With valuable education sessions on and off the show floor and networking sessions primed for idea sharing, Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition offers attendees a wealth of information they can take straight to their organization. Like the exhibition and event industry, the attendee make-up of Expo! Expo! is rich in diversity and always evolving. Here, IAEE speaks with Mathys Taekema, Business Development Manager at RAI Amsterdam, and member of the Expo! Expo! Advisory Committee, who shares how he makes the most of the valuable information he receives from Expo! Expo! each year as a venue and as a show organizer.
Why do you attend Expo! Expo!?
I attend Expo! Expo! for several reasons. The first reason is that my company RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre has a booth on the expo floor. At this booth, I am promoting the destination Amsterdam and of course, our venue. During my time on the booth and at the many networking events, I have the opportunity to meet a lot of intriguing people who might be interested to organize future exhibitions and events in Amsterdam.
Also, Expo! Expo! is a great event to meet existing U.S. clients once a year. Besides exhibiting and networking, the event is also great to develop your Industry knowledge. I attend the education sessions and the on-site CEM courses at Expo! Expo!.
In October 2016, RAI Amsterdam became a co-owner of IBEX (International Boat Builders Exhibition and Conference). Since RAI Amsterdam owns a venue AND is a co-owner of IBEX, you have an interesting perspective on the exhibition industry. Can you explain the unique position of being an owner of a venue and a tradeshow? And what key benefits do you get by attending Expo! Expo!?
Indeed, RAI Amsterdam has the unique position of owning a venue, but it also ‘’owns’’ the expertise of organizing great consumer and trade shows for decades. RAI organizes renowned, market-leading international business-to-business (B2B) trade shows. We’re organizing 25 of our own titles in several brands such as professional cleaning, water technology and horticulture in the Netherlands and globally so it makes sense to share this kind of expertise to the U.S. market by attending Expo! Expo!.
Coming from a venue standpoint, what insights have you brought to the table to make IBEX successful? And did you implmenet any insights from Expo! Expo! in your business plans?
The years of experience in the international marine leisure market with a large agent network adds to the international flavor of the show, as well as the expertise on the venue’s capabilities. In my role as Business Development Manager, I’m not responsible for the business plans for our own shows. However, we’re currently in the middle of a reconstruction of the two divisions – Convention Centre and Exhibitions. With this reconstruction, we’re expecting these two divisions to work closely together.
What I learned from Expo! Expo!, such as planning an exhibition will be helpful in this organizational rebuilding and can provide new ways for the two divisions to work better together. Especially since we’re working more with exhibition organizers in partnerships. Sometimes, there are interesting overlaps between being a venue and owning a show, which results in good opportunities.
At last year’s Expo! Expo! in Anaheim, you attended as an exhibitor. How would you describe your experience on the show floor?
We had a good show and picked up some new leads. At our booth, we invited the attendees to play a game of “Throw the Can.” Everyone was very engaging and enthusiastic about this, which resulted in a great atmosphere and some interesting conversations.
The best thing that happened at Expo! Expo! was an attendee walked up to me, handed me her business card and literally said to me, “Here’s my business card. Send me an email when you’re back in the office because I want to organize an event in your venue!” We’re currently working with her on the Request for Proposal (RFP).
Prior to exhibiting on the show floor, you took the CEM courses: Floor Plan Development and Exhibition and Event Sales. What were the key takeaways for you and how did you apply them at RAI Amsterdam?
Although my role at RAI Amsterdam does not include a hands-on approach to organizing a show, what I learned in the CEM courses was extremely fascinating for me. Being in the same room with so many industry professionals, who are all organizing different shows gave me plenty of insight into how they work, think, sell and plan their shows. These insights have helped me understand the show organizer thought process, which has resulted in a better way of working with show organizers to produce a successful event.
Were there specific education sessions that you attended in Anaheim that really resonated with you? If yes, please tell us how you applied what you learned.
I attended an interesting session, Event Intelligence on the Show Floor: Using Data to Improve Exhibitor Performance, which was all about lead retrieval systems. This session included a short presentation with business cases and an interesting Q&A session with Anna Knight, Brand Director, Consumer Technology and Licensing from UBM EMEA. Partnered with N200|GES, Knight explained how UBM has been using the lead retrieval system for a couple of their shows. This session made me realize how important it is to educate and encourage your exhibitors to be innovative and to use these kinds of systems in order to make the most out of the show.
Could these education takeaways apply to both an exhibitor and show organizer like yourself? If yes, how so?
Yes, most certainly this applies to both exhibitors and show organizers. As an exhibitor, you want to assure you meet your goals of the exhibition (number of leads, etc). As a show organizer, providing a platform where exhibitors can make the most out of their participation means you are doing a good job of fulfilling the exhibitors’ needs and potentially of having them exhibit again in future shows.
How has Expo! Expo! helped RAI Amsterdam as a venue and a show organizer?
From both venue and show organizer side, Expo! Expo! provides us a yearly platform to meet existing and new clients. Expo! Expo! offers plenty of education sessions, which are helpful in my day-to-day job activities.
Name an unforgettable moment that has happened to you at Expo! Expo!
Besides the great (business) contacts I’ve gained over the years, I believe the most unforgettable moments were the opening receptions in Los Angeles (2014) and Anaheim (2016). IAEE really knows how to organize a good opening reception with great food and entertainment, which makes it an outstanding networking event.
As a seasoned international attendee, what advice would you give to those abroad who have not attended Expo! Expo! or are thinking about attending Expo! Expo!?
I would advise them to register and attend the event in San Antonio in November so they can experience for themselves the value Expo! Expo! offers to their attendees. There’s really not a better platform in the U.S., where you have the opportunity to meet so many Industry professionals over a few days’ time.
Will you be attending this year’s Expo! Expo! in San Antonio? If so, what are you looking forward to experience and learn at this year’s Expo! Expo!?
Yes, for sure! I already booked my room at the Marriott Rivercenter to make sure I run into the right people during breakfast and at the bar. I’m very excited about a new idea, where we have to create an International Pavilion on the show floor. This pavilion will consist several destinations and venues from all over the world and it will offer a “one stop shop” for show organizers who are organizing exhibitions outside of the U.S. Apart from that, I expect to see a lot of friends again in San Antonio and meet new people on the show floor, in the education sessions or during the network events. It goes without saying that I’m also looking forward to the educational sessions.
Registration for Expo! Expo! is open! Learn, network and make connections in San Antonio at the “show for shows” on 28-30 November!