FEATUREwww.exhibitionnews.co.uk 25with you to give them access to new buyers," Hughes continued. "With a consumer show however, the exhibitors are often local. You might have some global sponsors, but it's mostly done locally. That is the disadvantage of repeating a consumer show abroad over trade exhibitions." UBM Live CEO Simon Parker agreed it was important to adapt to local market conditions. "It is dangerous to assume what works in one market is instantly replicable in every other geography," he warned. As a result, the organiser now uses the term 'geoadapt' rather than 'geoclone' to describe the rapid delivery of its UK show brands in other territories.SUCCESSFUL GEOADAPTATIONSUBM Live's geoadaption strategy has seen its security event IFSEC launch in India, South India, South Africa and Nigeria. It will tackle You are unlikely to clone a branded event in exactly the same form as McDonald's might clone its restaurantsSaudi Arabia shortly. On the back of successful internationalisation, UBM Live is starting to geoadapt other events in its portfolio including Health and Safety Expo and the Facilities Show. UBM's Built Environment business is also planning to take its newly acquired UK building and construction exhibition Ecobuild to China and India in 2012 followed by other emerging markets long-term. "Geoadapting is popular because it is a great way to grow your business in new and dynamic markets," Parker claimed. "Clearly there needs to be demand for the show and the launch has to be driven by the needs of both exhibitors and visitors. If successful, this approach offers growth not possible in more mature markets and leads to a deeper and richer relationship between us and our customers."There are key characteristics that indicate the internationalisation of your current events in terms of both exhibitors and visitors, Parker explained. That said, he claimed only a handful of brands have global resonance. "It is important to note that what we are really exporting is our knowledge of industries as well as our contacts and skill in putting together successful events," he continued. "In some instances we have not used our 'UK' brand but launched a completely new brand using our skills, contacts and experience."Tarsus Group arguably has one of the most successful trade show brands running in multiple territories. The UK-based group's Labelexpo exhibition, which started in the US, now operates in 10 locations globally and each has been profi table fi rst time. Interestingly, none involves joint ventures (JVs). "Taking an exhibition brand into a new territory is defi nitely less risky than a fresh launch, provided your customers are willing to support it," Emslie said. "Labelexpo is one of the few truly global industry exhibitions because it has 150 core exhibitors that are multinationals and market themselves on a global basis. In the majority of industries, you don't have that. "If your top six guys say yes, then you know it will be a success."Having proven your show brand in more than one territory also helps attract a higher caliber of exhibitor when you expand into even more diverse locations under the same moniker."Our exhibitors recognise the brand and will therefore follow it provided we go to territories that they are interested in," Emslie said. "In contrast, a regional show covering the same industry will only get agents exhibiting."THE RISKSFor UBM Live's Parker, there are several risks to watch out for when you're geoadapting a show in an unfamiliar territory. At the top of the list is researching and engaging with the market in advance to ensure the show concept will resonate. Practical considerations that then need to be factored in are venue availability, political stability, competition, local legislation and staff resources. To do it well, your team will also need to spend a great deal of time in the country understanding local circumstances, culture and market conditions. "You can't just take a product wholesale and expect it to be the same in China or India," Emslie continued. "You need local buy-in and particularly in emerging markets, to recognise that senior managers respect engaging with other senior managers. You also need a local industry champion. We have
feature26 www.exhibitionnews.co.ukworked with local media, associations and so on. It's useless without that and you also run the risk of these people then competing with you. We also have other products in these countries ourselves, such as magazines and websites, which are key differentiators for us." Brand Events' Hughes admitted the organiser got a lot wrong culturally when it started because it wasn't in tune with subtle local differences. "I have learnt about lots of nationalities in the past five years and while it's not politically correct to say so, many stereotypes are quite true," he said. "There are also complicated attitudes to the British and British ownership. However, people generally respect British products such as entertainment and events."Given the importance of localised knowledge, Brand now takes the attitude that it must build companies in each market to run successful shows long-term. This also has financial ramifications and additional operational overheads such as sourcing office space. Travel costs and hiring more staff also have to be considered when going into a new market. For several organisers however, the choice of partner is arguably the biggest risk. Hughes said partners had been a significant part of his expansion strategy abroad."One thing is certain: You will encounter a number of challenges on your journey and you need a partner that has the same