In our next installment of our #HeresWhy industry Q&A sessions, we interviewed Tom Cindric, Vice President at Informa Exhibitions. With over 25 years of experience in the exhibitions and events industry, Tom spoke about the importance of face-to-face interaction within the business world and what Informa is doing to attract young professionals through innovative programming.
Tell me about your background.
I just happened into the industry like a lot of people. I was a marketing major with a computer background and was looking for a job up in Boston and ended up landing a job as a marketing assistant with a publishing company that produces trade shows (Larkin Group). I brought their registration system in house and that’s how I started into the industry- running a mini call center and registering people and then eventually going to shows and becoming a floor manager. Almost 27 years later here I am, still in it.
If you were talking to a college senior what is the one thing you would want them to know?
The biggest thing I’d want them to know is that although our industry’s business model in regards to technology and instant information is evolving, people still like to be face-to-face. That’s our business. Many graduating students come out of school with a specific degree like in sales or marketing but not really wanting to work for a specific company or industry. With trade shows you have an opportunity to experience and someday influence entire industries, whether it’s by representing a specific show or working for a manufacturer that exhibits in the show. I never knew anything about that when I was in college.
What is the most important aspect of the exhibitions and events industry?
As an employee of Informa- we are in the business of creating market places. I run several commercial construction events for Informa so for us the trade show, whether its World of Concrete, The Water & Waste Water Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show or CONSTRUCT, is viewed as an important event that creates a market and creates economic impact in those cities. With regards to the concrete industry, World of Concrete starts the year for thousands of businesses. Whether you are selling your products to attendees or trying to buy products, we like to think of ourselves as the education ground for helping you do your business better, train people and learn about new technologies, solutions and products. Making the networking connections, from attendee to attendee is what is so great about the trade show industry. More and more, it’s not just concrete (no pun intended) and pipe and drape, it’s live interaction and education. Shows have to be a full 360 degrees to attract people. Attendees are doing more research ahead of the shows because they want an efficient experience. It’s like buying a car. They want to learn about it first then touch it and feel it and drive it before they buy it. I think that’s why a lot of us who are evangelists feel like this industry will never go away- we are creatures who socialize and that’s how we interact.
How do you measure the success of your shows?
As a for profit organization with shareholders, it’s running quality events and hitting our goals and budgets. As an individual who runs five or six different trade shows, success means satisfied and growing attendees, satisfied exhibitors and strong renewals. Do people value the show? Are they coming back every year? We find this out through our onsite selection processes along with on-floor surveys and post-show surveys (speaker evaluations, etc.).
Is there anything new or exciting developments that Informa is working on?
The biggest thing for us is continuing the live experiential things at our events (on floor education and on floor demonstrations). We try to reinvent ourselves and keep things new and exciting. We have a large focus on sustainability and all that goes into it. Because we run a lot of construction events we focus on safety. We also focus on how to attract young professionals and continually redefine who a young professional is while creating programming for them. You have to be careful because if you focus solely on technology only you may be alienating baby boomers and other generations that are not as technologically savvy. You have to be customizable to your audience.