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Fresh thinking

Mykyta Fastovets, CTO at Expoplatform, on getting fresh revenue and more value from confex events

Conferences with a significant exhibition element (often referred to as confex events) present an interesting new line of revenue for organisers. 

In addition to education and knowledge sharing, they also introduce a buying and selling dynamic, which means you now have an audience with two different – but not necessarily exclusive – sets of objectives.

In addition to attendance fees, conferences present you with revenues from advertising and sponsorship, however it is unlikely that your delegates or audience members would be willing recipients for direct sales pitches. 

Contrast this with exhibitions, where the product is essentially the exhibitors, and the attendees enter the event specifically to be sold to and to seek out products or services that may interest them. Organisers stake their reputation on the strength and value of the exhibitors they present. 

With a confex event, the challenge is to present additional value to attendees without compromising their enjoyment with unwanted soliciting. You need to know why they came, and what they hope to gain from the event.

Technology allows us to do this through two seemingly cold terms: profiling and behaviour assessment. And I use the word ‘seemingly’ because what you in fact create is a more engaging customer journey. 

For example, by giving exhibitors advertising space that will be seen by consenting conference attendees who have indicated a particular set of professional preferences, you increase the chance that they would agree to meet with these potential suppliers and partners.

To do this effectively, you need to know why each individual audience member is attending your event. One common approach is to present people with a series of tick boxes at the registration stage, typically indicating their willingness to receive news, or agree to be contacted etc, but we feel this information should be taken with a pinch of salt. People may tick the boxes, but this does not mean that they will enjoy the interaction that follows. 

However, observe how they interact and present them with a more personalised journey, and you’ll be able to see which exhibitors they may be interested in hearing from. ‘Here are the top three sessions for you to attend’, ‘here are the top three exhibitors to speak to’. They may feel this is an act of consideration on the part of the organiser, and possibly even feel more engaged in the event as a result.