Highly targeted niche events continue to succeed while the horizontal "mega-shows" remain wobbly, so business media companies are looking at other ways to expand the events they produce. That increasingly entails crossing international borders.
IDG World Expo Corp. is one organization that is increasing its commitment to business expansion through acquisitions of niche events, as well as exporting its vertical trade shows to other countries. The company produces trade shows and events for the IT industry, including Bio-IT World Conference+Expo, LinuxWorld Conference & Expo, Macworld Conference & Expo and Real Time CRM Solutions.
In order to manage and continue its rapid growth, the Framingham, Mass.-based company recently appointed Dick Blouin to the new post of president of its U.S. operations, allowing IDG World Expo CEO David Korse to focus on international expansion. Blouin had been president-CEO of ZiQuest Inc. and also had done some consulting with IDG World Expo prior to his hiring.
The idea, Korse said, is to establish a larger international network for multiple brands. The company's existing international partnerships will give it an edge, he said. "We've got a network of partners around the world in 19 countries," Korse said. "I can immediately start launching [international events] under our banner because the partners are like a distribution channel."
When Korse got to IDG in 2003, he said, LinuxWorld-which was then produced in the U.S., China, Germany and Japan-was the company's most vibrant brand. "By the end of 2006, we'll be in 19 countries. ... We have international opportunities, and it has been more things than I can do at one time."
As part of the effort, IDG World Expo will kick off the following international shows in the next 12 months: Syndicate, which will debut in Canada in spring 2006; RoboNexus Conference & Expo, which launches in Germany next March; and Bio-IT World, which debuts in Korea in September 2006.
The international events market is a growth opportunity for business media companies, said Adam Gross, VP-marketing at The Jordan, Edmiston Group, a media industry investment banker. "We're seeing that across the number of [M&A] transactions we've closed this year alone," he said.
In a recent example, SOCMA (Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association) sold its Informex trade show to United Business Media in August. Jordan, Edmiston, which represented SOCMA in the deal, said the acquisition builds on UBM's existing chemicals and pharmaceuticals ingredients operations in Europe and Asia.
Gross said revenue and profit growth numbers for event businesses are healthy. "The event business domestically is growing very well. The idea is to take the event businesses in America and expand them internationally," he said. "It's about extending the brand. If you can do it here, you can do it there."
Korse agreed: "These days a lot of publishers and media companies are looking to events as very viable profit centers, particularly in light of the declines of traditional print advertising," he said. "The P&L [profit and loss] model for events is very attractive if you do it well," he said.