I certainly expected to hear some opposing voices in response to my Oct. 19 post remarking that forces at play in the world are likely to cause at least a stutter for the global exhibitions industry.
Some of those who wrote quite reasonable responses not only have every right to object to my view, but almost a responsibility to signal to their clients, “Don’t worry, everything’s fine.”
However, even those of us who live within the cocoon of American culture cannot ignore the reality that, all over the world, nationalism is on the rise and free trade has become one of its adherents’ easiest targets. We see it here as the U.S. presidential election campaign staggers to an end.
So, those who are most entrenched in the international exhibitions industry, as they gather next week for the UFI Global Congress in Shanghai, can’t take much comfort in the recently released American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast citing “political and economic uncertainty coupled with safety concerns in some countries.” The report from one company that has something to lose as a result admits, “we are seeing some hesitancy in our industry.”
The report, though, goes beyond the current international political and economic climate to cite three factors that could have a longer, more serious impact on the global meetings industry:
- Hotel consolidation
- Security and safety concerns
- Confusion about the proliferation of event technology
All of which the beleaguered international event organizer has little or no control over.
There are a couple of things you can control, like that growing proliferation of technology. Organizers are starting to take advantage of data accumulation and analysis tools to better identify the needs of potential attendees and then share that information with exhibitors.
There is no reason to assume traditional marketplaces will remain static as the forces American Express suggests come into play. Instead, you can probably expect them to disrupt the conventional patterns of buyer-seller interactions. However, armed with real information, regardless of where you are, you can communicate the value of your event and the urgency with which potential attendees and exhibitors should approach it.
Michael Hart is a business consultant and writer who focuses on the events industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hart will moderate a webinar Nov. 30 for association executives entitled, “4 Easy Ways to Generate Non-Dues Revenue.”No Fields Found.