Friday evening we got invited by Manafu to hear the people of CERF speak about what they were going to do to rescue the fair.
CERF is Romania's premier IT&C fair and it has been steadily losing relevance in an age where IT&C is gaining it. Congrats first and foremost to Manafu who is getting involved in all aspects of IT life in the country and adding value to anything technology related.
CERF, under the supervision of the new partners and following some research performed by Unlock, has decided to become more interactive and include some private meeting areas for B2B and some hand-on education with seminars and small events throughout the show for customers.
Probably the most controversial idea was to include an ECO section to the show which would focus on "environmentally-positive" technologies.
But first things first: I thought the core issue of CERF was that not a lot of people were coming by. This is, I expect, the only problem you can have as a fair because if you are not getting enough people in then you will not have revenue to put up the next one. So I question the doing of the research on companies who come to put up displays only. If the problem is that people are not coming to visit, we should be asking why that is. Two, everyone knows why people are not coming: because local tech industry has no experience in making a show of it, in putting up huge and interesting stands and transforming something exciting like games, new devices, new hardware into something that YOU CANNOT MISS. The fair is boring when, by definition, a fair is 80% about the entertainment value. As such the idea to have mini-events is not a bad one but it risks turning a FAIR into a conference which is not what a lot of people want to come see. Conferences are limited venues whereas fairs are big and inclusive.
One thought I instantly had was "why not teach people who come to display stuff how to make it grand and exciting, why not offer customizable stands, optional add-ons which would make the experience for the displayer and the visitor equally interesting?". The answer is simple, I know, investment is too big. Still I think that what the fair is missing is not more tables where people can sit at and talk, but more open areas where people can get excited till they shout :-)
communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.