ways of doing business as well as adding value to the process," Parker added. "When you get the right partner the process can be incredibly rewarding and mutually beneficial. Selecting the wrong one can result in a completely different experience." Making Money Despite the above factors, organisers generally agree taking an existing show format to a new foreign market is the least riskiest launch model of all. Most expect to achieve the same top-line and bottom-line rewards from a show launched overseas and possibly more, depending on market. For UBM, some of its Chinese brands are in fact bigger than the original brand from which they were adapted and demonstrate considerably higher levels of both profit and growth. "That is clearly not true in smaller economies and you need to accept this is generally not a 'quick win' and it will take time for you to get returns," Parker said. Nevertheless, Hughes claimed launching an existing brand into a new territory can knock a year off the traditional three-year cycle (loss in year one, break even in year two and profit in year three). "With Taste, we were able to generate profits from year one and avoid the loss-making mistakes of launching an untried show," he said. "With Top Gear, it took two years to achieve profitability." Currency exchange could be another possible deal breaker. "You might make money in one currency but not make a profit against the pound," Hughes explained. "We have been winners and losers because of that."There's no doubt globalisation and the opening up of formerly closed markets around the world in the past 20 years have delivered more opportunities for organisers to export shows, Mack Brooks MD Stephen Brooks said. It's just a question of whether or not you're too late. What makes a market suitable for a potential edition of your show comes down to many factors. Below are several things you should consider when launching an existing show brand into a new territory. . Size of the market and catchment area. for Brand events, this usually comes down to the merits of a particular city and preferences of the demographic. "there are a lot of people living in Britain in a relatively small space, but in australia for example, they're not. So you need to look into the economy of the place," MD Chris Hughes said.. Competitive events: What exhibitions already exist in the proposed territory and how are they faring? Do you offer a better proposition or exhibitor list?. Visitor attendance: Have people in your prospective territory actually attended exhibitions traditionally and do they appreciate the value of face-to-face? "We know people in australia are more likely to attend face-to-face events, as is the european economy," Hughes said. . Willingness to travel: there's no way around it, your staff are going to have to travel - a lot. Sleeping pills and a willingness to be up in the air are key ingredients to getting any show off the ground overseas. . Cost versus currency: the price you charge for a ticket on a consumer show will influence attendance and your revenues. also, you might be making money in one currency, but wind up losing those profits when converting money back to the pound. . exhibitor support: Have you already got a solid group of exhibitors willing to back your plans into a new territory? Or are there enough local exhibitors to drive the success of your latest foreign show edition? Most organisers said the decision to take a brand into a new overseas territory was driven by third-party demand. how to take your show elsewhereFor Mack Brooks, the key to answering this question is to gauge market opportunity, the credibility of your brand in the new market, potential support from foreign exhibitors as well as local exhibitors and the most likely visitor audience."Without local exhibitors you will struggle, so it's critical of course to get them on-board," Brooks said, adding that local expertise is another must. "You can make mistakes more easily in a country you're unfamiliar with, compared to your home market," he continued. "And you are unlikely to clone a branded event in exactly the same form as McDonald's might clone its restaurants. The event can be presented somewhat differently in another market."The other thing to remember is no show brand remains static wherever you place it. Like anything else, you need to be flexible if you expect to succeed outside the UK. As an example, Emslie pointed to Labelexpo Shanghai, which has evolved from an international exhibitor-led trade expo eight years ago to one that now boasts more local exhibitors."Historically we have run these events every two years but the Chinese want the opportunity to meet annually so in 2010 we launched another edition in Guangzhou that will run the year Shanghai doesn't."Finding your FeetWhatever foreign market you're thinking of addressing, no show will succeed without market willingness to embrace it. MD of mergers and acquisitions consultancy group Steve Monnington said it was pointless pinpointing one specific territory for growth across the board."There are different markets of opportunity depending on your show," he said. "The markets where organisers have had the most success taking existing brands are those where there is an obvious gap in their sector."Clearly, geocloning is not achievable but to borrow UBM's term, geoadapting is. Taking an existing show blueprint and placing it, in one form or another, across an overseas market is a real business opportunity. If done right, it can extend the life span and reach of your exhibition exponentially. Just be sure you're doing it with the support of your customers.