Can Matchmaking Save TradeShows – It’s Worth Another Look
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The first matchmaking for a B2B Fair was carried out in India by EXHICON for Korea TradeShow. Organised by Korea Trade Centre (KOTRA ) in 2006 at NESCO , Mumbai, EXHICON had done a massive matchmaking of over 5000 Trade Visitors during Three Days event.
A team of Professional Match Makers had come from KOREA to train Team EXHICON to carry out the task. Fourteen years after this unique way of business meetings in TradeShows was discovered in India, Peter MacGillivray writes as to how the concept of B2B MatchMaking can again help the Exhibitions during COVID 19.
It’s been more than a decade since the trade show industry began widespread exploration and roll out the concept of matchmaking – the dating service equivalent of hooking up a buyer with a seller. At the time, the concept seemed revolutionary: show producers could offer a tailored experience that would be more effective than just putting everyone in a giant fishbowl. Bringing together potential customers and the exhibitors who should be of greatest interest to them would appear to be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the idea never really took off.
Why wouldn’t people respond positively to a program that seems so much in their own interest? In my personal, admittedly unscientific view, there were two key reasons. First, the technology used to accomplish the matchmaking was always a bit quirky. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the buyers were always a little too fickle. Often, they would get cold feet and wouldn’t show up for their “dates.” You can only be stood up so many times before you give up and move on.
However, a lot has changed in the last ten years , including an evolution in technology. Heck, even I can schedule an appointment in Outlook. And, given the experience we’ve all endured over the last 100 days, I can envision a fairly easy transition to b2b events that are “appointment only.” I believe stakeholders would even embrace it.
At a time when retailers are forced to close sections of their stores to reduce browsing and minimize unnecessary foot traffic, maybe it’s appropriate to consider whether an appointment should be required for entry into your show in addition to merely showing a badge? Imagine the amount of pre-event research buyers would do BEFORE the show (something that we always want them to do). Our shows were always super-efficient in terms of the number of qualified people you’d see in a day. I think we could maintain, if not increase, this productivity.
Some additional strategies we might want to pursue:
– Reserve certain show hours for appointments only and narrow the amount of time available for “cruising the show.”
– Implement stand-alone new product showcases, with a limited capacity, and reserve the show floor for appointments.
– Require participants to produce a schedule (along with a badge) in order to enter the show.
Matchmaking has a long history, but now is the time to dust off the notion as it applies to our events. The principles behind it are solid and the technology is readily available.