Winning back visitors or what trade fairs can learn from fishing

One of the most important challenges for a successful relaunch of the trade fair industry is winning back visitors. But the old familiar recipes such as attractive supporting programs, elaborate special shows and more self-marketing are reaching their limits. What's next?

One of the most important challenges for a successful relaunch of the trade fair industry is winning back visitors. But the old familiar recipes such as attractive supporting programs, elaborate special shows and more self-marketing are reaching their limits. Wouldn't it be more promising to use the concentrated power of exhibitors in visitor mobilization?

We are all looking forward to the new start of the trade show industry. However, this does not mean that everything will be the same as before the pandemic. Winning back visitors will be a key challenge, as Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO & Managing Director forecasts in his 5 Trends to watch for 2022.

In the past, attendance at trade shows was set for many visitors. Now this "habit" is working in the other direction: people have become accustomed to home offices and less travel and have found alternatives to get information. Many companies have also cut budgets for travel and event attendance. At the same time, many trade shows are smaller right now than they used to be, which creates additional challenges in visitor mobilization.


What organizers usually do

What do trade show organizers do when they are worried about visitor mobilization? They invest more in self-marketing, organize a larger supporting program and/or stage spectacular special zones. All these things cost a lot of money. But after the financial losses of the last two years, higher operating costs due to hygiene measures and often smaller trade shows, this is not really an option anymore.


What trade fairs can learn from fishing

The exhibitors at every trade show think about what they could show at their booths to attract the right visitors. Comparably, fishermen choose the right bait to attract the right fish. In this analogy, the trade show is full of interesting "bait" from exhibitors to attract visitors.

When it comes to visitor mobilization, trade show organizers ignore these exhibitor "lures" and instead create their own "lures" in the form of special zones and social programs.

But in doing so, they neglect the true power that is already available to them. Wouldn't it be more promising to use the hundreds and thousands of "exhibitor lures" on display at the show?


Conteo's solution: harness the charisma of exhibitors

Harnessing the power of exhibitors is precisely the idea behind Conteo.

Conteo offers trade show organizers a total solution to launch content platforms for their trade shows, replacing their existing websites and exhibitor directories. On the content platforms, exhibitors publish their bait before the trade show in the form of attractive articles consisting of text, images, videos and/or audio.

At first glance, this may not sound like anything new, because exhibitors can already upload images, videos and documents to their exhibitor profiles at many trade shows. But here we are talking about something fundamentally different. The posts work outside the context of an exhibitor profile. They are the bait that attracts visitors. In the analogy, the platform acts as a fishing rod that directs the bait to the right visitors - both on the platform and outside it, e.g. in social media.


Challenges that must be solved

For this concept to work, two key challenges must be solved.

Exhibitors are motivated and empowered to present their lures online

The content platforms are only as good as the articles that the exhibitors publish. Hundreds of exhibitors must therefore be motivated and enabled to publish interesting articles. For this purpose, we have developed Conteo Publisher, a cloud publishing platform specifically tailored to this use case. The solution provides exhibitors with a simple and streamlined user experience for creating posts, personalized task lists, automatic reminders, change approval workflows and so on. In addition, our team supports exhibitors in content creation with tutorials, webinars, and practical tips on how to improve their posts.

Enable visitors to discover the right contributions

Visitors won't click through hundreds of pieces of content. That's why we've developed many features that ensure the right content reaches the right visitors. Some examples are:

  • Self-managing topic pages: Topic pages aggregate posts related to different visitor interests. An algorithm analyzes the likelihood of visitors interacting with each post and prominently displays the posts that generate the most engagement.
  • Personalized recommendations: The platform creates a "recommended for you" page for each individual visitor based on the visitor's interests and behavior.
  • Recommendation Engine: Below each post, visitors will find "more interesting posts" based on an analysis of the content of that post.
  • Personalized newsletters: The platform automatically sends fully personalized newsletters to visitors. Each newsletter is unique and summarizes the most interesting articles for the respective user.
  • Social media interface: Posts can be shared automatically on social media. In addition, automated engagement emails motivate exhibitors to share posts on their own channels.


A new digital business for trade show organizers

The solution enables organizers to mirror their offline business model online. If exhibitors want to reach visitors prominently during the trade show, they book many square meters. If exhibitors want to reach visitors prominently on the content platform, they book many posts. So posts can be sold like square meters.

What's more, the content platform doesn't stop when the trade show is over. It works 365 days a year. Exhibitors can publish articles throughout the year and reach visitors according to their interests - on the platform, via the personalized newsletter and in social media. In this way, a new digital business is created outside the traditional live marketing offering.

Do you fancy to learn from fishing?

 Above: View of the ILMAC content platform

More than 30 trade fairs already use Conteo to operate content platforms for their events. This includes a wide variety of trade fairs: from pure B2C trade fairs such as Luga, special interest trade fairs such as “Fruchtwelt Bodensee” and large B2B trade fairs such as Holz, to highly specialized supplier trade fairs such as ILMAC.

If you, too, would like to harness the concentrated power of your exhibitors and tap into a new business model, I would be delighted to hear from you.