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October 5, 2009

Inside the Global Event Summit

As the exhibition industry adapts to an altered economic landscape, organisers are impatient to step up their commercial activity and move into new markets. This was one of the trends that emerged from a series of  ‘unconference’ discussions, held as part of the Global Event Summit on 1-3 September at The Grove in Hertfordshire, just north of London.

Attended by over a hundred board-level executives from many of the world’s most prominent exhibition organising companies and venues, the Global Event Summit was designed to stimulate global mergers and acquisitions, partnerships and geo-cloning activities.

Upbeat mood
Using voting keypads to indicate their commercial plans, 22% of those present said they expected to sell an exhibition event during the next 24 months. At the same time, 41% expected to buy an exhibition or event in the same period.

Meanwhile, 69% of those present were expecting to launch an exhibition in the next 24 months and 72% were planning to launch events in new geographical territories. India, China and Brazil were cited as the top emerging destinations.

Commenting on the overall mood of the Global Event Summit, event organiser Trevor Foley said: “The atmosphere was very upbeat. While statements about economic recovery are still cautious, there was a very real sense that the time for stagnation and inactivity is over. People are impatient now to move forward.”

Moving forward
Sidestepping the traditional presentation and speaker model, the unconference format, facilitated by audience engagement specialist Crystal Interactive, gave delegates equal opportunities to speak and exchange information on collectively selected topics, exploring the next chapter for event industry globalisation.

Delegates elected to hold discussions around the three of the strongest themes that had emerged from the question: What are the barriers to achieving the next level of globalisation? 

The themes identified were:
– Managing cultural differences when doing business internationally
– Developing and retaining staff and management teams of the right quality (together with a discussion of whether to source local staff or ‘parachute-in’ expats)
– Managing the visitor and exhibitor experience when venue, infrastructure and service quality vary so greatly across the globe

Merging boundaries
There were further signs of the blurring of demarcation lines between organisers and venues, as more exhibition venues said they were considering launching their own events to fill unbooked space. 

Commenting on this trend Alastair Gornall, chief executive of Reed Exhibitions UK, said: “In many markets, there is an over capacity of exhibition space, and clearly the halls won’t all sit back and leave it empty.”

“I anticipate that in the next 24 months, some halls, both here and elsewhere in the world, will launch more of their own shows, and some of them could easily be in competition with existing business – which will not be helpful.”



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