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Innovation key to tackling drop in industry mood – UFI

Innovation in event services will be key to satisfying customers’ demand for more value in 2024 and beyond, according to a new UFI report.

Our latest Chart of the Month – using data from the global exhibition organiser’s association – reveals a drop in contentment for industry partners across a range of areas.

We deconstruct the reasoning behind this state of affairs using the context of wider trends in meetings and events. Read on to know more.

To get a bigger picture of how event tech services will influence the industry landscape, download the Event Tech Forecast 2024.

Demand for services stays strong – including event tech 💪

UFI’s latest Industry Partners Benchmark Survey edition reveals a consistently strong demand for event services.

Booth construction, marketing communication, logistics handling and staffing scored high on survey participants’ event needs.

Demand for event tech software also stayed robust as 64% of those polled said they were using it – but did show a dip from 67% in the last survey in 2021.

The survey was held from mid 2023 with the majority of respondents from Europe and Asia-Pacific.

chart of the month_feb

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Service demand rises: Event services remain popular as usage inches up.
  • Core needs still reign: Booths, staffing, and security top the service wishlist.
  • Messaging matters most: Clear communication and promotion are key to event success.
  • Digital fade-out: Focus on live events leads to less demand for digital services.

However, satisfaction levels regarding innovation in services is still an area the industry needs to work on 👇

Customers want more value through innovation as cost pressures rise 💸

According to the UFI report, fewer stakeholders are satisfied with the innovation by service providers.

chart of the month feb

Key takeaways:

  • Innovation gap widens: Clients are less impressed with service provider innovation compared to overall satisfaction. This gap is growing since the last survey.
  • Time to innovate: Service providers need to step up their innovation game, especially compared to communication and marketing providers who are seen as leaders (particularly by pure organisers).
  • Industry & region neutral: Innovation perceptions are similar across industries and regions.

The major reasons for this dissatisfaction are:

  1. Squeezing exhibition budgets and spiralling costs: The latest UFI Exhibition Barometer reveals the state of the economy in the home market is the top business concern globally, followed by global economic developments. Cost pressures have increased on customers who want more value for their investment.
  2. Demonstrating ROI: Exhibitors need to demonstrate ROI to stakeholders and higher-ups in their companies. More innovative services boost engagement, leading to greater brand engagement and leads.

This comes after Paul Miller, CEO of Questex, told ExpoPlatform that organisers would now have to battle for the attention of time-limited event leaders.

He said:  “You cannot expect executives and decision-makers to spend a week every month at an event.

“They’ve got other things to do with their lives and their jobs, so they’re going to start to narrow down to the must-go events.

“So how you set yourself apart – in my mind at least – is a whole combination of things.

“We would use data from the beginning – what content are people looking for? What content topics are surging  out there? Who are the key speakers? Who are the bloggers or the outside contributors to our platforms that get a good following, that get a great open rate?

“It’s about content relevance – that’s the first thing you have to do.

“If you’ve got content relevance and somebody’s been searching for a solution for six weeks and you say ‘we’ve got five experts talking about the solution in Las Vegas in six weeks’ time’ – often they’ll say ‘I’m coming, that’s a good use of my time’.”

The results corroborate findings in the latest Event Tech Forecast by ExpoPlatform, where 76% of those surveyed said achieving good exhibitor ROI was a key hurdle.

event tech forecast

Tips to enhance the value of tradeshows in 2024

Organisers need to communicate the value proposition of their events by showcasing the tangible benefits and business outcomes. Here are some tips to enhance the live experience:

  • Hyper-personalised experiences: Leverage data to curate content, networking opportunities and product recommendations.
  • Curated educational tracks: Offer specialised programmes based on attendee interests and roles.
  • Interactive demonstrations and workshops: Go beyond static booths with engaging formats for product interaction and learning.
  • Community building platforms: Facilitate pre-event networking, knowledge sharing and ongoing connections beyond the show.
  • Metrics-driven matchmaking: Use AI Matchmaking to connect attendees with exhibitors based on specific needs and goals.
  • Smart data collection and analysis: Gain insights into attendee behaviour and preferences to improve future events.
  • Offer data-driven ROI measurement tools: Help exhibitors track leads, engagement and sales generated. Explore Lead Retrieval solutions.
  • Implement sustainable practices: Minimise waste, source locally and offset carbon emissions to attract environmentally conscious attendees. Learn how.

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 😀