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TRADE SHOW MANAGEMENT

Wiesbaden: Gabler, 2005
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The editors:
Manfred Kirchgeorg
Werner M. Dornscheidt
Wilhelm Giese
Norbert Stoeck

Introduction

Although the business and economic literature is flooded with management themes in general, the particular subject of trade show management has remained something of a backwater – despite its indisputably substantial macroeconomic importance to the trade show industry. Trade show companies have taken root all over the world. Some have their own exhibition grounds and are very professional in the way they plan, organise and stage events. Yet doing so demands highly specialized management expertise.

Most papers examining selected trade show management issues from a theoretical and practical perspective appeared only as recently as the 1990s. Brief articles cropped up earlier in trade show-specific journals, but tended to focus on narrow aspects of trade show management linked to transient topics or headlines.

We, as the editors of this compendium, made it our goal to provide a cogent framework for the key problem areas in trade show management, a framework that would be acknowledged and accepted by both practitioners and the scholarly community alike. We have found a management-oriented approach especially useful in this undertaking. Accordingly, the articles in this compendium; Trade Show Management; are grouped and categorised to reflect the principal stages in the management decisionmaking process.

"Trade show" is only one of many terms used around the globe to describe one and the same phenomenon. This compendium treats the terms trade show, trade fair and exposition (naturally, with the exception of World Expositions) as synonymous. A trade show can be defined as a temporary market event, held at intervals, where a large number of buyers (attendees) and sellers (exhibitors) interact for the purpose of purchasing displayed goods and services, either at the time of presentation or at a future date.

Trade show management involves planning, coordinating, implementing and monitoring these events. To this end, trade show organisers have recourse to a wide range of service providers. In many cases, trade shows exist in symbiosis with conventions and
other events, during which market players seek to enhance the “pull” or drawing power of shows by adding complementary congresses and attractive sideline programs.

Trade show management can be examined from various angles. One is the perspective of the decision-makers at the trade show companies or trade show providers that plan, organise and stage these events. The articles honing in on this viewpoint cover the core of organisers' trade show management activities. They begin with an analysis of the point of departure for trade show companies — the foundation upon which decisions about objectives and strategies are to be based. Decisions about strategic alternatives stake out the framework for long-term activities, providing orientation for both the goals and the realization of individual trade shows. To plan and operationalise trade show projects successfully, management teams must apply suitable organisational strategies and recruit highly qualified executives and staff. Tight controlling is an integral part of the systematic management process. The resultant feedback shows whether goals have been met or if new trade show strategies are called for.

At every stage in the management process, trade show companies come into contact with a broad spectrum of stakeholders and service partners. Therefore, any worthwhile compendium of Trade Show Management must explore the perspective of these target groups. During the planning, organisation and staging of trade shows, trade show users, those on the demand side, make relatively complex management decisions. Examples include deciding whether to participate in a trade show or how to design its presence. Such issues appear in this compendium under the heading: How exhibitors and visitors manage their trade show activities.

Figure 1: Content structure of the compendium Trade Show Management

Building on this management-oriented classification of trade show specific issues, Fig. 1 outlines the structure of this book. To help you find your way around the various authors' articles, here is a brief summary of the contents.

Part I: Origins, history and future challenges of the trade show industry

The articles grouped into Part I are devoted to the origins and historic development of the trade show industry. The first chapter provides an introduction to the history of trade shows, spanning back to their very beginnings and tracing the evolution of an industry whose roots are deepest in Europe and in Germany, in particular.

Moving on from this historic context, the second chapter discusses different types of trade shows and their goals and functions. It analyses the regional, national and international impact of trade shows. The third chapter investigates requirements placed on infrastructures and locations. The fourth chapter makes some extrapolations about
future developments and concludes Part I.

Part II: Strategic management of trade show companies

The origins and outlook of the trade show industry paint the backdrop for strategic trade show management, the activities and aims of which are portrayed in Part II. The first chapter lays the groundwork for understanding trade fair research and collating the information needed for conducting strategic trade show management. The procurement
of information forms the basis for deriving trade show-specific goals and approaching fundamental strategic decision-making. The second chapter covers a wide range of strategic factors: the importance of corporate principles and trade show company portfolio, PR and multiplier strategies, to name a few.

The third chapter offers discussions of product development strategies. Individual trade shows are the actual products (or services) provided by a trade show company. Thus, the decision to develop a new show is one of the most important tasks trade show company managers ever have to tackle. Chapter four looks at problems regarding the formation of strategic alliances, collaborative ventures and networks from the point of view of trade show companies.

In many cases, systematic internationalisation is the only way for trade show companies to grow their business. The fifth chapter covers all the key issues related to internationalisation; it deals with fundamental aspects of internationalising the trade show business and advancing the experience of trade show management teams in different countries and on different continents.

Part III: Operational management of trade show companies

The foregoing treatment of strategic trade show management sets the scene for taking practical steps and applying organisational models. Part III provides analysis of operational trade show management and focuses on matters of project and process management, the use of marketing tools to acquire exhibitors and visitors, and the various forms of trade show controlling and quality management available.

Part IV: Managing special trade show events and service providers

At a time when competition in the trade show industry is becoming ever more fierce, the number and variety of related services, congresses and events on offer is growing constantly. As this development unfolds, managing events, congresses and services is
often a constituent part of what it means to manage a trade show company. Part IV is devoted in full to this topic.

Part V: How exhibitors and visitors manage their trade show activities

Whilst Parts II through IV concentrate primarily on trade show management from the point of view of trade show companies, Part V shifts to the perspective of exhibitors and visitors. Issues related to participation in trade shows form the centre of attention in this portion of the guide.

We hope that you as a reader will find the structure of this compendium useful in gaining a systematic understanding of the core issues that concern the broad topic of trade show management. The compendium Trade Show Management is also meant to serve as a reference work for delving into specific subject areas. Thus, we’ve supplied an extensive index of keywords for your convenience.

We trust that the book in your hands will give you an informative, in-depth insight into the fascinating world of trade show management.

Manfred Kirchgeorg
Werner M. Dornscheidt
Wilhelm Giese
Norbert Stoeck

“In the forward-looking markets of Asia, as in other parts of the world, trade shows play a pivotal role as 'marketplaces for markets' – bringing international and local exhibitors and visitors together. Trade Show Management is a veritable treasure trove of ideas for successful trade show and event management."


Dr. Charles Chow, Managing Director, East-West Gateway Pte Ltd, Singapore

 


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