Back to normal?
In 2020 and 2021 poultry trade fairs were cancelled and postponed. VIV MEA 2021 was the first post-pandemic event but in many regions, problems continued last year. 2023 is the first disruption-free year meaning organisers and exhibitors can plan with confidence.
With VIV MEA 2023 just around the corner, now is a good time to assess whether exhibitions still have the same importance or if exhibitors and visitors alike are looking for a new way of doing business. ShowCo members shared their thoughts on how the pandemic has affected event planning.
When things began to open up after the pandemic, there was pent-up demand for events within the industry. Exhibitors had rolled over payments from postponed events and were willing to invest more because they were keen to meet with customers. We are at the tail-end of the post-pandemic surge in enthusiasm and companies are shifting to a more analytical approach to events to ensure they give a return on investment.
Despite bullish statements from the events industry, some in ShowCo are more reserved in their judgement. The impression is that the excitement didn’t translate into lots of sales, but with two major shows on the horizon, VIV MEA in November 2023 and IPPE in January 2024, members are waiting a little longer before drawing any final conclusions.
Making global events work
ShowCo focuses on attending global/international exhibitions. The number of potential customers is huge but so is competition for their attention. Following the explosion in digital communication tools, every head of marketing has to ask the question can I reach more people using digital communication? What opportunities would we miss by going down this route?
ShowCo as the name suggests believes in trade shows. We think they provide a great opportunity for face-to-face meetings that can develop existing relationships. But a lot of the relationship building starts before the show, potential customers need to be seeking out your exhibit.
This is the real challenge, making sure events serve the overall marketing plan. The pandemic hasn’t changed this, but it has probably shown the potential of some alternatives and exhibitors to expect more measurable outputs from events.
There are also cultural differences, some markets are keener than others for face-to-face engagement. According to some members the Latin American market and Spain favour events with social interaction between company and potential customers. Other markets have been more willing for interaction to shift online. Once again, the question to ask is where an event fits into the sales process.
The other consideration is that face-to-face doesn’t necessarily mean events. Some members report that local dealers and agents are the key contact for sales with the direct participation of headquarters less important than in the past.
Some ShowCo members also recognise that event attendance is neither practical nor the preferred option for some potential customers. Alternatives like company visits are a way to get face-to-face contact without relying on a show.
For ShowCo these challenges are not new or unusual, the pandemic has brought into focus many of the things ShowCo was concerned about at its founding two decades ago. How to make trade fairs work for exhibitors and customers without becoming a huge drain on marketing budgets.
The answer now is the same as then: improve the quality of events by focusing on a small number of high-quality events targeted at the relevant audience. Most important of all, visitors and exhibitors should have a compelling reason why they are attending the event.
After the pandemic, the compelling reason was ‘because we can’ but that doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. For future events the compelling reason has to be related to business needs, then we will most likely see good commercial outcomes from poultry trade fairs.
ShowCo enables this by working with all its members to improve the quality of trade shows. Members can discuss their experiences and every event is carefully assessed before and after to help us achieve more.
Find out who will be at VIV MEA 2023