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by 이형주 David Lee Jun 10. 2020

A talk about Online Exhibition

Will it be a trend or a replacement?

Choi: Hello, I am Ji-hoon Choi, a CEO of Aving News Korea. This is the program called Aving A to Z, which covers all topics regarding trade show and experience marketing. Today I will talk about online exhibition as a new trend after the Covid-19, with David Hyoung-joo Lee who is a general director of Lync Factory, Inc. and also an expert in trade show marketing field.

Lee: I've been counseling many Korean companies which participate overseas tradeshow as a tool for global marketing. I am also now consulting 30 Korea unique venues - national museums, temples and traditional houses - for making them as special MICE facilities. I've been interested in AI so that I completed AI executive program and published e-book of 'AI,MICE. at MIT in last April.

Choi: Would you please introduce yourself for YouTube viewers?

Lee: Actually it's been about 20 years since I've been work in this MICE industry. I entered KINTEX on the first term of public employment, and it gave me great experiences regarding trade show and venue marketing when I was working for 10 years in KINTEX. After that I quit the job and decided to create new business regarding trade show and venue marketing. I published the book of tradeshow marketing for exhibitors, and also developed venue marketing services for convention centers, museums and cultural facilities combined with destination marketing. These trade show and venue marketing services are my two professional areas which I work for.

Choi: Actually many companies are under bad situation because of the Covid-19. Also we know that more than 90% of trade shows were cancelled and online exhibitions are booming up as a substitute. Could you tell me what online exhibition is?

Lee: Simply put, the online exhibition is an online transfer of off-line exhibition. As we know that people bought goods at offline shops but today most people use online like Amazon or Alibaba for shopping, so the same that companies utilize online exhibition platform using communication solution instead of offline business events.

Choi: What are the good things of online exhibitions?

Lee: As of good thing, firstly, I can say that online exhibition has no physical boundary. It means that we don't need to go convention center for meeting rather we can join and communicate anytime and anywhere if we can connect online. That is the thing preferred than offline events.

Choi: Then what are the bad things of online exhibitions?

Lee: The weakness is that there is no advantage of offline events. Actually I like go offline bookstore and exhibition because I can find unexpected books or products there, which I call it serendipity. But we should search exhibitors online and it is hard to find serendipity there. Secondly the real brand experiences including watching, feeling, touching, hearing and tasting vanish if we meet exhibitors online. We can recognize people's reaction directly if we see and talk with them, but it would be difficult to know how they think of our products if we meet buyers through screen.  

Choi: Could you tell me the cases which trade shows or exhibitions are held online?

Lee: I think the first online exhibition after Covid-19 was the Art Basel. It is an global exhibition trading artworks like painting and sculptures, etc. Online Art Basel had several figures we should focus on. Firstly it was opened for only 7 days so that visitors should register and connect only during the show period. Secondly it was designed like virtual gallery so that visitors could enjoy artwork in a virtual white cube. It gave visitors a sense of extreme immersion of buying artwork. And SXSW was cancelled but it showed all movie contents through Amazon online platform. Canton Fair, the largest consumer goods trade show worldwide, cancelled but it will be open fully with online platform, and it will give huge impact to trade show industry because its economic impact is enormous to show business and city as well. Korea is also very aggresive to react its global pandemic, so Bio Korea, the largest healthcare trade show in Korea, announced to open its online Bio Korea in May. KOTRA is also helping Korean SMEs to communicate with global buyers through online solutions like chatting and tele-conference systems.

Choi: Actually I know that there were cyber platform of trade show and business events about 10 years ago, but I couldn't find any successful story regarding this online solution. why these solutions were failed?

Lee: It was failed, definitely. Actually the essence of MICE business is to meet physically between people and products or information. But these cyber meeting technologies were focusing on technology itself, it means it was not connect people but showed its technical advantages using 3D objects or virtual reality.  

Choi: Then how do you think of the future of online exhibition? Is it going independently or together with offline events?

Lee: I can predict the future of online exhibition by tracking the way of AI. Many AI experts suggest that AI should be a partner and supporter for human-being, also it would not be possible that AI controls all human behaviors in the near future. Furthermore, we can find that Amazon and Alibaba now open its offline retail stores in U.S and China. It gives us an answer that online should be combined with offline providing brand experiences to customers. Therefore, exhibitors or show organizers would give addtional benefits to its clients using online contents, then they can meet more qualified buyers and pay attention to communicate with them in the show floor. So I assume this Covid-19 pandemic might be an unexpected chance to move forward for making better business environment.

Choi: Will online exhibition survive or not?

Lee: I think, in one word, it will survive. The thing is people have come to recognize that we have an online option in an emergency situation like this pandemic. It means online exhibition will find its own business model and also it could be combined with offline business for better solution even after the Covid-19.

Choi: President Moon Jae-in announced that Korea government will assist its economy by creating online business as a green new deal project. I'm also considering a way to support our show organizers by providing solutions for meeting and exhibiting online. Do you think it would be a help for them?

Lee: Yes, I've found many start-ups have smart solutions for enhancing ROI of business events. If show organizers can utilize these solutions in an online convention center created by a government or private funds, they can save time and money so that it would be a help to create smart exhibitions. Moreover it will be valuable not only for MICE business but also for every experience marketing fields as well.

Choi: Thank you very much for sharing your insight and hope to see you soon with another topic.

Lee: My pleasure, thank you.

Choi: Thank you everyone for watching our Aving A to Z. See you soon.     

* The original article was posted on AVING NEWS KOREA as below.

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