Hakan Gershagen reflects on 45 years of exhibition experience and the evolution of the industry as we know it today
(Article written for Exhibition World magazine, April 2018)
“When I started out on my first exhibitions industry job in 1973 as an outsider and entrepreneur, the front of the sales brochure in my hand showed a photo of the venue and inside, the shows we sold. And B2B, B2C, hi-tech or low-tech, boat show or antiques fair; they all had the same square metre price. There was hardly any marketing.
“So I asked one of the MDs in Sweden about this particular show: 'what is the target group of visitors for this?'. He looked at me as though I was coming down from the moon; and eventually said: ‘well it's those who will come isn't it?’.
“No vision of community, or the industry for whom we are going to put an event together. It was about selling square metres to exhibitors pure and simple. Whoever came to the show became, almost by coincidence, the target group.”
“Today things are the other way around. Everybody understands – as with publishing – that exhibitions start by satisfying the visitors.”
The global exhibitions landscape has changed a great deal in the past half century. Much of what we take for granted evolved during this period and few people in our industry have such knowledge of this evolution, or the European exhibition industry, as Håkan Gershagen.
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