Redefining the future of the exhibition industry – read the final report from the Exhibitions Think Tank


The first Exhibitions Think Tank has launched its final report, which gathers the insights of
more than 150 global industry professionals to set out recommendations for the future
direction of the exhibition industry. The culmination of two global surveys and close to 100 collaborative online sessions, the report will be used as a resource to support the industry in adapting to changing customer demands since the arrival of COVID-19.

The report covers six key categories – the value proposition, exhibition set-up, digital
services, HR, commercial strategy, and marketing and communications – and focuses on
why and how each of these needs to change, as well as offering solutions to take forward.
The report concludes with recommendations for managing and delivering change to achieve
success and ensure the industry doesn’t fall back into old habits.

Matthias Tesi Baur, from MBB-Consulting Group, the organisation behind the Exhibitions Think Tank, says: “This report is a resource of the combined skills of 150 people from the exhibition industry. It spotlights that change in our industry is inevitable and undoubtedly needed, which puts us all on a mission to define this change, before this is done by others.”


Some key findings
While the full report, available here, covers detailed results across the six categories, it also
highlights some key findings about the nature of change across the industry

Health and safety is not the only focus – while COVID-19 is a health crisis, focusing on
health and safety alone will not bring about the holistic change needed to tackle the issues
caused by the crisis.

COVID-19 has made existing issues more urgent – the arrival of the global pandemic
highlighted that change is long overdue in many areas, such as digital services, and that this change needs to be accelerated to adapt to new demands.

Holistic change is needed – areas of change are dependent on each other, meaning it’s
not possible to solve challenges in one area, whilst ignoring challenges in other areas.

Ways to influence change – key ways to influence change include creating a more
diversified workforce in terms of skills, moving towards more customer-centric strategies and placing more emphasis on digital services and hybrid events.

A need to embrace change – success will only be achieved if the industry embraces
change and avoids falling back into old habits.

How the report was developed
In April 2020, MBB-Consulting brought more than 150 professionals together to discuss how the exhibition industry needs to change following the COVID-19 crisis and how to shape the future offer for customers. The Exhibitions Think Tank comprised 20 working groups, spanning five continents and four languages. Using an online crowd-intelligence communication process they discussed how change can be achieved, integrating feedback from the wider industry gathered through
online surveys.

The research included four phases:

  •  Defining the areas of change
    • What exactly needs to change in each area?
    • What does a new solution look like to customer target groups?
    • How can the exhibition industry manage this change?

Phase one highlighted 35 potential areas for change, which were grouped into nine key
catergories by the Exhibitions Think Tank working groups. Six of these categories were then
taken forward in phases two and three. The results of all four phases are presented in detail in the final report.

Continuing the success
Following the launch of the report, MBB-Consulting founded the Exhibitions Think Tank Club
(ETT Club), with a goal to continue the discussion around innovation and networking in the
industry. Matthias Tesi Baur says: “The Exhibitions Think Tank was the first of its kind in an online format, and I want to thank the team leaders, participants, media partners and supporting companies for the great contributions, discussions and insights.

“I think it is fair to say that we had countless skills, ideas, input and inspiration throughout the process, and everyone involved loved the opportunity to network and come together on a global scale to share ideas and innovate.”

Want to find out more?
 Click Here 2020-07-13-Final Report Exhibition Think Tank to download the full report.

or direct link –


Commenting on Exhibitions Think Tank initiative, Raghav Khosla, Group Editor, Exhibition Showcase and Team Leader of Team India Reboot 3.0 described the experience as truly enriching. “It was great to interact and ponder upon critical issues for our industry with global peers, getting deeper insights on critical issues affecting our industry and the way ahead for the overall sector. The report looks very impressive and i would like to thank our team members for their contribution and support to play a meaningful part in this initiative.”