Stephanie Selesnick witnesses how a show took offline to online to enhance the experience, loyalty and sense of community.
Alibaba.com held their first US conference, Co-Create, aimed at SME’s and entrepreneurs interested in seeing their products come to life from a vision to realised sales and all the work that entails. Held at Resorts World in Las Vegas, USA, it was clear that the Alibaba.com in-house organisers had done their homework with excellent speakers, great visuals, clever, informative, and interactive activations on the small exhibition floor and plenty of Instagrammable opportunities.
With just under 1,500 paid attendees, the conference purposefully coincided with a new advertising slogan, ‘Will Meets Way’ featuring the photos of some successful entrepreneurs, highlighting their achievements by using the Alibaba.com platform to design, source and sell their products. The thought was by placing people first, platform second, it would better resonate with their audience.
Alibaba.com used the event to launch new additions to the platform, showing them off in the exhibition hall, taking visitors on a journey from design to finding a factory, to being able to securely pay for the product when delivered. My favourite activation was a set of boxing gloves where attendees go for a timed round, hitting many of the items that drive them crazy in the supply chain process. Talk about driving the point home!
A couple of the new features caught my attention, especially if we think of how these would help our exhibitors and attendees connect:
Smart Assistant – uses high-tech solutions for sourcing products from around the world. The client plugs in product requirements and the system provides possible matches. Also works for design development.
How wonderful would it be if all shows had a robust system of matching attendee requirements with exhibitors and sponsors? I know there are several product matchmaking platforms a few organisers are presently using – but not at this very detailed and global level. The designing feature was also pretty interesting, making innovation a lot easier.
Live simultaneous translation (via subtitles) – while holding a streaming conversation with factories overseas. The translations go both ways. Wow!
This tech enhancement is game changing. Think about creating and nurturing global relationships with clients regardless of what languages they speak – in real time. Unfortunately for us, Alibaba.com is not planning to share this technology with anyone soon.
Not new, but new to me is the Buyer Growth Academy – with free on-demand content for those entrepreneurs who want to learn to be more successful. They call it ‘mentorship on a mass scale’.
Some (not enough) organisers make online exhibitor education available on-demand (and in person). When done right, it works. And while you’re at it, what about adding on-demand sessions for the first-time visitors on how to attend your expo?
All in all, for an event conceived and executed in under a year, Co-Create delivered. It took the offline to online to enhance the future online experiences while deepening loyalty and community. Well done.