Blogger: Barry Siskind, Author: Powerful Exhibit Marketing

Most businesses have a distinct advantage over ours – predictability. When business leaders carefully follow the rules of production, marketing and finance, businesses grow. When they disregard the basic business tenants crisis can come lurking.

The exhibition business doesn’t have that luxury. In our business everything becomes a factor from the weather to erupting volcanoes to acts of terrorism. Each of these disrupting factors directly affects our exhibitors and visitors which in turn affects us.

For years the solution was to purchase sufficient insurance to cover the costs of unforeseen disruptions.  But as the cost of such coverage escalated and the number of exclusions grew the impact on exhibitors and visitors has reached far beyond what can be justified by a financial incentive alone.

Recently I read an article that stated that following the recent terror attacks in Paris, twenty percent of corporate travel managers planned to cancel travel to the City of Lights. The question that wasn’t addressed in this article was whether these same managers would reconsider traveling to Paris in the near future.

Avoiding these situations is impossible. But, mitigating their affect on your business seems possible. Let me offer three suggestions for your consideration.Better and more transparent communications.

  1. Better and more transparent communications : Your exhibitors and visitors are savvy business people. They are very aware of world-wide situations and react to them almost instantly so waiting until disaster happens for you to react is too late. I believe that communications that address issues, rumours and changes in nature should be part of the package of information that is communicated early in the process. This doesn’t mean that you will scare people from attending your exhibition but early communications empowers them to be part of the solution if something happens. One important question to ask exhibitors and visitors is “What can we do to alleviate your fears and concerns about crisis management?”
  2. Justify an on-line presence: Never before in history has an on-line presence been a more powerful tool. If something happens and your exhibitors and visitors can’t or won’t travel to your location, you need to go to them. This requires a well-thought out on-line strategy and business model that can be communicated to all parties long before the strategy is needed.
  3. Increased crisis management: Justify an on-line presence: A crisis management strategy is no longer a luxury but it has become a basic business tool. If you lack the internal resources to develop a plan there are consultants in our industry that can help.

This suggestions need to be implemented and expanded. The investment in this type of planning should be part of your overall strategy and holds the promise of longer term success.