The news from Thebe Reed Exhibitions that the Sports and Event Tourism Exchange (SETE 2015) is being switched to a Table Top Event raises a number of interesting questions. Thebe Reed says the “Table Top Exhibition” is the latest trend and has dubbed this as an H2H (Human 2 Human) event.
IBTM Africa, which is also run by Thebe Reed, was launched as a Table Top Event and competes with Meetings Africa, which has a more conventional format with exhibition stands. A table top exhibit is an option where the exhibitor makes use of only a meetings desk or table top to conduct one-on-one meetings throughout the day. So the first question is: Yes, this is a new trend but will the industry follow suit?
Like the business events industry in general, the exhibition industry is finding the going tough in the face of the current global economic situation. So the answer is where are the best returns to be had. I have always been somewhat amused at the figures produced by organisers as to the total value of deals concluded during a show. As business events are a “future” industry, these figures can at best be speculative. In short, it would be difficult to say which exhibition format would provide the best solution.
Exhibitions have survived despite predictions of extinction. A while back, when the digital world started to emerge, it was forecast that “virtual exhibitions” would be the thing of the future. But this never happened, basically because the visitor needs to get the “feel and touch” of the product. And so it may be with Table Top. On the flip side, Table Top is lean, focused, and no distractions.
I guess that, at the end of the day, it will be a matter of “horses for courses”. In other words, whatever suits a particular industry best.