Trends & Features

Why live events are essential despite the online boom

About seven years ago I was working for the second largest exhibition organiser in the world and was worried I would soon be out of a job!

The internet revolution was in full swing; on-line media was (supposedly) killing off print media and surely the exhibition industry would be next! As a company, we spent loads of time and money evaluating virtual exhibitions and trying to create digital environments that replicated our live events.

We developed our own technology facility and ran about 50 virtual events in that first year with some pretty average results! OK we made a few quid, but the customer feedback was very poor and we could never effectively replicate the live experience on-line.

Fast forward to now and there are only a very small number of virtual events still in existence and most of the big media companies have changed their strategy to focus on live events. The live events market is still growing at a significant rate and is showing no signs of slowing (PE investment has already doubled YOY for the first half of 2018.)

So why is the market so robust in the face of this digital revolution? My view is that it is because people value a face-to-face engagement and they are using the different mediums available to buy in different ways. The one thing that the internet can’t replicate is the trust and experience of a face to face customer engagement. The average visitor spends 5.5 hours at a live event so this provides a much bigger window of opportunity to your customer and an opportunity to engage in a different way.

Here are a few key stats from Facetime about exhibitions:

• 93% of marketers and business directors feel face-to-face marketing to be the most persuasive media channel.

• 76% of visitors at B2B and B2C exhibitions make new purchasing decisions and have existing ones reinforced

• Perception of the quality and value of your brand, product or service is improved by 21% after visitors experience you at a show.

Getting face to face with customers works! Spending more time with customers provides an opportunity to upsell, reinforce brand benefits and to educate your buyer. But even more than that, not being at an industry event can actually help erode your brand! According to Facetime: The perception of a brand that is not represented at an event actually deteriorates by 5%. This is true even for extremely well-known or global brands.

Now let’s not get carried away and invest all of our marketing budget just in live events! Some companies are also showing phenomenal sales from digital channels – just last year, Nike saw online sales double in two years to more than $2 billion.

Equally, print marketing in magazines like this one is making a comeback and marketing to discrete community groups like UKRunChat and RunMummyRun is experiencing phenomenal growth Most marketing luminaries recommend blending a range of channels with a cohesive message in order to achieve the best results and I think that is probably the right path to take. For those of you who take this approach and are interested in face-to-face events, I’d strongly recommend visiting which gives free support and advice about getting the most out of live events. Mike Seaman is the Managing Director of Raccoon Events and has over 15 years’ experience organising events across the globe.

To find out more about our events please contact

If you are in the running industry, here are some important dates for your diary:

Thursday 17 Jan 2019
• VIP networking evening (Birmingham)

Friday 18 Jan 2019
• The National Running Conference (Birmingham)
• Community Catch Up

Saturday 19 Jan 2019
• The National Running Show day one
• Run show party with special announcement

Sunday 20 Jan 2019
• The National Running Show day two Saturday 22 June 2019
• B2C event – we have something new for you!

Sunday 23 June 2019
• B2C event – we have something new for you!

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