Exploring the unknown

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Trade fair organisers and expo centres do not appear to be entirely up to the challenges presented by the changes in their industry. The decrease in the number of visitors, changing visitor behaviour and the rise of online platforms are important developments to which very few of them are able to respond. We at MOVE (Makers Of Virtual Events) have developed a complete programme to help event organisers go digital. Our mission is offering help, as preferred partner with a dedicated team of IT and event specialists, to fair organisers to create their own virtual platform. We slowly accompany them to the next level, step by step. A lot of organisers don’t have any idea of IT programmes or how they work, and that’s where we come in to work together behind the scenes, by creating an online platform and starting a revolution. Event organisers don’t need to deal with the headache of all the IT involved, they need to realise that the virtual event will add more value to their show, on their own URL while we are just in the background working on the digital version. However organisers seem to be afraid of the extra work they think they will face. It takes time as people fear moving and innovation. I think they have to leave their comforts and explore the unknown. In the end they will experience that in a couple of years, their virtual events could be bigger with more visitors and exhibitors than the physical events. As a fair organiser myself I believe in a combination of these two. I don’t believe in a physical event without the virtual platform. And I don’t believe in a virtual event without a physical platform - the future will mean a combination of both. In practice, the only thing organisers have to do is think about the features of the programme, new business models and marketing strategy in order to create new revenue streams. We do the rest. Trade fair organisers are sitting on a proverbial goldmine, only they have no idea how to reap the benefits. The valuable community that has taken years to build is not being utilised - we help them to unleash the potential of their community. Visitors to trade fairs won’t decrease with the introduction of virtual exhibitions - it’s an extra service. What we cannot develop is emotion however. Emotion is really experienced through visiting the show. That’s the only thing that we cannot translate. The average live event period is a couple of days compared to a virtual event where organisers can stay in contact with their community 24/7, the whole year through. Times have changed; people don’t have the time or money anymore to visit all fairs. People want to have certain information when it suits them. They might not be able to visit the fair but with a digital platform, they can still go to the event, at any time and place they choose. What organisers don’t realise is that an online visitor should be actually considered a real visitor. With a digital platform they can reach the whole world, provide exhibitors with new leads (and a higher return on investment) and prepare visitors by enabling them to discover brands before, during and after the show. As we’re speaking to around 100 well-known event organisers in the UK, Germany, Denmark, France and Holland, we’ve come to realise virtual events is a hot topic everywhere and high on the list of innovation, but a lot of them are struggling with understanding the idea of going digital. The know-how or budget to develop an online platform is lacking. After the presentation of our demo, organisers were very enthusiastic about our product, the added service and commercial value to their fair(s) and the latest tech we are using. These reactions prove to me that I made the right move, at the right time. I now dare to predict that in a few years time, all fairs will have an additional virtual platform besides the trade show to fulfill the need of the next generation. It’s just a matter of time.. Otherwise time can catch up with them and they could run out of their business. There are already events with an online platform and I strongly believe this will be the new standard. In the end, of course we want to make money but this is not our main goal. We want to help the event industry move forward and that’s why Marc and I called our company MOVE. Over the last years we saw that the role of live events is rapidly changing because of the Internet and also because of the new generation that’s coming. Event organisers have to innovate to survive and to fulfill the need of exhibitor’s and visitors. This is what some organisers don’t understand yet. Don’t fear moving, fear not moving.   This article was first published in the February issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
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