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The live events industry is all about face-to-face - it's fun, exciting, interactive, informative and memorable for visitors and it provides a personal touch for exhibitors by getting the products, names and faces in front of existing and potential customers. That's what we've always believed. And to prove it, the consumer insight company Cog Research has carried out the industry's first-ever psychological study of the power of live, confirming the strength and impact of our events.The research came up with some interesting facts and figures about face-to-face marketing and why it beats other kinds of marketing. Overall, Cog found positive perceptions of brands do actually increase after attending an event, and at trade events 37 per cent of visitors believe "experiencing a business firsthand makes it more memorable".People enjoy live events: One in three have a more positive attitude after attending a live event compared with one in four watching an advert on television. Afterwards, around three-quarters of people see shows as the best form of marketing. For visitors and buyers, the information provided at a live event makes it easier to make purchasing decisions. About 85 per cent of people see events as a good place to find new things, with almost three quarters seeing events as the best place to make new contacts. This goes on to have a concrete effect - the number of visitors at trade or consumer events that say they would like to buy increases by 30 per cent compared with pre-event.This is fantastic news for us, and for the (rather flagging) UK economy, because the live events industry is a major business sector in the UK. According to a report put together by the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), the overall UK business visits and events industry is worth more than £36bn to the UK economy. Exhibitions are a subset of this with around 17 million visitors attending more than 270,000 exhibitions every year in the UK, generating an estimated £9.3bn expenditure every year, contributing more than £4bn to the UK economy and providing 137,000 jobs. Clouds and silver liningsReductions in public funding are affecting businesses across the board, and this has great potential to affect the live events industry. For example, VisitBritain is facing a 34 per cent cut to its budget and will shut its Business Visits and Events department, which is likely to affect promotion of the UK as a place to visit and do business. This is the cloud - but if you listened to all the doom and gloom you wouldn't ever get out of bed. The silver lining is that it gives us the opportunity to step in and do it for ourselves - to take control and make it even better! The first step of this was FaceTime, the marketing body created for the events industry by the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Association of Event Venues (AEV) and Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA). The aim of FaceTime is to support venues, exhibition organisers, suppliers and exhibitors, and it was launched at Confex almost 18 months ago in February 2010.FaceTime has the potential to raise the profile of the events industry and increase sales and revenue. However, FaceTime can do more than just market - it can help people get the very best return on investment from events through psychological research, how-to guides, hints and tips, training resources and case studies.Tourism and business are vital to economic growth, and the events industry can drive both of these. With drastic funding cuts sweeping the public sector, there is little or no money left to help us, so we need to help ourselves. No one party can do this alone, but collectively we can as organisers, venues, contractors and suppliers, promote the value of our industry and help users maximise their investment. Having 'oven-ready' information and support to hand via a body like FaceTime makes this somewhat easier. While funding cuts and a challenging economy may initially seem like a setback, this is actually a great opportunity for the events industry as it gives us the chance to take control of our own destiny and move things forward. EN industry view ExhibitioN NEws may 2011 35Facing up to the events sector's future Chair of the Association of Event Venues (AEV) and chief operation officer at the Business Design Centre Graham Stephenson looks at the value of face-to-face marketing and FaceTime's future role in the live events industry."People enjoy live events: one in three have a more positive attitude after attending a live event"

Visit fi nd a supplier in seconds!Exhibition News has added an online directory to its website to help you fi nd suppliers and venues.ORGANISING AN EXHIBITIONJUST GOT EASIERDo you want to reach exhibition organisers in buying mode? For details on how you can be listed in the online directory contact Jaime Linin on +44 (0)20 8971 8282.