At the International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ Expo! Expo! 2012 there was a 10’ x 10’ booth in the back of the hall that was generating a lot of excitement amongst attendees.
That booth belonged to IndustryConnect, who was announcing their new Attendee Toolkit technology, which will be available to go live March 1. The Attendee Toolkit provides show organizers a single online and mobile user experience for participants to network, schedule meetings, explore sessions and events, create a short list of “must see” exhibitors and send social invitations, all in one program.
Right behind their booth was Presdo Match, founded by Eric Ly, the co-founder of LinkedIn and the creator of the networking technology IndustryConnect uses in their Attendee Toolkit.
Presdo Match allows attendees to easily create complete networking profiles using their registration data and LinkedIn profiles. Their technology has already been in use by such shows as Infocomm, WINDPOWER, SPE, Solar Power International and RECon.
While IndustryConnect, established in 2005, may not be a new player, its founder Dave Einzig already had been in the industry for many years prior to the launch. At the age of twelve, he was tagging along with his father, Stan Einzig, an established expo industry photographer.
It was clear after a demo of Einzig’s product that during that time he was paying close attention to the needs of show organizers, exhibitors and attendees.
What was it about IndustryConnect and Presdo that had the show buzzing?
What makes them stand out immediately from others in this space is their sleek design. That is likely a result of the fact that is was developed by a team from Silicon Valley and brought a contemporary look and feel to the trade show industry. The result looks more like the social networking sites today’s customers are used to seeing.
Beyond the look and feel, it seems that the new approach to trade show technology addresses some major pains that show organizers have been experiencing.
“We’ve been working with our show management clients for many years now to get their digital strategies on track,” Einzig said, “and it was clear that they first needed to give their audience a more streamlined user experience to get any real momentum in both participation and revenue. There were just too many disjointed technologies and destinations for registrants to find, and very few of them worked well with each other. The Attendee Toolkit was developed with those clients to put great features all in one place, right in the show web site, where they belong.”
Another noteworthy new element of the Attendee Toolkit is the fact that the exhibitor directory is very content focused. Exhibitors can build rich profiles with social media, links, videos, pictures and news announcements. Rather than paying for that, the Attendee Toolkit gives them the option to have that content featured in push attendee e-Newsletters, the built-in Exhibitor T.V. and News Network.
“Another main obstacle our clients were facing was that their exhibitor directories were barren of content,” Einzig said. “If the directory is not engaging. why will attendees use it in the first place?”
Andrea Bahr, special projects manager at Society of Petroleum Engineers, has been using IndustryConnect’s Countdown to the Show attendee e-marketing campaign for the past three years.
She says they immediately saw a higher click through rate over what they had been using, meaning attendees were interested in seeing previews of the new products and solutions exhibitors will be showcasing at their annual OTC event.
Often when show organizers hear talk of new technology, they immediately think it will add more work to their ever-growing to-do list. Einzig said that IndustryConnect is half technology and half resources. It’s all about, “having a built-in strategy to drive awareness and participation. Technology is only as good as how many attendees actually use it and how many exhibitors see value from it and invest in it,” he added.
IndustryConnect doesn’t just provide a tool. Right out of the gate there is a team of marketing people who work with the show organizer to provide education, awareness, participation and revenue. “IndustryConnect’s team does the work to make sure deadlines are met, sponsorships are sold, and everything looks good,” Bahr said.
By using a tool with a high level of engagement and providing valuable content show organizers are able extend the length of the show.
Einzig and Ly’s next goal is the get show organizers thinking in a 365-day mode. “The online and mobile experience around an event is critical and if you do a good job there, and provide a valuable and enjoyable service, you can keep the networking, directory and news feeds going after the physical show has ended,” Einzig said.
Ly also wants to get the industry to think about a 365-day community. “Such year-round engagement will make many of the show managers’ other initiatives that much more successful while opening up the potential for continuous capture of revenue,” Ly said.
He also added that by extending your event this way it ensures the face-to-face portion remains a strong central focal point of the industry.