Blogger: Jason Popp, Executive Vice President, International – GES

There’s no better feeling than the sensation of being a part of something magical. That’s how I felt when our team worked with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. To see the magnitude, global visibility, and sheer complexity of the event come together to create one giant unstoppable machine was, well, mind-blowing and inspiring.

A magical event is, at its simplest, about matchmaking — “Buyer, meet seller” in a B2B context or “Attendee, meet attraction” in a consumer context. But with so much new technology, increasing globalization, and new generations bringing new challenges to the marketplace, the exhibition and event industry is changing rapidly. You need to constantly evolve your offering if you’re going to seize 2016 and turn it into magic, and that means staying up-to-date on new resources. Here’s how:

  1.  Treat yourself to a subscription — or 10.You can make a valuable investment in your event simply by regularly reading trade publications. The major global trade magazines for the exhibition industry include Exhibition NewsTSNNExhibitor, and Trade Fairs International. Stay informed on more niche journals, too — ones specific to your industry that will give you a sense of what others are doing in the field.
  2.  Attend other exhibitions.The best way to keep up is to attend other events. Experiencing the layout, customer service, and programming of high-quality events will give you ideas and motivation to make your own event the best it can be. Look to events with loyal followings like Coachella and SXSW. U.S. consumer-oriented events are often trying out new technologies to stay ahead of the pack, but you should try a range of locations and industries, too.
  3. Take your team to a theme park.Yes, it might be costly, but investing in an annual team trip to a Disney theme park could provide so much food for thought and fuel for imagination that it’ll pay you back tenfold before the year is out. Look at what leading entertainment companies like Disney are doing with technology in their theme parks. There are plenty of great ideas that you’ll be able to grab and make your own.
  4.  Capture and treasure your own data.You create a trail of data with everything you do, but are you harnessing it? If you’ve been half-heartedly distributing surveys and measuring attendee satisfaction, now’s the time to prioritize those results. Incentivize feedback during and after your event, and employ a team on the trade show floor whose job it is to capture that data.
  5. Add a bite-sized new feature.The best way to incorporate new technologies and trends into your event (without risking the flow and experience your loyal attendees already love) is to introduce that new feature in a bite-sized way. Roll out your new surveys or video blogs within a specific pavilion to test their viability before you commit. Visiting other events and reading trade magazines should help you to decide how to monetize that new bite-sized feature, too.

Resource-gathering is a vital part of your life as a magical event team. If you spend the time and energy now collecting, storing, and examining those resources, you’ll be able to incorporate those insights wisely in your event to make your visitors feel exactly how you want them to when they walk into the venue.