Over the last few decades there has been a rise in international event expansion. Organisers are eager to replicate or 'geo-clone’ their events outside of the original mother brand, because the practice can expand the reach of their event brand on a global scale. This process also promotes the process of cross-fertilisation, where traits of a cloned event are incorporated back into the mother brand.
Importantly, these processes aren’t achieved by simply taking the brand to a new, international location — extensive research to determine whether there is a need for the event is key, and it’s vital that we adjust our events so that they incorporate the social and cultural norms of the local communities we target.
Aligning your global event brand
A successful global event will evolve in line with what is known as the 80/20 rule. In the initial period, a show that enters a new local market will be comprised of 80 percent international exhibitors and 20 percent local exhibitors, and attendees will be 80 percent local and 20 percent international. Over time, this composition switches as local visitors partner up with international exhibitors and new ‘local’ companies emerge. This in turn attracts a more international attendee base, as they travel across borders to seek out new and unique local products. At the end of the day, it’s important to develop a strong understanding of, and relationship with those in the local market.
In instances where these local companies reap the benefits of exhibiting at the cloned show, they will start feeding back into and cross-fertilising the mother brand, and travel overseas to exhibit at the original or other cloned shows throughout the globe. On the attendee side you will then find that visitors are initially more locally based, however as the event grows in size international visitors travel to the event to check out and source products from new suppliers.
The formula for a successful geo-clone
A commercially-focused organiser will only opt to take their brand overseas after a thorough research process, whereas association-based events will take their membership with them around the globe. The former are constantly looking at global economic trend reports based on their specific sectors, to see where there is a gap in the market. Once a need is identified, they will look to promote and establish the show as the meeting place for the industry in the new locale.
Identifying an audience is one thing, building strong connections with them is another. This is why organisers who take their events overseas must leverage local support on the ground. A successful geo-clone will only be possible when exhibitors have the support of people who are knowledgeable of the local market, and understand how the people operate. A local team will also handle the event’s marketing campaign, ensuring it aligns with social and cultural norms and resonates with the local population. At the end of the day, the event can maintain its heritage, yet it also needs to be relevant to local exhibitors and attendees.
Looking to the future, I believe these local teams will become more and more important, as the geo-cloned events, while still feeding into the mother event, take on a unique identity of their own. They will become true owners of their events and draw on their local expertise to deliver them in a way that attracts new and existing exhibitors and visitors each and every year. Organisers will continue to take their events overseas for years to come, however it’s important for us to remember to glocalise event formats so that they attract local exhibitors and truly engage attendees through relevant experiences that are educational, memorable and meaningful.