Exhibition World | InterviewTHE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY21Describing virtual events as 'little more than an onlinedirectory' ignores the rapid evolution we're seeing invirtual events' structure, editorial approach and - critically- user interface. We don't just use a standardisedplatform and presentation layer for each event. Instead,working with our virtual specialists UBM Studios, weprovide highly customised environments designed tomeet precisely the needs of specific audiences. Therecent COMDEX virtual event is a great example.At the heart of the exhibition industry - in person orvirtual - is the objective of bringing to life databases ofbuyers and sellers. We are all constantly looking to bringbuyers and sellers together in new, innovative andcreative ways, and to enhance the experience we offerbuyers and sellers. Using the virtual environment toexpand, extend and enhance our events is simplyanother way of achieving this. UBM's advocacy of virtual events is driven by ourdesire to help our customers meet their needs by offeringthem a growing range of innovative products which willevolve as rapidly as the technology which powers them.I see exciting times ahead. Are there any countries or regions you wouldparticularly like to enter or expand your business in?We are targeting Africa (particularly Southern Africa),Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey. In each of these countriesour first task is to build a good understanding of thedynamics of each market. We then look to establish anin-country operation which is fully embedded in thecountry's event industry but which is also able to takeadvantage of UBM's global infrastructure.Should there be another global financial crisis tomorrow, what is the best way to protect your business? Cloning events abroad,expanding into other live event formats such ascorporate events or festivals?I think the key is to spread your risk. The global crisishad a different impact on different parts of the world andon different industries. Because UBM operates in somany different verticals and in so many parts of theworld, we have been able to spread our commercial riskvery widely. As a result, the aggregate performance ofUBM's events portfolio has been very stable over thecourse of the recession. Naturally some of our eventssuffered, but some events continued to grow, and someeven accelerated their growth. For example, one of ourbrands in the contract services industry accelerated itsgrowth to over 20 per cent as the pressure of the recessiondrove demand for outsourcing higher and higher.I don't see format changes as necessarily being thebest way of protecting a business. In a downturn allformats can be affected. What is important is being thebest at what you do. Even in the worst of times,exhibitors will keep on coming back to events which arenumber one in their market because they know willdeliver results.| January 2011 |"What is important is being thebest at what you do. Even in theworst of times, exhibitors will keepon coming back to events which arenumber one in their market becausethey know they will deliver results."What are your views on emerging trends in theinternational exhibition industry? Is socialnetworking of any real benefit to you? Are yourexhibitors crying out for RFID?Social networking is what we do - and we do it in hallsand rooms. It is logical therefore that we should usesocial networking - the online version - to grow andenhance our products. But I don't necessarily see social networking as anopportunity which we can monetise. I think its valuecomes down instead to enhance our existing products.Social networking on its own does not extend events to365 days but woven into the product offering,particularly alongside and integrated into virtualevents, it can and does.In short, no, I have not seen exhibitors in any market orin any geography crying out for RFID. Exhibitors wantquality leads delivered to them, firstly on their stand butalso in networking and more so in specific leadgeneration around the virtual space.