The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture

Mar 2017

Ahead of International Confex, Commercial Director at Olympia London, Anna Golden, discusses the venue's market research programme, as well as the organiser exhibitor visitor disparity. 

In 2015, we at Olympia London realigned our strategy to focus on a new, united goal: to become a truly world-class venue.

In order to help us achieve this, we first needed to have a better understanding of our organisers and their exhibitors and visitors. So, we hired Kantar TNS, a leading market research agency who count Unilever, Pepsico and the European Commission amongst their other clients, to design a comprehensive research programme unlike any we’ve seen within the exhibition industry before.

One year in, we’ve been provided with the first building blocks to start putting together well thought out strategic plans for the future. In addition, the programme has also provided a unique opportunity to analyse a large subset of stakeholders and provide trend-led insight that will be useful to us and our customers. It has also highlighted what we’ve identified as the ‘organiser-exhibitor-visitor disparity’.

As expected, it is clear throughout the findings that some areas of consideration are important to each of the stakeholder groups. What wasn’t anticipated however were the many areas that visitors and exhibitors considered to be a priority that organisers did not—and vice versa.

We know we are not alone in employing market research and whilst we’re delighted to be able to share this insight with our organisers, what has become clear is a genuine need to work in collaboration, analyse common themes and shape the future collectively.

We are living in an age where the traditional exhibition-goer is part of an aging market, and we are not only competing against other venues and shows, but, largely thanks to the internet, additional sources of information and experiences too. As an industry, we need to keep our eyes on the bigger picture; by working collaboratively and sharing we can both grow our industry and safe-guard it for the future.

Whilst we as a venue want to ensure our clients are happy, there is much to be said about having a better and clearer understanding of market needs from the visitor-up. In order for us, as an industry, to maintain attendance by our current generation of event-goers whilst engaging the next, it is important now, more than ever, to firstly understand their preferences and priorities.

In a world where a brand is no longer defined by what we tell the customer it is, but how they describe it to one another, will you join us in making the visitor opinion truly matter?