Just my opinion, but the future of tradeshows is clear to me . . . the biggest ROI is in hosted buyer programs. Just look at the success that IMEX, EIBTM and even MPI have all had with hosted buyer programs in recent years. While other aspects of tradeshows have shown some decline since 2008, hosted buyer is on the rise. Why? Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say.
It's all about proving value. For the supplier the value is in knowing before the show even starts that the money spent on a booth is not going to waste because rather than standing around waiting for buyers to come to them, they have a list of pre-qualified buyers already on their schedule. One of the many values for buyers is time management—not having to roam around the tradeshow floor aimlessly looking for potential matches for their clients. Buyers and suppliers are pre-matched based on interests and needs so the one-on-one meetings create an entirely new definition of the business value of meetings.
Still not convinced? Well, as we reported in the October 2010 issue of One+, a great example of value from a hosted buyer meeting is the program MPI held at WEC 2010 in Vancouver, BC. Following the event, 88 percent of hosted buyers said they connected with suppliers who matched their needs and 97 percent said they planned to call on suppliers they met for future business.
More than US$450 million in business was contracted from the IMEX 2010 hosted buyer program in Frankfurt, and value is also seen in hosted buyer statistics from EIBTM in Barcelona. In 2009, EIBTM saw a 3 percent increase in attendance and a 4 percent increase in prescheduled appointments. The event just released its 2010 numbers today and reported increases in both categories again this year—a 5 percent increase in attendance and a 1.35% increase in prescheduled appointments.
I can tell you, while I was at EIBTM this past month, I did roam around the tradeshow floor periodically. You know what I saw? Business getting done. So often at tradeshows I see more people walking around picking up tchotchkes and I often wonder, there has to be a better way. Well, in my mind, the better way is clear. The ROI at tradeshows is participating in a hosted buyer program.
As hosted buyer programs grow in popularity around the globe, how will the concept change the dynamic of tradeshows? And even more important, many feel tradeshows are a dying breed. Are hosted buyer programs the saving grace?
On a side note . . . If you're wondering about the strategic value of tradeshow tchotchkes, assistant editor Jessie States has a story for you too. Check it out in our November/December 2010 issue of One+.