Home TypeFeatures What does the future hold for the exhibitions industry?

What does the future hold for the exhibitions industry?

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The first Exhibitions Think Tank (ETT) has launched its final report, which gathered the insights of more than 150 global industry professionals to set out recommendations for the future direction of the exhibition industry.

Two global surveys and close to 100 online sessions have culminated in a report that will be used as a resource to support the industry in adapting to changing customer demands since the arrival of Covid-19.

The ETT report covers six key categories – the value proposition, exhibition set-up, digital services, HR, commercial strategy, and marketing and communications – and focuses on why and how each of these needs to change, as well as offering solutions to take forward.

The report concludes with recommendations for managing and delivering change to achieve success and ensure the industry doesn’t fall back into old habits.

Matthias Tesi Baur, from MBB- Consulting Group, the organisation behind the ETT, says: “This report is a resource of the combined skills of 150 people from the exhibition industry. It spotlights that change in our industry is inevitable and undoubtedly needed, which puts us all on a mission to define this change, before this is done by others.”

Key findings

While the report covers detailed results across the six categories, it also highlights some key findings about the nature of change across the industry.

Health and safety is not the only focus – While Covid-19is a health crisis, focusing on health and safety alone will not bring about the holistic change needed to tackle the issues caused by the crisis.

Covid-19 has made existing issues more urgent – The arrival of the global pandemic highlighted that change is long overdue in many areas, such as digital services, and that this change needs to be accelerated to adapt to new demands.

Holistic change is needed – Areas of change are dependent on each other, meaning it’s not possible to solve challenges in one area while ignoring challenges in other areas.

Ways to influence change – Key ways to influence change include creating a more diversified workforce in terms of skills, moving towards more customer-centric strategies and placing more emphasis on digital services and hybrid events.

A need to embrace change – Success will only be achieved if the industry embraces change and avoids falling back into old habits.

The ETT comprised 20 working groups, spanning five continents and four languages. Using an online crowd-intelligence communication process they discussed how change could be achieved, integrating feedback from the wider industry gathered through online surveys. The research included four phases:

» Defining the areas of change.

» What exactly needs to change in each area.

» What a new solution looks like to customer target groups.

» How the exhibition industry can manage this change.

Phase one highlighted 35 potential areas for change, which were grouped into nine key categories by the ETT working groups. Six of these categories were then taken forward in phases two and three. The results of all four phases are presented in detail in the final report.

Continuing the discussion Following the launch of the report, MBB-Consulting founded the Exhibitions Think Tank Club (ETT Club), with a goal to continue the discussion around innovation and networking in the industry.

Tesi Baur adds: “The Exhibitions Think Tank was the first of its kind in an online format, and I want to thank the team leaders, participants, media partners and supporting companies for the great contributions, discussions and insights.

“We had countless skills, ideas, input and inspiration throughout the process, and everyone involved loved the opportunity to network and come together on a global scale to share ideas and innovate.”

Visit www.exhibitionsthinktank.com to read the report.

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