of the opportunities now available.

That’s why ExpoPlatform has just launched its Smart Event Showcase Series to explain how our solutions can improve your business with this model.

The first session was about How Smart Events Make You Money and explains how organisers can create different tiers of packages, as well as how they upsell digital solutions. Watch it here.

This format also helps planners to futureproof their business by widening the scope of their revenue potential. In-person is back and coming back strong, however, things have changed and the smart planner will recognise that.

Luke said: “The overall context for why revenue diversification is important should be familiar to everyone after the last couple of years that we’ve had. AMR’s top 20 list over from 2019 to 2020 shows the top organisers lost around 70% of revenues in that first year of the pandemic.

“Covid-19 levels in the UK right now are as high as they’ve ever been, but it’s a fairly mild version of it and restrictions have all been lifted. That’s not the case in other parts of the world like China.  Sustainability is going to increasingly be an issue – and there is an awful war happening 1,000 miles to my east.

“There’s all sorts of reasons why in-person events are going to have to be able to stay agile, have to diversify their revenue stream. The move to digital revenues and the importance of digital revenues is not going anywhere.”

An AMR study predicts digital revenue for an organiser is due to go from 2% of their total in 2019 to 25% moving forward.

But this change means an organiser’s customers are getting more from an event and pricing should reflect what’s now being offered.

Luke added: “That’s a real shift and I certainly believe that all teams in all industries need to find a way to make this digital transition. There’s been so much disruption – everything has had to chop and change.

“If you’re relaunching your in-person events as a Smart Events with new bells and whistles – not just booking a stand anymore, you’re also going to get leads retrieval, ROI dashboarding, a year-round marketplace -present all of that as a complete step-change in what came before and make a break from those legacy price points.”

Event organisers brace for another Covid wave

Organisers must prepare for a future where there will “always be some level of Covid-19 risk with an event”, according to an expert.

Those are the thoughts of Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who explained a newer strain of coronavirus is much more transmissible and significantly cuts the chances of zero-risk productions.

It has been warned that organisers must now prepare for another wave of uncertainty as this variant spreads.

He told EventMB that planners would now start considering building in plans to combat this new reality much further into the future than hoped.

Amesh said: “More risk-averse event organisers may shift things outdoors, but the point is that this is never going to end. There will always be some level of Covid risk with an event – even 50 years into the future – because the virus will not be eliminated or eradicated.

“The goal is to make it more manageable – and that’s what vaccination, antivirals, and monoclonal antibodies do.” 

Omnichannel optimism for Hyve

Major organiser Hyve has taken another big move towards an omnichannel future through the acquisition of a leading US financial technology event.

Fintech Meetup has facilitated over 250,000 meetings requests to meet and 50,000 virtual meetings since its launch last year, with founders “now excited to launch in-person” shows from March 2023.

It is the brainchild of fintech industry insiders Anil Aggarwal and Simran Rekhi Aggarwal, who also created the online networking platform Retail Meetup which Hyve acquired in December 2020.

Hyve CEO Mark Shashoua said: “The addition of Fintech Meetup to our group delivers on Hyve’s goal to acquire market-leading events in large industries that are undergoing dramatic, decades-long, technology-driven changes.

“In a short space of time, Fintech Meetup has delivered significant value to thousands of individuals and organisations across the industry and established itself as a leading hub of the sector.

“It holds tremendous potential for short- and long-term growth, especially with its first in-person event scheduled to take place in just 12 months.” 

This comes as  McKinsey & Co study found that 94% of B2B customers now find an omnichannel sales approach at least as effective as the more traditional model, compared with 65% in April 2020.

Hyve claimed in its trading update that it  has continued to execute its omnichannel strategy through the rollout of facilitated meetings across key in-person events and the delivery of online networking programmes.

The group announced in March the board had made the decision to formally exit the Russian market due to Putin’s war on Ukraine.

London Book Fair marks major in-person return

Around 15,000 visitors attended London Book Fair as it marked a major return to in-person, according to reports.

The annual event also saw about 850 exhibitors packed into Olympia London for the global marketplace for story creators.

It is the first time the show has been able to take place in person since 2019, due to coronavirus restrictions, and was helped to be delivered by ExpoPlatform.

Exhibition News reported these figures and how it was described as the “best ever” outing for London Book Fair by a representative at Heron Publishing.

Show director Andy Ventris told the publication: ”This is the first face-to-face edition of The London Book Fair since 2019. The publishing industry has done some great things in the last three years, but it hasn’t met like this.

“More than 15,000 people from 70-plus countries, 850 exhibiting companies from all sectors of the industry, over 100 seminars covering the key issues in the industry today and so many highlights.”

Highlights of the RX-owned show – held between April 5 and 7 -included talks from authors Maggie O’Farrell, Greg James and Chris Smith, Afra Atiq and illustrator Diane Ewen. Booker prize-winning Ben Okri gave the keynote speech.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful. At ExpoPlatform, we want to help you build better events and communities. Please get in touch and ask for a demo here. Thank you.