How to effectively leverage digital technology in exhibitions

Associations and professional exhibition organisers share practical applications that add value.

CosmoProf Asia incorporates a hybrid component with its Remote Exhibit Package for international exhibitors.
CosmoProf Asia incorporates a hybrid component with its Remote Exhibit Package for international exhibitors. Photo Credit: CosmoProf Asia

Optimism for the demand of in-person events is mounting. More specifically, expected recovery for the industry is expected to be “around 85 percent to 90 percent of 2019 levels by end 2023”, according to reported updates by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events.

In a survey published by the Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations (AFECA), 2022 will see demand return to between 50 percent and 75 percent of 2019 levels, while 2023 will see a 75 percent to 90 percent return to 2019 levels, leading to a full recovery in 2024.

Moving forward, industry players are adapting by shifting mindsets and approaches to maximise engagement and value. Recognising the value of virtual components in an event is one of them, and investing in digital technology is no longer a “good to have” but a “must-have” in the new norm if stakeholder expectations are to be met. 

However, a balance must be struck in balancing in-person and virtual event formats in order to effectively engage all stakeholders. The AFECA survey also revealed that 73 percent of respondents believe that on-site activities will drive events and increase engagements, while virtual events are important as a side or complementary content.

In order to retain high-quality business engagements on the show floor, UFI CEO Kai Hattenhorf emphasised that in-person components must remain at the core of events, but companies that thrive will be the ones that find the best activation between on-site industry events and online communities, content and services.

Ultimately, association leaders believe that physical events and technology must be able to complement each other. Being able to embrace digital solutions alongside traditional services will enrich the value propositions of exhibition organisers.

Informa Markets’ David Bondi, President of Asia, believes that hybrid events have been the most positive outcome of the pandemic.
Informa Markets’ David Bondi, President of Asia, believes that hybrid events have been the most positive outcome of the pandemic. Photo Credit: Informa Markets

Informa Markets’ David Bondi, President of Asia, believes that hybrid events have been the most positive outcome of the pandemic. “It offers the ability to reach new audiences, bringing an international element to the event and contributing to sustainability efforts,” he says.

Citing the example of Cosmoprof Asia, Bondi said that there are endless alternatives both physical and digital, to present a company and a product effectively to maximise engagement. 

“Cosmoprof Asia 2022 offers a Remote Exhibit Package so that our international exhibitors can connect with on-site buyers from a distance. An on-site laptop will allow exhibitors to speak directly to buyers as they experience the products in real‐time at the show,” he says.

Bondi recognises the challenges of implementing effective hybrid event strategies. “I feel the winning formula is to host the in‐person and virtual experiences at different times. It’s a challenge to create schedules that satisfy in‐person expectations for longer sessions and free‐form networking activities while also catering to a virtual audience,” he shares.

Cosmoprof Asia launched its first digital event, Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week, in 2020 to offer more companies and professionals the ability to participate virtually on the dedicated online platform.

“In recent weeks and months, the world has seen rapidly improving Covid conditions in some countries in the region with eased travel restrictions. Still, with many Asian countries and regions still not reaching similar levels of stability yet, we will have the 3rd edition of Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week in June this year, while the 4th edition will be held right after the Cosmoprof Asia physical event in Singapore in November,” says Bondi.

Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week is a virtual extension of the event which will enable travel restricted beauty professionals worldwide to participate in Cosmopack and Cosmoprof Asia. Digital Week will include virtual presence for select exhibitors, real‐time online business matchmaking for sellers and buyers, and a host of content rich recorded and live sessions including seminars and footage from the fair.



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