Micaela Giacobbe Connections
Photo credits: Connections

TRADE SHOWS DURING AND AFTER THE CORONA CRISIS

Kongres Magazine talked to several organizers of boutique trade shows on the nature of their business, as well as on the recent Corona virus and its effect on the business, the prospects, and solutions.

MICAELA GIACOBBE from CONNECTIONS

Micaela Giacobbe is Managing Director of Connections, the international private community for senior executives in high-end travel. Micaela and her team launched Connections in 2014, hosting 30 events all over the world in the luxury, wellbeing, adventure, high-end incentives and the weddings sector. Micaela created Connections to be more than just a place of meetings. Connections has become known and valued for its human approach to networking, becoming a versatile network that adapts to the lifestyle of the mobile decision makers.

Q: What does differ your trade shows from the competition?

Connections is the international community for senior executives in high-end travel. Our calendar offers face-to-face, highly targeted meetings as well as insights and knowledge-sharing opportunities to deep dive into various sectors within luxury travel. We do not believe in speed meetings; all our meetings are enhanced with memorable experiences in order to fast-track the trust you need to build long-lasting business relationships.

Q: How do you market and promote the host destination?

Our events rotate around the globe and dependant on the destination, we work alongside our partners to choose the most local and authentic experiences in order to bring that destination to life. This allows delegates to not only remember the people that they met during the programme, but they also remember the destination through these specifically chosen experiences. In addition to the event itself, we run a comprehensive marketing campaign for our host destinations which touches all platforms within our network. We run editorial articles within our Connections Magazine and online blog which explore the destination further, a press campaign as well as feature highlights across our website and e-newsletter.

Q: What are the conversion statistics for your shows (conversion rate)?

We receive 100% conversion for our events as they are, by design, niche and highly targeted. Delegates are hand-picked according to the calibre of product or service, the needs and requirements of the industry, peer reputation and the potential business they will deliver.

With commercial airlines taking such a hit, another development may be in the rise …

Q: Many fraudulent activities online are trying to trick trade show guests into giving money and ID away by promising them data or other fake services. How do you tackle the problem of safety that arises with this kind of criminal activities online?

Personally, I have not experienced this, possibly due to the nature of our business model, but also because of the way we recruit and service our delegates. We know our industry and those within our community have been qualified and vetted through a stringent onboarding process. We operate a high-touch approach, and all event-specific communications are followed up on the phone by our client services team. It is also important to us that our delegates know all our team well and that we live and embody the “Connections Way” of doing business. We build strong and often personal relationships with our clients to ensure a high level of trust and reassurance.

Q: To which event in the meetings industry do you look up to and why?

WE have a very unique place in the market, so we look directly to our clients to learn what’s needed and required from the industry in order to help us evolve the business.

Connections
Photo credits: Connections

Q: Without a doubt, the current situation with Corona outbreak is one of the biggest challenges this industry has ever encountered … how are you planning to save your trade show during and after the Corona crisis? 

For some months now, we have been working on a brand-new digital product for our community and in light of these challenging circumstances, my team has worked around the clock to bring this launch date forward to 1 April 2020 – and no, this is by no means an April Fool’s joke! Granting access only to those decision makers within the Connections community, the new online platform allows members the ability to stay connected all year round and from any device, no matter where they are in the world. Senior peers in the industry will use this online community as part of their day-to-day, and can connect and chat with others to maintain and create new long-lasting business relationships, discover exclusive benefits and learn more through mentor and educational programmes.

Q: Are you planning to stay the same size or to expand or …?

I believe that there is a lot of change afoot, but equally this is a huge opportunity for those businesses who are adaptable to change and grasping the opportunities presented.

this is a huge opportunity for those businesses who are adaptable to change and grasping the opportunities presented

Q: By your opinion, how will the industry’s character change or develop after the crisis?

The need to implement virtual options will become more instrumental to businesses, not just for meetings but to share places and experiences. Those who know how to do it will succeed and thrive. For those in the luxury travel industry and its high net worth clientele, we may see a rise in request for private travel – jets, islands and residences for example. With commercial airlines taking such a hit, another development may be in the rise in domestic travel with country bolt holes accessible by train and car.

Q: What steps should be taken (on local, regional, state, political, economy level, etc.) in order to preserve the industry and its employment?

This largely depends on the country you live in as different governments implement different policies, which inevitably shape businesses accordingly. It’s a time to plan for recovery and resurgence however possible – but we really have to wait and see how this crisis develops.