11 May 2015

There was an article published on the Event Manager Blog a couple of weeks ago that caught our eye, but also led us to question the overall tone of the piece. The article covers the subject of ‘confibitions’; what they are and if they’re something the events industry should be taking more seriously. Whilst the tone of the article is undoubtedly quite excitable regarding this supposedly new format in the events industry, we were a little more sceptical.

The term ‘confibition’ is a portmanteau word, fusing conference and exhibition together. The thing is, whilst merging these two platforms may be becoming more popular, there has always been a small expo element to conferences, so the ‘confibition’ isn’t necessarily a new trend – conferences are often funded this way.

The blog itself looks at how the events industry as a whole is converging more and more, causing the lines between different sectors to become blurred. With event tech evolving at the rate it is, it makes sense for the more traditional formats to evolve too – into new, hybrid formats that keep professionals and visitors on their toes. And so the mash-up of the ‘confibition’ supposedly came to be.

The problems associated with the more traditional formats of straight exhibitions and conferences are either a lack of education (for example at exhibitions, where the focus can lean more towards generating leads), and a lack of sponsorship (for conferences, where the driving force is providing event-driven education). It seems that merging the two, then, makes total sense. Exhibitors are able to provide an educational element, and conference leaders can provide the education visitors desire with a sponsored safety net.
We don’t think that confibition is actually anything new, but it may be becoming more popular – which then raises the question of how to best balance the two. Certain issues that need to be addressed include: the ratio of conference sessions vs. exhibitors; the possible merging of the roles of sponsors and professional speakers; and choosing the right venue for both of these formats.

Do you find that exhibiting at a confibition returns a higher or lower quality of visitor than a pure exhibition model?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of this format?  As suppliers, we’ve often found that a conference-led expo tends to have more homogeneity of stands because the build-up time is often more restricted.  This means that differentiation between brands can be more restricted – particularly with small stand sizes – which means we get to be more imaginative about how to best help brands make an impact and set themselves apart in a small space. We’ve got lots of ideas up our sleeves if you’re interested – give us a call!

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