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From big data to smart data: how trade fairs use data profitably

Published on 1/16/2019 by Philipp Klett
Big Data & Smart Data for the Exhibition Industry ( MCH Group)

The trade fair of the future is a personalised "wow" experience for visitors, exhibitors and the media alike, an interactive intermediary partner – all year round and in digital form even after the live event has come to a close. Data plays a decisive role here. Find out more about the possibilities and uses of data, how you can turn big data into smart data and use this to benefit your business. And what's more – most of this data is already being captured.

Just imagine: you're greeted personally on the trade fair website. You immediately see the exhibitors and products that interest you. And because you visit the fair every year, your ticket is already in your shopping cart and you just have to confirm your purchase. You still need tickets for colleagues, a hotel, or a restaurant reservation? No problem. The chatbot will help you. The newsletter and social media will inform you beforehand about the topics of relevance to you and stoke your anticipation. Once you arrive at the trade fair, you follow the individual visiting plan set out in the app, taking you to the relevant exhibitors and other visitors on the basis of your interests. Exhibitor documents and contacts are collected contact-free at touch terminals. Even after the trade fair has come to an end, it is still not over. All the important documents and contacts are set out in your personal account, you receive the relevant news by e-mail, and you can exchange information with other industry representatives in the online community.

Knowledge lead through data

This is how people could experience trade fairs in future. One thing is clear: if trade fairs are to be successful, they must be more than sellers of floor space and more than mandatory dates that feature regularly in people's diaries. Visitors expect personalised "wow" experiences that stick in their mind, the latest products and services all at a single location and information that is suitably tailored to them. The trade fair as an active, knowledgeable partner and an intermediary for exhibitors, visitors and the media. This is also what the MCH Group is setting out to achieve.

Data plays a key role in this development. It enables us to make decisions, deploy data-based applications, recognise interrelationships and automate and optimise processes. The knowledge lead achieved through data can secure competitive advantages.

Data trades fairs already collect

Trade fairs already collect vast quantities of data from visitors and exhibitors. A few examples:

  • Registration and shop
    • Name and address
    • Sociodemographic data: company, position, industry, interests, etc.
    • Number of tickets purchased
  • At the trade fair
    • Entry and departure
    • No show
    • Movement profiles (anonymous) and heatmaps
    • Capacity utilisation of halls (peak periods)
  • Website
    • Surfing behaviour
    • Search entries
    • Interactions with the chatbot
    • Cookies
    • CTR
  • Social media
    • Interactions
    • Interests
    • Feeling (mood)
    • Likes
    •  Recommendations/shares
  • Photos and videos
    • User-generated content
    • Viewing duration
  • CRM

  • Telephone calls
    • Number
    • Duration
    • Content
    • Result
  • Surveys
    • Feelings
    • Feedback
  • Newsletter
    • Opening rate
    • Clicks
    • Consent for GDPR
  • Exhibitor data
    • Name, address
    • Services and products
    • Innovations
    • Target groups
    • Contact person
  • Apps
    • Installs and downloads
    • Personal profiles
    • Number of tickets purchased on mobiles
    • Chats
    • Watchlist

10 possible uses for data

Used correctly, data brings considerable advantages for exhibitors and visitors and optimises the trade fair experience. A selection:

  • Matchmaking with the aid of artificial intelligence: bringing together supply and demand (interest), i.e. similar or matching visitors, exhibitors and media.

  • Capacity utilisation of the halls: planning of personnel and offerings and accompanying programme, as well as optimisation of capacity utilisation through the analysis of past data in combination with new ticket types.

  • Which target groups come when? Alignment of the accompanying programme to visiting times or organisation of new (micro) events.

  • Movement and interest profiles (GDPR-compliant): visitors receive personalised contents, recommendations and suitable events or exhibitors based on their interests and where they happen to be.

  • Derivation of interests: in addition to the interests that visitors are explicitly prompted to enter, so-called implicit interests can be derived from website click streams or WLAN tracking by means of geofencing.

  • Insights and predictions, regarding behaviour and ticket sales, etc.: similar visitors or exhibitors can be addressed in a dedicated manner. New contacts can addressed directly in an appropriate manner on the basis of the clusters found.

  • Extended or new business models: findings from internal data can also be made available to external parties (e.g. exhibitors, sponsors, applications). Or: internal data can be combined with external data (weather, exchange rates, etc.) to obtain new findings. 

  • Market research and analyses: qualitative and quantitative surveys can be supplemented by big data from web forums or social media, for example, to achieve broader insights.

  • Individualised 360-degree communication: it would theoretically be possible for each individual contact to be sent an individual communication/customer journey. Specific interests can then be addressed in a highly targeted fashion.

  • Data mining: examining data for patterns and interrelationships. Are there visitors who could be interested in other trade fair formats too? How extensively do other events, the weather, the amount of traffic and the parking situation on the day of the trade fair affect sales at the trade fair. Which exhibitors attract particularly important industry representatives?
For data to be used profitably – so that visitors, exhibitors, media and organisers benefit from it – the aims must first of all be clearly defined. Following this, the correct data is filtered out of the available mass of data – the big data – in order to generate the smart data. It's not the quantity that is important, the quality is what counts. All the data sources are merged to this end and reduced via multi-stage funnel analysis. This is an ongoing process and calls for constant optimisation. The quality of the data should also be continually improved. And it goes without saying that the security of the data should always be guaranteed.

Data protection as an opportunity

Data protection must naturally be respected for all these processes. Laws such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) should not be regarded as a hindrance but as an opportunity. As an opportunity to see which data is captured for what reason, how it can and may be used and which added value this generates for all those concerned.

Philipp Klett

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