A focused approach to business events delivers business benefits

View Latest News Publish Date: 19-Jul-2018

A focused approach to business events delivers business benefits

How can executives maximise the return on investment for the time spent at exhibitions. Michael Millward investigates

Summer has definitely arrived, there is even talk of hose-pipe bans in some parts of the country. Of course, that also means that every morning I receive an email from some organisation or another promoting their calendar of autumn conferences and exhibitions. These arrivals should provide the chance to identify learning opportunities, both by attending the conference, which will undoubtedly feature key-note thought leading speakers. Then there are the associated exhibitions, loads of suppliers of all sorts of HR related products and services brought together under one roof, with the sole aim of helping me meet my objectives, and part me from my hard fought for budget.

I am happy to admit that I do get quite excited at the prospect or being able to resolve so many issues in a couple of days at a conference and an exhibition.

Unfortunately, I then start to remember my experience last year. I attended too many conferences at which thought-leading speakers seemed to arrive just before their seminar was due to start and leave almost immediately it had finished. Their presentations were interesting, but about them. They presented their experience without transferring knowledge and there just wasn’t any opportunity to interact with them individually, so that I could ask them the sensitive organisational questions that I needed answered to move my own work agenda forward.

The exhibitions were often equally impersonal experiences. I had planned my visit in meticulous detail, working out which stands I needed to visit and the questions I would ask, without giving too much away, that would identify who might be able to assist me. I even had business-cards at the ready and had scheduled time in my post exhibition diary for the telephone calls and meetings that would be arranged with the most likely suppliers.

Alas my planning was to no avail!

My planned circuit of the exhibition to meet as many identified exhibitors as possible did not go to plan.

Stands were staffed by people keener to give me a stress ball than discuss their products, after all if I didn’t take one, they’d have to take it home. It was almost as if the number of stress balls they could distribute would be used as a measure of exhibition success.

Some were over-run by people who wanted to get their photograph taken or caricature produced, and stand staff were focused on marshalling these selfie hunters.

On others the staff were busy providing students with information that would help them achieve a high grade for their HR module or assignment, whilst other students scoffed the branded chocolates.

Of the stands where I was able to hold a meaningful conversation with a representative the follow-up I agreed with them never happened. Not one of the companies that I asked to contact me after any of the exhibitions I attended did so, despite me giving them a business card, them taking notes of my requirements and zapping me with their badge reader.

Every post exhibition contact has been initiated by me, and often the person I spoke to at the exhibition has left the company, so I must start a whole new customer interaction process. I realise that when a large organisation holds a conference it must along with all of the exhibitors arrange something that will satisfy the needs of all its members, whether they are students or the global VP of a function.

I know that some conference speakers see the opportunity to speak at a big event as a holiday with a bit of work attached, and some exhibitors definitely see being on the stand as the time they spend recovering from the previous evenings networking events. But, as the demands on executive time, my time increase and look to be intensifying there has got to be something that will enable someone like me to get what we really need from time away from the office.

What I need is a focused opportunity to meet people who know that I am there because I have

  • A specific need that I want to address and have an approved budget to spend,
  • Identified an issue that I want to address and am actively investigating how I might do that and am preparing a business case.

I doubt that many companies who exhibit at the large events give their staff the questions they need to ask stand visitors to identify those who have the potential to become a customer.

The great advantage of an exhibition for meeting potential suppliers is that it is a neutral location,

The ideal exhibition would be far from a turn-up on the day and join the massed hoards, like some sort of department store New Year sale.

Ideally, my day would be planned for me, so that I could attend some interesting conference style presentations that were focused on my needs and then meet some potential suppliers who had been briefed on what I am looking to do and had confirmed that they could provide me with a workable solution.

Fortunately, Work Place Learning Centre has found just such an event.

Forum Events are organising a series of events for senior level, HR, training and development and pay and benefits professionals.

These are tailored and exclusive events. The attendees are all invited because they are senior level executives who have shared their business objectives with the team at Forum Events. That team then searches for speakers and exhibitors who should be able to help the executives fulfil their objectives. The attendees are unlikely to be hanging around wondering what to do next. The Forum Events team provide them with a full schedule of seminars and meetings with the most appropriate suppliers.

For details of the upcoming events being organised by Forum Events please visit this link.

The next event is the HR London event. The schedule of seminars is available at this link

Members of the Work Place Learning Centre team are available to provide journalists and media organisations with expert comment on all aspects of learning at work.

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