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March 17, 2015
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Convene 2015: Should All Regional Showcases Become NFPs?




The recent third edition of Convene in Vilnius, Lithuania, provided the gateway for 71 exhibiting venues and destinations from the Baltic Sea region with access to 160 hosted buyers, mostly from the rest of Europe.
 
3,525 pre-scheduled appointments were executed throughout the event which was preceded with a full day's education, the Professional Development Academy, before the main event provided further education throughout the two-day event for the hosted buyers. Among the 16 international speakers included SoolNua managing partner Patrick Delaney, Linda Pereira of CPL Meetings & Events, Johanna Fischer of tmf dialoguemarketing GmbH, and Paul Kennedy MBE (the former IBTM chief at Reed Travel Exhibitions) who has consulted on the development of Convene for the past three years.
 
All high-quality acts.
 
Fellow journalists in attendance, including associations specialist Marcel Vissers of Headquarters & MIM Magazine, noted that the public-private Not For Profit (NFP) partnership had kept participation costs down to just 1,800 euros per exhibitor (including a uniform 3x3-meter booth, power, and free Wi-Fi) and, in return, had delivered a 2.25:1 fully qualified hosted buyer to seller ratio. Further, the hosted buyers and attending media had been given exceptional experiences beyond the show floor by the organizing host, the Vilnius Convention Bureau, before dispersing on FAM trips across the region.
 

Vissers also saw a similar experience three weeks later in Johannesburg for Africa's meetings marketplace, Meetings Africa, organized by the South African National Convention Bureau, where a similar emphasis on customer experience on an NFP basis persisted. Again, participation costs were below the commercial average of privately owned exhibitions and trade fairs in the sector, all of which require the substantial investments in hosted buyers in order to remain competitive in the sector. Of course, private sector-owned events rightly require a commercial margin.
 
Not the case for Convene or Meetings Africa, where surpluses are ploughed back into additional hosted buyers or stand cost reductions and thus delivering even better value for the exhibitors while the motivation of the organizers is on promotion and not for profit.
 
So if these partnerships can deliver greater ratios of buyers to sellers at a time when so many venues and destinations are reeling from varying degrees of austerity, will more regional events in the sector be governed by the destination supply chains themselves while the private sector focus on delivering the global monoliths such as IMEX, IMEX America, and IBTM World?


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About the Author: James Latham

James Latham


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