Claudio Della Nina was appointed managing director of Reed Exhibitions LATAM last August – in the midst of the global pandemic. VEI caught up with him to get an insight into his world.
What are your event plans for 2021?
Key industries for us include security, construction, beauty and auto parts. We are confident we will run our shows in 2021. We have moved them into the second half of this year, and they will be hybrid. We believe face-to-face has a lot of value, but we also truly believe digital can add value to face-to-face events.
What will the digital elements look like at your shows?
We have different kinds of virtual initiatives. One of them focuses on content where online attendees can watch presentations and discuss the content online – this is something people have got used to.
Another one is matchmaking for business meetings, which isn’t as easy as sharing content online, but we will be rolling out initiatives for roundtables and one-to-one meetings for people to do business.
A third initiative will be a product showcase and this, depending on the industry, can be the most challenging. In some industries, it can be difficult to showcase their products online – the experience isn’t the same. Customers in some industries have accepted it very well and some showcases from specific customers will be 100% digital.
What are the nuances of the LATAM events market?
With regards to the pandemic, it reached the Americas later than Asia and Europe, and so we were able to learn from what we could see happening elsewhere and prepare ourselves.
The trends and challenges for us are similar to the rest of the world. From surveys, we have found that people in the region are particularly very receptive to digital activities and are finding great value through them.
What have been the new opportunities among the disruption?
We already had plans to increase our digital initiatives, but Covid has accelerated these plans, which is an opportunity. The workload last year was very high because our digital initiatives required a lot of effort from everyone in the company.
We have run smaller initiatives and been trying to figure out exactly what works, what doesn't and trying different formats. We have been sharing our best practices across the business.
Once we start moving faster in this direction, it will bring a lot of benefits for our exhibitors and visitors, and us as a company. Going forward there will be a large number of smaller events taking place digitally, in between the major exhibitions, which will augment the value of face-to-face.
What challenges are you facing as a business?
The pandemic is obviously one of the challenges. We are working hard to ensure that whenever we are allowed to run face-to-face shows again that we have the right protocols in place to comply with local regulations. We have spent a lot of time creating a safe event for exhibitors, visitors, and our employees.
The virtual piece is also a challenge because we had to come up with a platform with the right software solutions to make sure that we could deliver at scale. There was a lot of testing involved.
What about the exhibitor experience online?
We haven’t seen a strong reaction from exhibitors or visitors about meeting online. They have been very willing to make it happen. Sometimes we need to provide them with more services, such as translation.
We are trying to come up with a solution where people can browse in the online environment, just as they would on the trade show floor. We don’t believe in a platform where you have the same show format with avatars – this is not the solution we want. Visitors online must be able to search and clearly see which exhibitors are there and understand which products these exhibitors are exhibiting. And we must be able to communicate easily with attendees to suggest other things they may be interested in.
Make it simple. If the platform and the navigation are too complicated it becomes too difficult for everyone and more expensive.
What will the industry look like in three to five years’ time?
I don't see virtual replacing face-to-face 100%. I believe we have to look for different means of delivering virtual shows and find all the ways of delivering this content, maybe on the TV. Augmented reality will help us with our product showcase initiative. Digital initiatives will increasingly merge into the physical show.
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