Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Social Media in Asia

Lots of good data in this SlideShare Presentation from Ogilvy's Thomas Crampton. I'm delighted that he's going to join us for the UFI Open Seminar in Asia next March. Check out the web site and watch up for Twitter with the hashtag #ufitaipei

Monday, December 14, 2009

Harvard and BA on F2F

Now it does seem that BA is about to make it hard for us to follow through on its proposal to get face-to-face with what that great bastion of moderation and toleration the Daily Mail calls its "kamikaze staff" about to go on a merry Christmas strike. However, don't let that detract from this interesting promotion highlight by Fleishman Hilliard's Napoleon Biggs in a post title Forget Facebook, get Face-2-Face! BA is giving away tickets to businesses trying to build their activity through face-to-face sales and marketing activities. Of course, when you'll be able to use them is anybody's guess.

Dig into the BA microsite and you'll come across a report by Harvard Business Review called "Managing Across Distance in Today's Economic Climate: the value of face-to-face communication". As Brussels, only recently free from its straight banana crisis, grapples with the idea of adopting the WWF's proposed 20% reductions in business travel, this will come as a breath of fresh air to those in the events industry.

A couple of highlights from the HBR report's executive summary:

  • Virtually all survey participants (95%) said that face-to-face meetings are a key factor in successfully building and maintaining long-term relationships.
  • 89% agreed that face-to-face meetings are essential for sealing the deal
  • 79% said that in-person meetings are the most effective way to meet new clients to sell business
  • 52% said that restrictions on the number of flights they take for business would hurt their business

Of course, if the airline you want to use is on strike (or, in due course, out of business), it makes taking those flights a bit harder.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The virtual fairs are coming

UBM Asia Launches Virtual MBA Fair
The press release from UBM Asia has really set me thinking. I talked about it last week in Australia (thanks EEAA for your hospitality) and have been noticing that, 10 years after event organisers were panicking about the prospects of virtual trade fairs during Dotcom v1.0, there has been a real surge in events like this. Some of them (e.g. Red 7 Media's FolioShow and Expo Tech) have replaced existing real live events while others, such as this UBM announcement look like brand new, stand-alone events.

To me the technology is still pretty clunky and I don't like the Second Life style of the graphics some of the systems use, but that's probably just a symptom of my advancing years. It also seems unlikely that we'll see a wholesale draft from real life events to virtual shows but we are getting quite close to a tipping point where virtual events can take there place as part of the marketing mix, combining some of the convenience and cheapness of a web site with some of the interactivity of a real, face-to-face experiences.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

China Digital Trends from AdAge

5 Really Cool Digital Trends Heading to China in 2010 - AdAgeChina - Viewpoint

Great piece here on the AdAge China site which I notice has quietly gone "free to air" (it used to be behind a subs wall). Read the whole piece. It has all sorts of interesting facts to back up the claim that these five will be the key trends next year in the mainland:

1. Apple iPhone Apps
2. Online Games Will Continue to Grow
3. Mobile Social Networking - mobile almost anything I'd say, but they have a good point and some good numbers here.
4. The Shanghai World Expo
5. Augmented Reality - I'm hearing a lot about this at the moment and am not sure I fully understand it or how it will work. But, those out there on the bleeding edge are quite convinced that this is a really important wave and one which will have a big impact on events too.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Asia is where the action is

HSBC to Refocus on Asian Markets - Good piece here in the New York Times about HSBC's decision to move its CEO from London back to where he should be: in Hong Kong. He's not the only one: I gather that Fidelity International's Investment President Anthony Bolton is heading this way too along with Goldman Sachs head of global capital markets, Dominique Jooris.

What's this all got to do with business media? Well, two things possibly:

1. Asia is where the action is. It's been that way for a while, but this is very clearly the story of the next 2 - 3 years at least. The BBC recently reported the OECD's improved global outlook with the headline "World economies rebound but China set for best growth". And Hong Kong looks poised to take big advantage of that: property markets are booming here, back to almost record levels, and the mood is far more upbeat than either Europe or N. America.

2. The financial media based here should reap dividends from these moves: companies like Haymarket with its Finance Asia title, Euromoney plc with AsiaMoney and the various specialist titles of Incisive can only benefit from the moves which are being announced. Interesting that Incisive has just launched its new Professional Advisor title in Hong Kong with the now compulsory Twitter feed up and running on day one. I suppose all those bankers are going to need some good advice on how to work their own money harder.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Virtual World Expo

An interesting post here at Ogilvy's Asia Digital Map blog which feeds my current fascination with the evolution of virtual events and social media: Asia Digital Map » Blog Archive » Take a virtual tour of World Expo 2010 Shanghai

There is a real buzz beginning to build about the World Expo which is very interesting: the tired old cynics in other parts of the world who dismiss these things as something old-fashioned and not for the digital native generation may be in for something of a surprise. The numbers are staggering and the organisers seem well on the way to hitting their targests: they're already 30% over their ambitious sponsorship targets which is pretty impressive in this tough crisis year.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hu Shuli's Exit from Caijing...interesting commentary

This is an interesting commentary on the muddle at Caijing magazine, the crusading financial magazine closely associated with its editor Hu Shuli. Hu, in a much rumoured move, recently parted company with owner SEEC Media's chairman Wang Boming along with a sizeable portion of the magazine's staff.

