Worlock200BIIA Chairman David Worlock was present last week in Seoul at the 80th Congress of the UFI, the Paris-based trade association which represents both conference and exhibition organizers.

His observations or thinking can be read in his latest blog “the Digital Event Revolution”.   Nothing has higher value in the world of B2B than events.  Markets and valuations all reflect this.  In a world of digital transformation events have a comforting certainty along with high margins.  Attendance at some shows may have fallen during the recession, as well as exhibitors, but this is an industry well used to the economic cycle and generally unconcerned by temporary shifts which always seem to right themselves.

Worlock raises the interesting question as to why people would always want to meet face to face in a networked world which is increasingly going digital?  It appears that for many in this industry the challenges (or distractions) are elsewhere.  How can the event be made more compelling?  Do we do it IKEA-style and force everyone to march past every booth?  Will China’s vast plans for another great conference and exhibition center in Shanghai de-stabilize the world market and drive down floor prices in Hanover and Frankfurt, traditional heartlands of the Great Trade Shows?  Will the US cease to be self-contained as a market and compete on the global stage?  How can more value be added for the user (one speaker talked of concentrating on attendees after two decades of concentrating on exhibitors)?  Yet in all this discussion it was hard to keep on reminding people that a Great Event – a CeBIT , a Frankfurt Book Fair , a CES , etc – is above all a mighty data engine.

Worlock came away thinking not how impregnable these market tenancies are, but how easy it would be to compete with them.  His plea here is to shift the underlying base of the business to a wholly digital operation.  Will the exhibit industry listen?  Only time will tell.

To read the entire blog click on this link