A lot of exhibition organizers sense a lack of interest among the parties. Figures of participants are in decline, both visitors and exhibitors recur from year to year. There is no space for new organizers and the exhibition industry in Estonia seems to be at halt.
This year will witness the end of several well-known exhibitions that will cease to exist in the familiar form.
During the last year expectations of exhibitors have greatly altered. The focus has shifted from local visitors to international markets. However, this kind of contacts are hard to find locally, as participating at foreign trade shows can turn out to be very expensive. It is also important to note that young and middle-aged people have adopted completely new consumer habits and are using more online channels than ever before.
Using online environments for services, information and purchases is rapidly gaining popularity. Attracting people under 35 years to exhibitions is proving to be more difficult year by year, so changes are inevitable. Exhibition industry nowadays is heading towards interactive solutions and immersive omnichannel experience. So-called hybrid exhibitions incorporating elements of online and offline exhibitions are clearly the next big thing.
Having branches in Estonia, Russia, Latvia and Lithuania already, OnlineExpo is paving the way in this direction. They have established collaboration with several distinguished trade show organizers in order to breathe new life into well-known brands in an innovative international format. The main goal of OnlineExpo is to reshape all nuances of traditional exhibitions, from active communication to signing contracts, testing products and participating in seminars, into online functionality.
The founder and mastermind of OnlineExpo – Margus Tamm – is confident that online trade shows won’t eat out traditional trade shows. “We believe there is an audience for both options. A lot of people do like to touch things, gather leaflets, discuss and ask for advice in person. This actually opens up many opportunities for offline and online exhibitions to collaborate instead of competing.”
The new format is still unusual for both visitors and exhibitors. Tamm expresses hope, “With globally accepted best practices and solutions tailored into the platform during development, we are aiming to break the barrier of unfamiliarity. In addition to that we have teamed up with organizers of traditional exhibitions to create insightful support content about participating in these kind of trade shows – what to do before the exhibition, how to get maximum exposure during the event, how to capitalize on the resources obtained during the show and how to take advantage of all technical capabilities”.
He notes that the project has proven to be interesting, innovative and necessary. “We have a very certain vision about what we are doing, having organized a few similar events in the years 2008-2009. The know-how from these test exhibitions has been a perfect base to build our platform and team on.”
The first exhibitions were scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2016. Margus Tamm says that the first year was meant for the users to get used to the platform and he was careful not to go overboard with having too many exhibitions happening at once. There were 3 exhibitions planned for the year: TravelExpo 2016, Building Expo 2016 and HomeExpo 2016, all of which were interesting in their own way and taught a thing or two vital for future success.