Trade shows and exhibitions serve as a platform for exhibitors to introduce new products, increase brand awareness, and generate sales. In turn, visitors attend trade shows to learn about these new products and to connect with others.
As a result of advanced technologies and immersive technologies, the event and exhibition industry is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.9% from 2021 to 2026.
The demand for in-person, face-to-face trade show experiences has been growing for some time now. As the exhibition and events industry rebounds in 2022, it will have to meet heightened attendee expectations. Exhibitors must produce event experiences that feel fresh, new, and different to attendees in order to stay competitive.
As part of the event experts series, 10times interviewed Stephan Murtagh, Managing Director, The Exhibition Guy Group, on the latest exhibition industry trends.
Stephan has been working in Exhibitions for over 25 years. He has worked with Organisers, Venues, and Exhibitors of all types and sizes to deliver results.
Stephan has worked with many of the large exhibition organisers globally on sales and strategy, including UBM, Haymarket, GovNet, and Montgomery, to train both their teams and clients on practical sales training. As a result, he has an extensive understanding of the sales industry internationally.
This expertise allows him to assist entrepreneurs in preparing for and selling their products both nationally and internationally. He is also an Amazon bestselling author, a host of the Business Radio Show, and a thought leader in sales and exhibitions.
Stephan is a published author on Amazon, a Business Radio Show Host and a thought leader in the field of sales and exhibitions.
We reached out to him and asked him to share his expert viewpoints about how exhibitors can set themselves up for success post-covid with the right strategy and engagement process.
Could you please walk us through your professional journey?
SDM – Well I have spent the past 30 years in the Exhibition Industry and am as passionate about it today as I was all those years ago.
I started in Exhibitions, selling sqm for a big organiser in Ireland and from the moment I began just really felt home. I love the idea of selling concepts to people. I spent 12 years in the company and always had the urge to run my own business so decided to set up my own company organising shows.
Whilst it was reasonably successful, organising shows is not for a 1-person company and I always had a passion to train people. I used to see people doing Exhibitions and not getting the return they wanted. This struck a chord with me and qualified me as a trainer. Combined with my Exhibition experience and training passion, setting up The Exhibition Guy was just the complete logical step. I haven’t looked back since and get to talk about Exhibitions all day and travel to amazing places so it really couldn’t be better.
What have been the major milestones and most amazing achievements in your career?
For me getting to work with and be recognised for what I do by the big exhibition organisers is a real motivator for me. The fact that other people appreciate what I do. Training over 5,000 exhibitors was a huge milestone for me and one I am very proud of. Other ones would include Developing the “7 Steps to Exhibition Success” program, winning the” Exhibition Influencer in India” award in 2022 and being shortlisted for the Exhibition News Awards in the UK for a couple of years.
What are some of the biggest trends defining the events landscape right now, and how can event professionals capitalize on them?
There has been a monumental shift in how exhibitions are perceived in the market since Covid and we as organisers and stakeholders have to add more value to the Sqm. It’s not just about great-looking shows, it’s about bringing the right audience to them and matching buyers and sellers. This is a challenge but one we all work hard on each day
One tip you can provide for live events that want to stand out.
Focus on the Relationship, not the sale. Visitors come to exhibitions to buy not be sold. This really has never changed as a business is and always has been about people first.
What is the most effective form of content for attendee engagement?
Actually, sharing content that helps people in their day-to-day life in business. It’s not about fancy clever content, it’s about real down-to-earth content. It’s not rocket science and it was never meant to be.
What are your thoughts on the role of technology in the events industry?
I think tech is of course hugely important, but it should complement face-to-face and not take over from it. It’s not them or us battle between tech and live events. It’s like I always say to people for far too long Exhibition and Tech people have been travelling in the same direction but on different motorways. It’s about time we got on the same motorway because here everybody wins.
Your message to the industry?
Stay strong and keep the faith!
“Most companies lost or did not win substantial business because of Covid and in fact will need Exhibitions, EVEN MORE, to make up for this loss”.
The Exhibition Guy,