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Exhibition Performance Analysis: From the Selection of Measurable Criteria to ROI 3. Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA)

In this article, we discuss advanced exhibition result analyses and the relevant assessment frameworks focusing on the cases from Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), 3-stage exhibition performance assessment model suggested by American marketing researchers and Hewlett Packard (HP)’s trade show follow-up practices, where it is possible to not only quantitatively evaluate the performance of participation, but also to assess return on trade show investment (ROTSI).

It is expected that the comparison of these advanced exhibition assessment frameworks can facilitate the further discussion over the accuracy and efficiency of established exhibition assessment models, which have been required to be improved in its quantitative and economic feasibility, so that the tens of billions of won government aids on hundreds of foreign exhibition events could have more fruitful results.

3. Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA)
: Do-It-Yourself Cost-Benefit Calculator for Trade Fair Benefit Assessment

World Best Exhibition Country Developed a ‘DIY Trade Fair Benefit Analysis & Assessment Software Application’

Germany, World Best Exhibition Country Hosting 160 International Exhibitions Annually
Germany is the world best exhibition country holding about 160 international trade fairs where 16 million buyers participate. The economic effects of the exhibitions and trade shows are literally enormous, since world famous global companies visit Germany annually to participate in the exhibitions while 30% of total international trade in Germany are derived from these exhibitions. Therefore, understanding how much economic effects each exhibition can bring about and how much benefit individual participant companies can obtain is very important for the exhibition industry and the entire economy of Germany. Of course, there is abundant statistical data pertaining to exhibitions in Germany. However, most of these data consists of macroscopic numbers pertaining to the exhibition industry or focusing on a few large convention centers and large-sized corporations. That is to say, for small and medium sized companies or relatively smaller exhibitions, the relevant data is not sufficient for them to conduct the performance analysis and assessment.

Developing a Trade Fair Benefit Analysis Program for Individual Participant Companies
In this situation, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (hereafter “AUMA”), developed a do-it-yourself trade fair benefit analysis and assessment software program named ‘Trade Fair Benefit Check’, which is available for free on its web site. This program supports German, English, French and Spanish, so that companies from worldwide can assess their trade fair plans for themselves. This software program provides easy-to-use, user-oriented features that help companies plan a participation, calculate the costs and feasibility, and evaluate the performance through cost-benefit analysis. The outstanding advantage of Trade Fair Benefit Check is that it can allow companies establish specific goals and objectives. It is interesting that the program suggests operational objectives and strategic objective separately, so that the users can establish more specific objectives and easily calculate the benefits in economic terms (in currency). Also, the participation cost is calculated, so that the benefit can be measured and assessed against the cost.
In the following sections, we will discuss what AUMA’s Trade Fair Benefit Check can do and how it can do it differently.

Benefits of AUMA’s Trade Fair Benefit Check

The benefits users can enjoy from using AUMA’s Trade Fair Benefit Check are like the followings. First, the users can figure out how much benefit they can expect from the exhibition and decide whether to participate in the event or not. It is very useful that it can help companies not to pursue big famous exhibitions, but to distinguish events that can provide best results to them and thus improve the decision making process and keep achieving the efficiency of exhibition participation. Second, it helps companies strategically and efficiently invest and deploy monetary, human and other resources based on cost-benefit analysis results. For example, a company between a couple of trade shows in the second half, can select a most cost-effective one and focus its resources with confidence. Lastly, it can figure out the participation performance through assessment process, and base the future exhibition plans and strategies on the findings and results. Especially for SMBs, the fact that they participated in a big trade fair can make them think they obtained significant results. However, if the established objectives were not achieved compared to the investment, it was nothing but a loss of time and money.

