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How can an Exhibition Define and Distinguish its Visitors

Every day, all across the world, hundreds or may be thousands of industry trade fair and exhibitions take place. Each of these events attracts visitors in varying numbers from few hundreds to few thousands. These visitors can be clubbed very simply into a group or groups like managers, presidents CEOs/CTOs or middle level and senior level executive from a particular industry. But if we look closely, this group can be very diverse and dynamic. In the discussion below I am trying to bring out this very diverse or dynamic nature of these MICE travelers who are part of these exhibitions as visitors or exhibitors. We will look at what they represent in any particular exhibition and how this representation defines, groups and differentiate them.

Whatever the kind of events, people attending these show certain professional characteristics associated with them, certain aspects or quality. These characteristics are not just one or two but few, and each type of event reveal certain types of these characteristics. This also says that one single individual can attend different events but will always represent different set of his or her characteristics in these different events.

MICE travelers or visitors to an exhibition always attend events in certain capacities and play certain role. The type of event will again define their capacity type. People attend events either in business or professional capacity, or in personal capacity and for personal reasons. Sometimes it might be both. MICE events being industry events, focused on business generation, business promotion and business networking attracts people in their professional capacities only. Their capacities related to such business events are more than one out of which the first one can be called or termed as their positions in an organization. In what capacity do they represent their organizations. Added to this is another capacity or role which is the capacity to take decisions. Under these two capacities they could play the role of an observer and intermediary for superiors; networking with peers; or to take decisions regarding business generation or generating sales lead. The decision making capacity and business generation role is usually attached with higher positions but in some cases and sometimes it can be specially granted to individuals where it is not generally a part of their position. Visitors can be CEO/CFOs/CTOs of a company; Presidents and Managing Directors; General Managers or managers; Marketing Heads or heads of other departments; and they could also be engineers or technical officers or marketing officers.

The same set of capacities and roles are also attached to the exhibitors in a fair or exhibition. The exhibitors, mostly, are from middle level to senior level positions. They are also representing their organizations and their roles are specifically to get or generate business or at least attract some prospective customers and do the networking. They have authorities to generate business or sales, they have the entire product or service know how, have the authority to negotiate on various terms of sales. They would usually be from marketing or product department and people who are closer to the product, services or technology being exhibited.

The positions of people attending exhibitions as exhibitors or visitors could also vary and depend upon reputation of the exhibition, whether it is organized at international, national or local, and other factors also.

Secondly, as they also represent companies and specifically certain types of companies which are engaged in certain particular type of business or businesses, they also represent particular and certain types of business activities like manufacturing, trading, supplying or sourcing, etc. These activities are a part of various industries, but may differ from industry to industry as they require different products or services, different skills sets, etc.

So, finally the visitors are also representing different industries. Which type of industry or industries they represent depends upon the sector focus of exhibitions and the coverage of the event. Many sectors like automobiles, airlines, shipping or agriculture are very wide and involve many industries. Automobiles is not only about vehicle manufacturing but also component manufacturing, which are wide ranging from tyres and seats to engines and engine parts to vehicle doors and windows to electronics. Airlines and shipping are much wider and involve service industries also. Similarly in agriculture there are industries such as farming and agriculture; seeds and fertilizers; agriculture equipment; cold storage; technology and ancillary services; and more. Within these branches of the industry, there would be growers of crops and plants; manufacturers of fertilizers, equipment and other products; marketing companies and various service providers; storage and trading companies. An automobiles, airlines, shipping or agriculture exhibition could focus on one or more than one related industries within these sectors.

And so, although there would be many CEOs, presidents or managers visiting an exhibition, they would not only be representing a particular an organization but also certain type of company like a manufacturing, trading or service organization. Then, the types of organization they would be representing would not only be just manufacturing, trading or service organizations but manufacturers, traders or service providers operating within a particular industry or industries of some broad sector. Hence any exhibition can be a very rich mix of positions or titles, organizations, line of businesses, and types of industries.

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