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The Korean Exhibition Forum – December 1, 2011:
Creative Innovation

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When economists talked of emerging economies and which countries would lead in the 21st century, the focus had been on the big four: China, Russia, India and Brazil.
But, sitting patiently, we find a sleeping giant who may have woken from its slumber and is ready to take its place in the world – Korea. 

Last year Korea’s exports topped the one trillion dollar mark and its exhibition industry is thriving. At the recent Korea Exhibition Forum, industry organizers met in Daegu,
South Korea, to talk about the future and how their industry will be able to brace itself for the oncoming internationalized. Six speakers talked to 170 delegates telling
them how the secret of Korea’s success was wrapped up in this year’s theme – Creative Innovation.

Photo by Barbara Siskind

As the moderator of the one-day event, I was given the honour of presenting the opening session, “What the 21st Century Exhibitors are Looking  For”.  During this
presentation, I examined how complex the job of exhibit manager had become and how the show organizer could play a role in helping mitigate some of these
complexities.  I then provided strategies for organizers in eight categories: Easy to use tools, ROI calculator, Training, Methods of lowering costs, Revitalizing show
plans, Focusing on high level decision makers, Enhancing exhibitor/visitor engagement. and Increasing the effectiveness of marketing. 

Photo by Barbara Siskind

I was followed by Raul Calleja, Fair managing Director for IFEMA – Feira de Madrid. Mr. Calleja spoke to the audience about the five magic keys to happiness for the
fair organizer. His five were: Transformation, Adaptability, Guidance, Trust and Credibility. Although his comments were directed to the show organizer his overall
principle was that when the organizer can perform at a level of happiness and contentment, this feeling often cascades down to those people the organizer comes in
contact with – exhibitors and attendees. 

Dr. Bjoern Kempe, General Manager of Comexposition Shanghai spoke about innovative visitor marketing tools using SIAL as his case study. His thesis was that the way
to grow his show and provide more value to his exhibitors was to increase the number of international visitors. He divided his marketing into two areas: Online and Offline. 
 He admitted that he was looking for new and exciting methods of attracting visitors and not everything worked but failure didn’t stop him. It was a great lesson for organizers
as well as exhibitors. 

The firth speaker was Cathy Breden, Executive Director of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. Her topic was “Rethinking the Marketing Mix.” She began her
presentation with a description of how exhibition marketing has moved from a brand centric defined in four P’s – product, place, price and promotion, to a consumer centric
defined in five C’s – customer, convenience, cost, communications, and conversation. Using recent CEIR research she spoke to the audience about the use of technology
in the changing demographic of
trade show visitors. 

Next was the topic of innovation from the prospective of a service provider. Dr. Nat K.H. Wong, President of Singapore-based  Agility Fairs and Events – Global spoke
about adding value. His thesis was built on a model where the components of an exhibition – organizer, exhibitor, venue owners and contractors – were integrated to
create a single approach to the exhibition.  Some of his suggestions for organizers to add value to its exhibitors included: shortening the participation process, removing excess
costs and
developing long-term loyalty. 

The wrap-up session was presented by Steve Monnington, Managing Director of UK-based Mayfield Strategies - a M & A firm specializing in the exhibition industry -  who told
the audience how to prepare their exhibitions for a potential sale.  

Conferences like this are a terrific opportunity for delegates to focus on timely topics and although the audience consisted of show organizers it was encouraging to see how the
needs of exhibitors are forefront in their thinking.  The other message is for those companies who may be sitting on the fence unsure whether to jump into the Korean marketplace.  
Korea which now boasts world-class venues with highly professional show organizers may be worth considering as companies plan their global expansion

© 2013 by Barry Siskind