Transformation: From Trade Show Organizer to Strategic Planner of an Ecosystem

For centuries, a “trade show” has, by definition, been a live event. Bringing an industry's stakeholders together for a few days in one place, often a venue designed for such events, is one of its core concepts, along with the general presentation of services, meeting and greeting of attendees and sharing of content.

This communal experience, based on interactions between the representatives of an ecosystem, is vital, and the foundation of a successful trade show.

But it doesn't last long. Of course, for the past several years, organizers have been using digital technology to extend the life of their events. They try to build enthusiasm among the buyers and sellers in their communities a few weeks beforehand, often by email. Afterwards they share a few statistics based on volume or key moments on social media.
An ecosystem needs to stay alive all year long.
We are now coming out of the pandemic, after 16 months of interactions that were almost exclusively virtual. Even the limited length of a physical trade show feels like a heavy burden in a world where, more than ever, business is handled rapidly, at any time, 365 days a year.

In their quest for revenues, trade show exhibitors need to showcase their products, services and innovations, share information and generate leads all year round.

Buyers, on the other hand, need to stay up to date and seek inspiration continually in today's accelerating world. This was already true before 2020, but the need for density over long periods of time is even more essential as we move out of the pandemic.
From one to many opportunities to connect
Providing your ecosystem with ongoing opportunities to meet, share, learn and do business is clearly organizers' new value proposition. This means that the professional event planner is dead. Long live the event leader or the strategic ecosystem planner!

The goal: to create multiple opportunities to connect throughout the year that fulfill the community's natural desire to build the event together.

The digital world in general, and its platforms in particular, are the perfect resource for this permanent peer-to-peer networking, solutions sourcing, continuous learning.

Hybridization has arrived. You'll find it in the variety of tools used to keep the ecosystem alive, both in person and online. Traditional trade shows are now just one essential element in a comprehensive system of webinars, virtual events, a marketplace, smaller in-person events, written content, audio and video content, etc.
The digital platform, a permanent meeting place for the community
This paradigm shift has had several consequences. For organizers, the first has been a change in their habits.

The process of leading an ecosystem and the skills it requires are no longer the same. There is now a wide variety of tools. Industry knowledge is becoming more specific. The “leader/organizer” owns unique data, knows the exhibitors well and asks visitors about their needs. That's why s/he remains the true planner of key moments, and is able to provide support and education during this transformation process that adds value for the entire ecosystem. The ability to manage data, content and the digital platform must now be added to his/her traditional production or logistics skills set.

The digital platform has now become a permanent source of information for the entire ecosystem, an information channel for clients and suppliers, along with a meeting point. That same digital platform can also help managing the organization and format of those indispensable in-person events. Which brings us right back to where it all began.
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