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More Recession-Resistant B2B Opps: Appointment Events

A discussion about new models for B2B event would be incomplete without a look at appointment events. I’ve seen an up-trending in two appointment formats: 1. The pure play appointment event. At these events, sponsors pay for, and are guaranteed a certain number of one-on-one meetings with potential clients. 2. The speed-networking approach, where an attendee and sponsor are brought together at a pre-existing event by the organizers.
1. The pure play appointment event: Min’s B2B recently ran an interesting article on appointment events, featuring Questex’s Mclean Events. As with the executive roundtables, this format is well-suited for tough economic times. Once you develop sponsorship support, you begin the work of rounding up attendees. Exhibitors get what they pay for, everyone should be happy. I think that Richmond Events was the first to attempt this on a large scale, their unique twist being that events are held on cruise ships, increasing the attractiveness for attendees, and reducing the likelihood that attendees will “skip out” on their appointment commitments.
2. Speed-dating or speed-networking has been implemented at a number of events that I’ve produced. It usually involves vendor/attendee, attendee/attendee, and even vendor/vendor meetings of several minutes. In a less formal implementation that has been called “tech tours” or “booth tours” a group of attendees is led by a tour guide from booth to booth to see a presentations pre-selected exhibitors.
Here’s the problem: This format requires a commitment of time and resources by event producers, and the result is essentially just a marginal value-add for participants, and has not been successfully monetized by event producers. I would counter that unless you can list ten or more marginal value adds at your traditional trade show, you’re probably on the downslide.
Here’s the opportunity: Social networking, Twitter and other comm tools create the opportunity to try new types of appointment events, informal meetings, meetups, flashmobs—whatever. These events can create value for participants and a living for event producers. There needs to be a more intensive application of imagination and experimentation to discover successful new memes.

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