Written by Francesca Sheldrake
There’s no argument about it; manual data capture is a laborious process, it’s boring, time consuming, it risks being inaccurate and there is no room for flexibility. The good news is, it’s easier to prevent these issues with the new, user-friendly and cutting edge technology that’s available today.
There are several key elements of data capture to take into consideration particularly in the exhibition space; exhibitor and visitor, organiser and exhibitor, and organiser and visitor. These elements are fundamental to the retention of exhibitors and the growth of the exhibition industry and yet this concept has not always been deemed important. It’s only over the last two decades as event professionals have come to realise the value of capturing this information that the importance has grown.
In 2011 the events industry was worth £36 billion with an estimated value of over £48 billion in 2020, £12.4 billion of which is predicted to come from exhibitions and trade shows (Britain for Events, Opportunities for Growth in the UK Events Industry). Amongst the many challenges that must be addressed to achieve this target, is the need for data. There are many areas of the industry that are keeping up with the trends in technology and the benefits of data capture, but others are falling behind. Some of the technologies available to ease this archaic process are said to be too complex for users, and others too costly. It might just be that a large percentage of the people that refuse to use what’s available to them are just unmotivated or intimidated. Technology can be daunting but unless you’re willing to take the first step, it’s never going to get easier and you’re more likely to be left behind while others choose to take a leap and enjoy the easy ride.
“The most important thing is to demonstrate how to deliver value” (Guy Horner, MD, TBA, C&IT State of the Industry Report 2015), this is critical in B2C and B2B exhibitions as other businesses invest in the opportunity to expand and promote their business. If the event organiser cannot demonstrate the ROI for the exhibitor then what will be their incentive to return? How can you measure success if you have no way of quantifying the event and capturing that data?
There is a responsibility for both organisers and venues to invest in certain technologies to provide more efficient and effective services to their customers. This applies for both inside a venue and from the moment their customers arrive on site.
“Logistics can represent up to 12% of exhibition costs and sadly can often be left to the last minute, or totally forgotten resulting in late or non deliveries.” – Tom Hall, Exhibition News (http://www.exhibitionworld.co.uk/2015/11/30/iela/0
Something I find very interesting working as a supplier to the industry, is listening to venues and organisers tell me they don’t have a problem with their traffic, when really they do but they are just unaware of it.
To provide insight on their logistical processes and to demonstrate how our software can deliver value to a venue or event, we perform a simple but timely base lining activity. This process requires us to manually capture the data of vehicle activity that our product, once implemented, does through our SaaS platform whilst reducing the volume of traffic arriving on site. We managed to reduce waiting times for one of our clients from 73 minutes, to 3 minutes whilst enhancing visibility of traffic issues and streamlining operational processes.
When we then cross-reference our findings with the data captured during a trial with our system we find that, prior to using Voyage Control, exhibitors are left queuing for hours (despite venues and organisers thinking otherwise) and the operations are often fragmented thus causing congestion and unhappy customers.
While the technology is out there, the long-standing issues around logistics that cause exhibitors not to return, is avoidable, and providing the best possible customer experience through the ease of the exhibition process is possible. There is a need for certain areas of the industry to stop forgetting about logistics, or rather, to start acknowledging its importance.