How to Create New Business Models for Conferences and Exhibitions

Let’s face it: A lot of the traditional business models of conferences, exhibitions or trade shows are challenged today.

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Cost pressure and business travel constraints, obviously
  • Social media that allow networking and information exchange 24/7
  • Web technologies that companies can use to present their products rather than investing in big stands

You can add more to that list. Bottomline is: Conferences and exhibitions need to embrace change rather than flee change! New business models have to be found and new revenue streams created. Essentially, the value proposition of a conference or trade show needs to be constantly redefined and expanded, and new formats created that capture the audience.

The business models of conferences and exhibitions consist of various elements, not just the revenue streams. It’s also about the resources you have (or you need) to create new formats, the partners you need, technologies you require, the target groups you’re aiming at and a lot more.

There is a great technology that allows you to keep all the necessary elements of a business model in mind when you do your strategy process: The Business Model Canvas. It has been developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, two researchers from the HEC University of Lausanne in Switzerland – together with 470 practitioners from 45 countries!

In this video, Alex Osterwalder explains to Google employees what the tool is all about:

There is a great book explaining the toolbox and how to implement it, plus a website and an iPad app.

Here is an example how the organizers of Event Camp Europe used it to design the business model of the event:

I find this concept perfect to structure the creative process of re-inventing your events.

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