Exhibition Showcase Talks To Matthias Tesi Baur, CEO, MBB Consulting Group & Founder, Exhibitions Think Tank

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ES. Please share with us your professional journey. What have been the major milestones and most amazing achievements and moments in your career?
Tesi. I started my career at Messe Frankfurt in 1999. Before that I was running a small online agency and Messe Frankfurt was one of my clients. This was the first link to the exhibition industry. In 2000, I moved to Reed Exhibitions German and was responsible for the online department. Six years later, I became the global e-business director of Reed Exhibitions and moved to the company’s HQ in London. After another 6 years, I left Reed and the online sector, and became group portfolio director of the food ingredients portfolio at UBM (today Informa). Since five years, I run the consulting company MBB-Consulting Group. My agency is specialised in consulting the exhibition industry in strategy, commercial approach, due diligence and digital. We also offer training courses and workshops to the exhibition industry.

ES. Please share with us your take on this situation:
Tesi. We have been surprised by the situation. The current crisis is forcing our industry to reinvent our offer to our clients, take digital seriously and rethink our value proposition. It will be fundamental to go through this process of redefining our industry in a deep and meaningful way. If companies take this process of renewing our industry seriously, we can come out stronger. Companies who won’t take it it seriously might be in trouble soon.

ES. What do you see the roadmap ahead for Exhibitions
Tesi. The roadmap is to firstly rethink the value proposition, then define a strong concept of hybrid events, and finally execute this new concept in a very user friendly and business creating way.

ES. What can be the recovery guide for exhibitions?
Tesi. We launched a crisis recovery guide some weeks ago as a free of charge service for the industry. Everybody who wants to have a copy should contact us. The recovery guide goes into details of how a new sales strategy can help to come out of the crisis. It also provides insight of setting up a collaborative strategy and how to create a post-crisis USP. service for the industry. Everybody who wants to have a copy should contact us. The recovery guide goes into details of how a new sales strategy can help to come out of the crisis. It also provides insight of setting up a collaborative strategy and how to create a post-crisis USP. Finally, the guide provides insights about the concept of hybrid events. It is very important that companies start now to prepare the post-crisis phase, and our guide gives hopefully some inspirations to do this work.

ES. What do you see as the upcoming trends of Exhibitions & Conventions
Tesi. Definitely a different use of digital and upcoming hybrid events. Digital will be apat of our USP and users have to enjoy benefits also through digital channels.

ES. What is the silver lining of this pandemic Please tell us about Exhibitions Think Tank.. What led to its formation and what is the objective? Can you share some of its findings yet?
Tesi. Around 4 weeks ago we launched the Exhibitions Think Tank. The idea is to go through a structured crowd-intelligence process in which people from all over the world discuss what needs to change in the industry and how the new changes can benefit our customer. We have 20 working groups and more than 140 people working on this key mission in the Think Tank. The outcome will be a clearer picture of the sanitary crisis’ impact on our industry, and how we need to change to make the industry fit for the future.

ES. Please share with us about your new online educational courses? Who are they meant for? What value do they promise to the professionals?
Tesi. For many years, we have been offering face-to-face education courses, but following COVID-19, we are now offering our courses online. In June, we will be running the online courses “How to create a post-crisis USP” and “How to create a hybrid event concept”. Each course include three interactive modules with slides presentations, breakout groups and feedback rounds. We did a first set of this type of courses in April which was a great success. We received extremely positive feedback from the courses’ participants, and we are looking forward to the new courses in June.

ES. What do you suggest to entrepreneurs who are facing stress in these times
Tesi. Try to stay in business as long as possible and work on brand building. Also be helpful with your partner and clients. This is a time to stick together and build trust. It will pay back after the crisis.

ES. Will our industry remain the same as before? What are the areas which will see drastic changes?
Tesi. No, our industry will be different. We have to develop a new business model in which hybrid and digital will play a totally different role. Our services need to move to hybrid. I think our value proposition will be build through the physical events by 60% and through digital services by 40%. That means that physical events will play a dominnt role, but we need to invent and launch completely new services. Another potential change could be that new companies will come on the market as event organiser.

ES. Do you think that even if exhibitions open, the exhibitors and visitors will like to return? What is your assessment on the dynamics of this scenario?
Tesi. That will depend on the trust we are able to build. We need to review our cleaning, safety and security measures and it needs to become a part of our USP in a transparent way. If we do this the right way, people will be happy and confident to join events again.

ES. What has been the impact of this pandemic on UK exhibition sector? How has the UK government supported the industry so far?
Tesi. The UK government lost a couple of weeks in creating a concept and the approach is still not very clear today which unfortunately affected the industry and the entire country in a non-favourable way. Our industry does not enjoy as much attention by the government as this is the case for example in Germany. This explains why the UK currently stands a few weeks behind other countries in terms of COVID-19 response and post-crisis business developments, including the exhibition industry.

ES. Your 3 takes on how to cope with these times?
Tesi. Stay at home, stay brave, stay in business. That means in real terms: nurture your network and help your industry friends wherever you can. Be entrepreneurial and pivot your business offer. Your offer and your network will bring you out of the crisis.

ES. What is your take on Virtual events?
Tesi. I like the term hybrid event more than virtual events as the definition makes more sense to me. At this point, the concern is not about whether you offer your services in a physical or virtual set up. It is the business benefits which truly count. I see a big opportunity to do matchmaking, product introduction and online educational content to lead the industry back to physical events. It would then be a proper hybrid concept, and even greater widen our audience.

ES. How do you see business tourism gradually opening up and what are your suggestions in this regard? What is your perspective on Air Travel opening up? Your message to the industry?
Tesi. Start innovating now! The innovation cycle in our business is a long term cycle which means innovation is compared to other industries such as for example the software industry not our strongest asset. This fact carries the duty for each company to start an innovation process which pushes boundaries beyond what we normally do. Start doing this now – it is time!