Launching on foreign shores

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Putting on a show in the UK can provide a wealth of operational and logistical challenges, on top of choosing the right venue, suppliers and even date. So it’s not surprising that organisers who branch out overseas to launch an event are facing even bigger hurdles. “Launching overseas events is always going to be challenging,” said Media 10 CEO Lee Newton. “There is a massive list of obstacles that make it far more difficult to plan; from different customs, security and shipping regulations, language barriers and lack of proximity to the venue and your target market.” In order to overcome those hurdles, Paul Dunne CEO of YourTech Media, told EN: “You have to conceptually be ahead of the curve in what events look like. In order to break the mould you have to be pioneering and know your product well enough to sell it.” It’s all an education process, said Dunne as he launches a new technology event in South Africa in the autumn focusing on technology and gadgets. Set to be the first in a series of such events aimed at the African consumer electronics market, YourTechLive will combine trade and consumer days, and look at the development of business partnerships and supply chains needed to help business as well as develop brand and product exposure to the consumer. It is scheduled to run on 21-23 November 2014 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. Entering the market Dunne believes that the time is right for a concept of this nature to enter the African business arena. “We have been looking at Africa as a continent as a whole because of the huge commercial potential for exhibitions in the commercial field. We’ve discovered a growth in the middle class sector in Africa as a continent that will outstrip the likes of India by 2016.” As well as launching brand new concept shows, Essex-based organiser Media 10 has built on its existing event portfolio launching overseas editions. Running events for more than 10 years, the organiser counts the likes of Ideal Home Show, 100% Design and Grand Designs Live under its ever increasing belt. More recently, the organiser has branched out further and held Design Shanghai in February, which attracted more than 47,000 visitors to its first show. “Since 2009 we have been running Grand Designs Live events overseas; one show at the Coca Cola Dome in South Africa in May; one show at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre and one show at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre in Australia,” he added. These shows regularly attract 25-30,000 visitors each. “When we first launched in South Africa we felt that certain destinations would be receptive to our style of events; places where there was an affluent market of people who regularly attended shows. Hence we then took the brand to two destinations in Australia.” This year the organiser has launched international event Destination Star Trek Germany in February. “Our success in running these shows has shown how easy it is for us to take a winning formula and apply it to an overseas audience,” said Newton. Similarly, Diversified Business Communications UK has built on its existing niche markets with new launches in Scandinavia and Hong Kong, and last year won Exhibition News’ Best International Launch with Natural Products Scandinavia. Its Nordic Organic Food Fair has been shortlisted for Best International Launch at this year’s awards. Zoe Jackson-Cooper, event manager at Diversified said the concept of the shows overseas arose when exhibitors and visitors to the Natural & Organic Products Europe Show in London complained that a dedicated trade show for the sector was missing in the Scandinavian countries, despite the Nordic region’s strong tradition and reputation in natural health, sustainability and organic food production. “As organisers of Natural & Organic Products Europe, we understand the sector well and the concept was to develop the model to meet the specific needs of the Scandinavian market,” said Jackson-Cooper. Extending the London Vet Show portfolio, CloserStill Media launched an edition in France in 2013. “Knowing the success of the UK event we brought in an external commercial research organisation to look at where we could best replicate the event model internationally,” said CloserStill Media director Phil Nelson. “France was an obvious choice. Similar in size to the UK market in terms of vet numbers and pet numbers, similar regulatory environment for vets and similar event landscape with the dominant event being run by the main professional body.” The organiser has also launched Cloud Expo Asia 2013. Research and development One of the main challenges an organiser faces can be deciding where to locate. Certainly this was the case for Diversified. “Being a Nordic show meant that we were covering 4 different regions, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Norway,” said Jackson-Cooper. “In 2011, we spent many months researching the idea of launching a dedicated trade event, including surveys of potential exhibitors, conversations with buyers and manufacturers and consultation with the relevant trade association and the result of this is the launch of Natural Products Scandinavia.” For Design Shanghai, Media 10 said the team had five years of planning. “Two years ago Media 10 was finally in a position to assemble a team of experts and partners both in the UK and