Back To The Future?

Why getting smaller could be the next big thing.

Global-scale trade fairs and conferences can be great experiences, bringing together businesses and potential customers from every corner of the planet in (usually) a desirable location. For many they are the high point of the year – although they may not always admit it.

But, as we know too well, times have changed – at least for the short-term. Thousands of visitors and delegates flocking to a single venue from around the world may represent just too many unknowns to be viable in the current, stressed-out climate.

Aside from managing the all-important health factor, add in logistical and travel costs, sustainability concerns, cancellation fears in the event of a sudden localised lockdown, and it’s not hard to see why large-scale international events are a possible challenge to exhibitors, organisers and visitors right now.

You could say that our ability to think big is also helping us to think small.

So, is there an alternative, an option that will satisfy rebooting businesses who still want to offer customers all the benefits of person-to-person engagement and hands-on interaction with products in a physical exhibition space?   

Yes – and it’s called ‘Smaller’. It may also be termed ‘Regional’ or even ‘Local’.

Thanks to the recent hiatus and the consequent opportunity to take stock, it’s a scenario being actively explored by CDI World and a number of our clients in what, we believe, could one day be seen as a landmark moment in the events industry.

Fortuitously, our international reach and proven supplier network, coupled with reliable delivery in concert with our well-integrated global partners, means we’re perfectly positioned to begin shaping a new era of more compact shows. You could say that our ability to think big is also helping us to think small.

Wind back 40 years and regional shows were the norm with exhibitors and event organisers able to reach local audiences with more targeted and tailored messaging. And, although the environment was very different then, good contacts were made, business was done and orders were placed.

The advantages of this approach, updated for today, can be considerable.    

One of the most important benefits from our point of view as an exhibition specialist, is the opportunity to make more use of local skills and labour. Running projects across the world has allowed us to establish relationships with trusted, very competent manufacturers and contractors able to meet our high standards.

With tight controls in place, this enables us to manage distant projects with smaller in-house teams, reducing travel, logistics and even materials costs (through local sourcing), while, at the same time, boosting employment and the economy around the exhibition venue.  

The benefits for both show exhibitors and visitors can include reduced potential for cross-border issues, complicated travel restrictions and unexpected quarantine requirements. And because delegates tend to travel shorter distances, many air miles are cut, resulting in a lower carbon footprint – good for everyone.

There’s a powerful resilience advantage too. No exhibitor wants to chance a substantial investment on a single large, one-hit trade show that could be cancelled by a last-minute lockdown. Far better, for example, to plan six smaller bespoke regional events. Outbreaks at two venues would still allow four to operate successfully.

By offering single-point-of-contact account management, we can make a multi-location exhibition plan simple for clients. We also have the essential global experience and local support networks to ensure that quality is consistently high – however small the scale of the stand or the venue.    

It’s a bit like going back to the future. Sometimes you need to take a step back to see how you should move forward. We’re doing that in partnership with our clients, and the future looks very promising.