Lately, to say the least, many industries have turned upside down. Not least the trade fair industry. Do not set, set if has become a resounding motto that many trade fair organizers have taken advantage of and with the results in hand, it has led to a lot of exciting insights and discoveries.
Frida Edman is business manager at the Swedish Exhibition Center and responsible for the Book Fair. In 2020, the Book Fair received over 600,000 views and thus became Sweden’s largest digital event.
– The most important thing for us was that despite the time we live in, we should make the conversation about literature and education accessible. We wanted to take responsibility for that conversation. Therefore, we chose to develop a new service that we call the Book Fair Play. We realized that the physical meeting is difficult to replace with a digital exhibition. We instead chose to make over 150 literary conversations available digitally, says Frida Edman.
Although the physical meeting is still important in networking and trained events, there is another perspective that must not be forgotten, namely accessibility. The transition to semi-digital events and hybrid events has opened many doors that previously could not be opened.
– Digital innovations such as Bokmässan Play can make parts of an event accessible to people who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to come and take part in the content. Digital platforms help us meet new target groups and can contribute to greater dissemination power. The physical meeting can not be replaced, it is still true, but digital platforms can compensate and complement the experience on site, says Frida Edman.
During the Book Fair 2020, the literary conversations were shown a total of over 600,000 times. Compared to the classic visitors of the Book Fair, Frida Edman and her colleagues could see some exciting developments in the participation.
– For the first time, we could see that people participated from all parts of Sweden and the Nordic countries, and also several parts of the world, who had not previously traveled to Gothenburg to participate physically. In addition, the number of men who participated increased. Normally, 20% of our visitors are men, but in 2020, more than 32% of men took part in the content.
The current situation has led to an involuntary change in the trade fair industry. But with that said, it has also come to be a valuable change. Right now, the Swedish Fair is in dialogue with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Swedish Public Health Agency about how the fairs can be opened up in the future with restrictions and distancing. But, whatever the future holds for trade fairs, hybrid events and semi-digital solutions will remain as a complement to the physical trade fair.
– I believe that the experience can be enhanced both on site but also for those who do not have the opportunity to be on site. We saw that many want to be in place, but you also want to be able to take part in the content afterwards. There is a strong willingness to pay for it. On site, you get new ideas and perspectives and leave with a new experience. What you can do afterwards is to improve your content with the help of a digital service. There is a huge potential to meet new target groups and get their brand out in completely different ways. As a player, you will eventually strengthen your business if you work with hybrid events, Frida Edman concludes.
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The Swedish Exhibition Center Gothia Towers is one of Europe’s largest integrated meeting places with a unique city location in central Gothenburg. Swedish Exhibition Gothia Towers arranges and runs fairs, meetings, hotels, restaurants, spas and a show arena. Every year, just over two million visitors are welcomed to the meeting place. Svenska Mässan Gothia Towers is owned by a private, independent foundation, Svenska Mässan Stiftelse. The foundation’s mission is to promote business and industry, and every year just over SEK 3.2 billion is generated in tourist economic effects.