Asia to realise this goal,” said Newton. “Not many people know this but over the first few years, while the concept was evolving, our sales director Mike Dynan and I would visit Shanghai a few times a year, for ten days at a time to walk the streets, immersing ourselves in the under-belly of the city.” Newton said they believe that you need to fully understand the local complexities as well as the core research. While they ‘donned their sensible shoes’, more traditional research was undertaken including analysis of competitive events including Beijing Design Week and the International Furniture Fair. “This showed us that many European high end design brands were not represented well within the existing event structure,” he added. YourTech Media’s Dunne says his process comprised three phases. “Before anything even came about, I looked into generic reports from reputable sources into different countries to see what was happening out there. The findings confirmed that the market is ripe for innovation and disruption of the current status quo. “It was found that Africa was rising, but I questioned what that meant. So I came up with a sketch and phoned key exhibition organisers and stakeholders, and doorstepped people to get feedback. The third stage was actually going to Africa. I engaged face-to-face with potential exhibitors and distributors already with a presence in Africa and planted a seed of an idea. I allowed them to challenge or break my concept so that I could fill the holes and broadly get it into a place I want it to be,” said Dunne. In January 2013, CloserStill Media opened offices in Singapore with the sole purpose of launching Cloud Expo Asia 2013. “After extensive independent research, CloserStill Media identified which products would work best internationally and where there were gaps in the market,” said Sophie Baker, marketing manager at CloserStill Media. The inaugural show attracted 5,053 visitors. Facing up to the challenges Our biggest challenge by far is always in getting the same quality of event that you would get from working with your core suppliers, our established contacts understand what a Media 10 event represents and when you suddenly work with new contractors, they don’t always have the same high expectations,” said Newton. “For Design Shanghai we also found that the massive counterfeit industry was a challenge to overcome as brands are insecure about taking their high-end brands across to China.” Similarly, Dunne pointed out fears of exhibitors when it came to showcasing in Africa. “In the research phase we got some really interesting feedback. People exercised their interest in the show but Africa’s reputation played a part in some holding back.” Diversified highlighted language as an obvious barrier when launching overseas. “The Scandinavian region covers five main countries: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, with a total population of 25million. Each of the countries have a different native language, which meant launching a show that appealed to each region, involved producing all sales and marketing collateral in each language.” Each piece had to be carefully timed, translated, designed and delivered direct to the relevant individual – all of course with a targeted message, she said. “In 2013 we launched Nordic Organic Food Fair to run alongside Natural Products Scandinavia as a separate show but this meant that we then had to run a marketing campaign on two shows, with a separate event website for each (with translations) then with an exhibitor and visitor campaign for both shows – again in five different languages. Bright Future Challenges there may be, but they don’t seem to faze these organisers. If anything, the impression is that the overseas shows create interest to a wider audience on an international level and has increased the profile of their UK shows. “It has certainly strengthened the whole Diversified Natural Products portfolio across the world, including the existing London show which is now in its 18th year, with Natural Products Scandinavia now in its third year and the new Asia launch this August,” said Jackson-Cooper. Despite initial hiccups, YourTech Media’s business plan for the next three to four years is to replicate the event and launch an edition in Kenya in 2016 and then Nigeria in 2017. “In five years time we hope to be looking at five events in the portfolio, potentially in Ethiopia, Morocco and Egypt,” said Dunne. CloserStill Media has said for 2014 Cloud Expo Asia has doubled the size of the exhibition tenancy space. “We anticipate attracting over 200 exhibitors and increasing the footfall by at least 50 per cent,” said Baker. “For 2015, we have forecast to double the show revenues again.” With its international shows included, Media 10 is hoping to attract more than one million visitors across the world this year. “Our overseas shows have been enormously successful,” said Newton. “Now we have made our first success in China, we also hope this will continue. For our entertainment portfolio the natural next steps for us are the US and Oceania. “Media 10 are in a number of exciting discussions about new territories for our portfolio of events and we are never ones to turn down a good opportunity.” Image: Natural Products Scandinavia. This was first published in the April issue of EN. Any comments? Email exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
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