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Data for exhibitions

Read the data before the writing on the wall


Originally created for Exhibition News January 2019. 

Our industry has witnessed some high-profile show collapses in recent months. Deutsche Messe’s Cebit, Baselworld, Zalando’s Bread & Butter and Emerald Exhibitions’ Interbike are among the largest. But while social media is aflame with debate on alleged failure to adapt to the market or mismanagement, we’ve been considering the role of technology in identifying the red flags that precede an event’s decline.

And more to the point, can event technology go a stage further and help improve things for organisers? Some of these shows stopped performing because they were no longer catering to the individual needs of specific visitors. Measuring this and acting on it is something that you can’t do without technology.

Of these four events, Cebit drew perhaps the greatest gasps. Just 120,00 attended its 2018 edition, down from the million or so who walked the show floor in its heyday, and like Baselworld, resulted in the departure of the event’s chief executive. A staff memo reportedly claimed pre-bookings for the 2019 edition indicated the show would drift into losses, and management reacted in order to maintain the company’s economic stability.

“It is now time to integrate the topics from Cebit that are relevant for manufacturing, energy and logistics into Hannover Messe,” Deutsche Messe CEO Dr Jochen Köckler claimed in a statement.

The question remains, will the integration of this show into another of the organiser’s flagship events be the correct course of action, and how did Deutsche Messe arrive at that conclusion?

Counter the incoming blow, don’t just avoid it

Don’t mistake whim and guesswork for enterprise and diligence. Modern exhibition management decisions can be made after analysing data not anecdotes. Good software partners will be more than your ear to the ground. By categorising the various elements that comprise your show, you will know where decline is reversible, who your new audience should be, where it is heading and where your losses should be cut. Data and AI algorithms now lets you discern your audience’s desires before they even express them.

Use software tools to assess the seniority of your visitors, how they are interacting with your exhibitors, and look at the product categories that get the most traction. If the wrong people are attending, and they are struggling to have effective meetings with your exhibitors, then leads are unlikely to follow. If the products are changing from those that used to be present on the show floor, then perhaps your show itself needs to be repositioned. Keeping the narrative going, and spinning what you have into new smaller events, may be preferable to rolling what you have into an existing event.

Well-established exhibitions decline when the organiser is either unable or unwilling to cater towards the needs of their exhibitors and visitors. Those unable are typically faced with one of two problems. They either don’t understand their stakeholders because they don’t have the right tools and processes in place to glean this information, or, they are afraid of introducing major change to the event and have a bad situation get worse.

Finding the right tools is a case of finding the right digital partners who will analyse your event process with you, set up the right data capture, and help you derive the right metrics. This, in turn, will make the decision-making process easier, and less risky, by removing much of the guesswork.
By looking at the data your software partner can provide you could spot shifts in interest and behaviour of your exhibitors and visitors long before you have to face the music. Indeed, a good software partner can provide you with the wall on which to read the writing.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Contact the team today or catch us on Twitter!


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