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April 28, 2006

A world of difference

The world economy is going through a period of major change with a number of countries involved in making the transition from developing to developed nations. Increased political stability is encouraging investment from the West, while the relaxing of global trade barriers is allowing these countries to compete on an equal footing with the developed nations. Four countries in particular are leading the way: Brazil, Russia, India and China. Known as the BRIC economies in business circles, these countries are harnessing the power of events to generate revenue, first for their home-grown companies, and second for the economy overall in promoting themselves as conference and exhibition destinations. The result is a growing events industry.

Statistics from AUMA, the German trade fair association, provide a good idea of the level of growth in Russia, for example. The number of trade fairs conducted by German trade fair organisers in the country increased by a quarter to 25 between 2003 and 2005 alone. A further three events are planned for 2006. These events account for almost 15% of the exhibitors and visitors at all German foreign trade fairs. Russia is, therefore, the second most important target region for German trade fair organisers after China. The engagement of German exhibitors in Russia has also grown strongly. The number of events attracting German exhibitors rose from 26 in 2000 to 43 last year. What's more, the number of German exhibitors increased by 60% from 2000 to 2004 to more than 1,200.

"Exhibitions provide a terrific opportunity to present your product and services face to face. They are one of the most powerful marketing and communication tools," asserts Elena Slomchinskaya, Exhibition Director at Expocentr, the largest organiser of international and foreign trade fairs in Russia. In fact, she is so enthusiastic about the medium that she also gives an unusual physiological reason why event marketing is so effective. "Events are all about using your senses to communicate properly," she continues. "The ultimate face-to-face communication stimulates two important neurotransmitters, which enhance pleasure and serotonin to reduce worry."

If this is the case, then marketers in Asia over the recent years have certainly been having a more pleasurable time with far less to worry about. During 2004, 8.1 million square metres of tradeshow space was sold by event organisers to their clients in that continent. Over 40% of this was sold in China and 25% in Japan, according to research by Business Strategies Group, which produced the first comprehensive study of Asia's exhibition industry last year for UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry. Among the 1,750 events held, which was an increase of 5.7% on the previous year, 59% took place in those two countries. The study also revealed healthy forecasts for 2005. "We believe that the exhibition industry will grow by around 18-20% in Asia in 2005," it predicted, "with the strongest growth still in China."

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