Some UK buyers have criticised the hosted buyer model as they want more time on the show floor. Do you think changes to the programme are necessary?
The hosted buyer programme is carefully tailored. In exchange for being hosted, we arrange eight meetings for buyers per day, which accounts for around 50% of their time at the show. We’ve actually found that many hosted buyers add additional meetings to their schedules, with an average of 14 a day. However, we do take into account feedback. For example, this year the association buyers have been given more flexible options on their time, following feedback from 2014.
For the first time this year, we’ve started a new, non-sponsored ‘matchmaking’ approach’ with corporate planners. We find out information on the next three meetings they are planning to run and match them with exhibitors who may be able to deliver what they need. We want to ensure both buyers and exhibitors remain satisfied, so it’s a question of balancing what each party is looking for from the meetings and delivering accordingly.
What else is new this year? How are you adapting to meet the needs of the audience?
In addition to changes to the matchmaking programme, we’ve revamped the education sessions, providing a dedicated learning environment, the Knowledge Village. Instead of the old meetings set-up, we’ve invested in an educational environment to provide a better experience for all visitors. We designed the rooms to encourage interactive sessions, for example the think tank has lots of boards and bean bags so people can be comfortable and move around, which is proving successful. Meanwhile, we’re continually analysing the needs of everyone who’s coming to the show. We look at where buyers are coming from, what they’re looking for and who would be key for them to meet. We analyse the demographics, too, such as gender, region and type of business, to ensure we’re bettering the quality of interaction for the future.
How has ibtm world changed? How will it look in five years?
The trade show model itself hasn’t really changed that much. What’s changed is technology and the ability to acquire information instantly. Every day, the information available to us is doubling, but in some ways it makes it harder to filter what we need. It’s almost a ‘fog of information’. Ten years ago people might have been shunning face-to-face interaction in favour of the internet, but now there’s so much to sift through, we need that interaction back. Over the next five years we’re likely to see a steady increase in ‘personalisation’, not just in terms of the number of meetings, but in terms of the quality of interaction. Technology will enable us to further analyse the details of the people coming to the show year-on-year, so we’re able to continually improve matches. For example, a 23-year-old woman from the UK in her second job will need completely different show information than a 45-year-old European man who’s been in the industry for years.
You’ve announced that the show will stay in Barcelona. Why have you chosen the city?
We looked at other options around Europe. All the key cities, plus a few other emerging destinations. We looked at timing, hotel accommodation, access to the city and airport – about 12 different criteria in total. After careful analysis, we found that Barcelona was the best choice for the show. In addition to a wide range of accommodation, great partnerships and venues, Barcelona has good wi-fi connectivity in its convention centre, excellent transport links and wonderful food, culture and nightlife.
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