For our Q&A series, Ask the Experts, we asked our event planner clients to share their priorities, areas of interest and biggest questions. To find the answers, we're talking to the top minds in the industry, including bloggers, planners, editors, marketers, consultants and event industry influencers.
Stephanie Selesnick is President of International Trade Information, Inc. and founder of #Expochat, a tweet chat on trade show industry topics. Through her vast experience as an event industry speaker and trainer, she shares information and insights around the trade show industry in particular, and the events industry in general.
How do you see the industry changing and what are the top 3 factors that will continue to change it, outside of economy and technology?
I recently discussed six global trends we as an industry are seeing at the EEAA Leaders Forum and Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Three of them are Customer-Centricity, Festivalization (Consumerism in the US) and the rise of the Hosted Buyer/Trade Show Hybrid.
Customer-Centric isn’t just about focusing on the attendee. We are doing a huge disservice by not also focusing efforts on our other big clients – exhibitors! Exhibitors give expos a -17 NPS (net promoter score) - the same as banks! That’s not good. Only one quarter of exhibitors give expos a positive NPS.
So how can we improve both exhibitors and attendees ROT (return on time), ROO (return on objective) and ROI (return on investment)? What can we do to streamline our exhibition production processes to focus on the clients and not on making our own jobs easier? I’d also lump both attendee and exhibitor education into this one. Can we better teach our attendees how to be successful on the show floor? It’s not necessarily an intuitive thing. And studies prove exhibitor retention and satisfaction are directly related to education pre-event (not the day before!).
Second is Festivalization (Consumerism) – what I call, “bringing the ‘show’ back to ‘show biz’”. Understand that you are catering to more than one generation and it’s okay for their journeys at your event to be different. With business to business events, first we have to deliver the business, then we can and should deliver the fun, games and pizazz.
Last is the rise of the Hosted Buyer/Trade Show Hybrid. It’s a great model – exhibitors know they will have preset appointments with potential clients before the exhibition begins, plus you get the normal expo serendipity of people walking down the aisles. By hosting buyers, you bring in guaranteed, qualified visitors. As matchmaking technology improves and becomes cheaper, it’ll only enhance the experience for everyone.
For event professionals who have been in the industry over 20 years, how do you keep on top of the latest trends?
As one of “those”, I read a lot – in print, online, and through social media recommendations. I also regularly attend a variety of industry events: local, national, and international; and of course, talk to friends and colleagues in the industry. I recommend IAEE - particularly local chapters, which are more affordable than the annual convention/trade show, SISO if you’re in the For-Profit world (CEO and/or Leadership Conference) and of course, around the world, any UFI event.
My advice on the inundation of information out there? Stay focused and try not to go down too many rabbit holes.
What do you think is more important to attendees – content, connection or creativity?
Yes, to the three in equal parts. They are interdependent! Attendees want to learn. They want solutions to their pain points. They want to know the trends in their industries. Content provides that. They also want to connect with old friends and colleagues as well as meet new people. Creativity is equally important as the other two. Without creativity, how will you better deliver experiences to your stakeholders year after year? Certainly not by doing the same old thing, different day! Reward - don’t stifle the creativity on your teams.
Finding and forming relationships with government entities, trade commissions, associations and foreign press are some of the elements that go into investing in expanding the international component of a trade show.
Stephanie Selesnick, CEM, President of International Trade Information, Inc. works with US-based exhibition organizers to bring in more international exhibitors or take their shows offshore. ITI has worked with clients in a variety of different industries to successfully increase their international representation including: agricultural, apparel, consumer electronics, energy, financial, food and beverage, high tech construction, baby, juvenile & maternity, renewables, shoe, and travel industries. She also represents SNIEC – The Shanghai New International Expo Centre, one of the largest, most successful convention centers in the world.
A former show organizer, Stephanie is the blogger for Trade Show Executive, UFI, the Global Association for the Exhibition Industry, founder of #Expochat, a Tweet chat, The Exhibitionists podcaster with Antony Reeve-Crook (available on apple play, Stitcher, Spotify) and is a frequent speaker on the subject of internationalizing exhibitions all over the globe.
Reach Stephanie at: email@example.com; @stephselesnick on social media.
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