Complex Calculation Simplified to 3-Phased Process
Cost-benefit analysis is not familiar to companies, especially start-ups or SMBs. The Fair Benefit Check program, however allows them to assess their benefits through simplified 3-step calculation process. Once a user is asked to enter the volume of the exhibition (number of visitors, total exhibition area), then the 3-step calculation process begins. In the first step, the operational and strategic objectives are entered in separate entries. In the next step, the exhibition cost is entered. In the last step, the cost benefit is calculated and rendered based on the user inputs in the previous steps. Through these simple process of user inputs and a few clicks, users can conduct a cost-benefit analysis for an exhibition participation plan, and figure out the feasibility of exhibitions they are planning to participate in an objective manner.

Step 1. Setting Up Targets, Separately for Operation and Strategy
An extensive scope of objectives, or vague objectives can be an example of mistakes companies make most commonly in assessing the objectives and performance. To address this issue, Trade Fair Benefit Check allows users to set up operative targets and strategic targets separately.

Step1-1. Qualitative Targets ? Providing Specific Target Items for Quantitative Targets
Users can set up operative targets optimum for their objectives. The operative targets are divided into four sub-categories; contact targets, communication/information targets, presentation targets, and sales and distribution targets and each of these sub-categories has a set of specific target items selectable. For example, the communication/information targets sub-category has a set of specific target items including; 1) improving awareness of company/product/service, 2) improving image of the company or individual brands, 3) building media relationships, 4) marketing research: consumer behaviors, trends, product acceptance, etc., 5) enhancing qualification of sales staffs. So the users can set up a specific set of objectives, and therefore expecting more specific cost-benefit assessment. After selecting specific targets, a pop-up window appears to show the calculated performances per quantitative assessment criteria. Users can enter the number of partners and media channels they expected through the event. This process allows users to set up measurable targets and assess the performance against them. Also, the program allows users to convert the targets as economic benefits (expressed in currency).

Step1-2. Setting up Qualitative Targets ? Associating Intended Objectives with Expected Ones
After setting up quantitative targets, a process begins to set up qualitative strategic targets. In this step, users can figure out the relevancy between the objectives that are difficult to measure and the effects the company expected. Users can specify the relevancy as a percentage (%). Examples include probability of meetings between industry leaders through the event, positioning (benchmarking) through comparison to competitors, improved customer relationship through face-to-face meetings at the event, networking with customers/competitors, and visitors’ effective decision making. Clicking the <info> button placed in front of each strategic target item shows a detailed description. Also, users can add a customized target in an entry below the nine strategic targets offered by Trade Fair Benefit Check.

Step2. Calculating Cost by Expenditure Items
After entering the targets, users can calculate the total cost of a participation. The cost can be categorized as basic expenditure (booth, facilities, etc.), exhibition interior cost, booth operation cost (visitor management, interpretation, ads, promotion, catalogues, communication, etc.), logistics, travel and lodging, and other costs. By clicking each cost item, an entry is activated to enter the relevant cost. Users can thoroughly check every single expenditure item from basic ones such as booth rental, to miscellaneous expenditures including visitor management or tele-communication.

Step3. Quick and Convenient Cost-Benefit Analysis and Feasibility Check
After entering and specifying all targets and cost items, the user can see the assessment results calculated by the program. This calculation and rendering process is conducted based on the user inputs in the previous steps, so the users just simply check the assessment results displayed on screen. First, the cost-benefit assessment result is suggested, so the user can figure out how the operative and strategic targets and the exhibition plans are effective in terms of the costs and benefits. The conclusion section suggests the comprehensive assessment results that help the user figure out whether the exhibition is recommended or not in terms of benefits and whether or not the participation can lead to a good economic result.

Analysis Not Estimation for Long-Term Data, Not for a Short-Term Assessment.
Through all the processes, the users can simulate the participation performance and figure out it as numbers. Also, companies can avoid themselves from participating in events requiring them a huge investment with a less expectable returns. In addition, repeated use of this program, companies can compare their performance between different exhibitions or do a time-series analysis for a multiple year trending research. It is important for companies to analyze the economic feasibility of fairs and exhibitions in a long term perspective. Through these long-term analysis, companies can select and operate cost-effective events while making it possible to manage the performance in the long term.

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