A Place to Interact

As savvy event producers recognise that face to face is more about creative interaction than stodgy conference programmes, savvy venues need to reshape their offering.

Young business people in officeIt used to be said that ‘content is King’. Content – information, insights, and best practice – was used to draw people to trade shows. Quality content was a marker of excellence for a conference or event; the bigger the keynote’s name the bigger the draw.

The market has evolved and changed since the world adapted to a new workplace regime and a heightened pace emerged that’s resulted in new ways and new means of learning. Content can now be consumed in many ways, on multiple platforms and without being bound by date or time. People draw content from broadcast and print media, and through live events such as conferences and exhibitions. There’s YouTube too, streams from social channels and the meteoric rise of podcasts.

We can learn from anywhere nowadays and extract knowledge and insights from a swipe across our phones, and it seems this is having an impact on trade shows and the role of content at conferences.

Nothing was more apparent than at a recent trade show where we secured speaking opportunities for some pretty prolific clients. In days gone by they’d have packed the keynote sessions out however they each received a handful of attendees. There were no normal trade show excuses of tube strikes or train cancellations – the fact is no one attended the content sessions. The ‘show floor’ however was bustling and footfall by all accounts was up.

There’s currently a marked change in why people are going to events. It used to be to gain knowledge and insights, and of course network with peers and discover new products, but our use and reason for trade shows has changed in line with a trip to the office. Stay home for the tasks that require quiet, whether it’s for learning or for problem solving, and get into the midst of it with colleagues and peers for networking and creative thinking.

For venues who are targeting corporate events it’s worthwhile drawing on the parallels of hybrid working. Working from home is where the work is done, office based is where ideas and innovation come from. For folk in the events market, it’s no different. Guests now come to venues to network, interact and bring about creativity and innovation. When it comes to the hard work, those stodgy presentations can be played out online and at a time that suits the delegate. Today, networking, touching base and actually shaking hands with colleagues and peers is the mark of a successful event.

Being aware of the reason for the event and helping clients understand better what the outcomes and markers of success need to be will help guide organisers to even more successful events. The client’s budget may be far better spent on a drinks and power networking session then a full day conference schedule. Content can be consumed everywhere, anytime, but building back relationships can only be played out face-to-face.

We used to say content was king, I firmly believe that today, ‘context is King’.



Andrew White is MD of Triggerfish Communications, a specialist in helping heritage venues and leisure attractions build awareness and market share in the business of events.


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