Is the cost of attending worth the networking opportunity at industry trade fairs?
Before things got a bit squeezy, people went to trade exhibitions without really considering the cost, but is it really worth it now?
For example, the upcoming Freight Summit 2009 in Macau, Asia is keen to promote itself as a networking forum for forwarders to gain valuable new leads and potential business opportunities at a time when competing for contracts is at its most cutthroat.
Although forwarders are understandably reticent to share details of their latest strategies to cope with the new world order in the global shipping sector, it’s clear that streamlining processes and making sure that every stage is as tight as possible is the only way that many operators will survive.
But as one senior representative of a UK-based shipping company who is not planning to attend the event explained, “It’s all well and good spending money to get to the event and then networking when you get there, but I’m finding that it’s looking a bit out of sync with the world to be flashing cash we don’t have. At the moment, I think it’s more effective to work on reassessing our internal processes, such as guaranteeing full return cargo on every journey and getting on the phone to contacts when there is space to fill.”
It is true that there is no real replacement for face-to-face meetings with key clients, but it is increasingly crass to fly teams of marketing people to global events when there is no guarantee that it will convert to money on the bottom line. Attendees at international trade fairs are down considerably in 2009, with many companies citing that it has made no discernable difference to sales.