Hu Shuli's Exit from Caijing: Mostly over

The commentary linked here at suggests that it was a good old-fashioned media power struggle rather than a life and death fight over press freedom as it has been portrayed in much western media commentary.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ogilvy On: Twitter for Business

This SlideShare Presentation includes the slides used in yesterday's very interesting webinar run by Ogilvy's Thomas Crampton and his colleague Brian Giesen. I was one of the minority who voted that Twitter was of most interest for creating buzz around events but that is clearly of particular interest for our industry.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Virtual Meetings Will Be Replaced by Live Meetings? | The Power of LIVE

There's been a lot of talk of late of real meetings being replaced by virtual events. Some organisers appear to have taken this route as a last resort to keep ailing events at least on some sort of life support. Folio with its magazine show and Hanley Wood's Big Builder Conference are just two examples I've noticed recently. The smart money, however, still appears to be on the combination of intelligent online strategies that make the best of the strengths of the face-to-face and virtual worlds.

That was what UFI's outgoing President John Shaw was saying to Vincent Everts at the Zagreb Congress last week and that's basically what this interesting piece suggests too: Virtual Meetings Will Be Replaced by Live Meetings? | The Power of LIVE

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Executive Webinar: Twitter for Business in Asia

Executive Webinar: Twitter for Business in Asia
Well done to Amcham Hong Kong for linking up with the indefatigable Thomas Crampton at Ogilvy and the Wall Street Journal for this webinar on social media. Shh. Don't tell him, but I'm planning to capture TC's digital black belt.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Keep the dates for UFI Asia Seminar 2010

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Trade fair industry in Asia expanded in 2008

According to the 5th edition of popular annual Trade Fairs in Asia report, jointly produced by BSG and UFI, the exhibitions industry in the region expanded by 8.7% in 2008 despite the weakening global economic environment.

For full press release, see our corporate blog, or the BSG web site where you can also find information on ordering the report.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The strategy is to be on as many of the e-readers as possible

Two interesting points from this clip:

1. Lighthouse Media's Marketing is a really interesting and aggressive competitor in the marketing B2B media space in Asia. It's giving Haymarket's venerable Media a good run for its money these days and interesting to see them experimenting with video as another channel. I wonder how they'll make money from it, though? Google isn't very generous with sharing its YouTube gains.

2. The FT's approach to e-readers, as explained here by Greg Zorthian, global circulation director for the Financial Times is very catholic. They're spreading they're bets across the whole e-reader world and who can blame them. Nobody at this stage really knows where the technology will settle although they can be fairly confident that it's not likely to paper in the long term.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Healthy and stable"

How many B2B media CEOs have been able to use that phrase this year in describing their companies' finances? Not many. And, in fact, the CEO who said that, didn't use exactly those words. He said "gesund und stabil" and the company in question is Deutsche Fachverlag from Frankfurt. The CEO, Klaus Kottmeier.

Thanks to Hugo E. Martin for his summary of their results. Brush up German, guys to read Hugo's post or the DFV press release. For those who can't manage it, highlights are:

Overall sales: up 2% at €135.7mn
Events sales: up 20.4% at €5.9 mn
Online sales: up 20% at €5.4 mn
Over-seas revenues: up 10% at €
27.8 mn

Print, of course, took a bit of a pasting and was was down 8.6% at €91mn. Mind you, most magazine CEOs would look very kindly on a publisher who brought a single digit decline in advertising revenues to a review meeting.

This was the first year that DFV is including results from its investment in Indian publisher
Images Multimedia Group.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Former UBM Asia CFO has new job

My friend and former colleague John Day is taking on a new role at United Business Media. He's taking on the role of CEO at UBM Global Trade, the division which includes the PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions and Journal of Commerce branded events, news and analytical content. Since stepping aside as CFO at CMP Media in Manhasset, he has been running RISI, Inc. (née Paperloop), a business in which UBM has the majority stake.

Prior to all that, about a decade ago now, John worked for five years in Hong Kong as CFO of what was then Miller Freeman Asia. That business, a boon to business card printers, has since been renamed CMP Asia and now UBM Asia.

This may not seem like the most auspicious time to take on a shipping and trade portfolio. As I sailed to the Philippines over Easter, the number container ships laid up in the international waters just off Hong Kong that we passed was quite staggering. But, John's timing may be good; there's only one way to go from where we are today....and it surely ain't down.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Campaign-ing in China

Our friends at Haymarket in Asia were a little slow to climb onto the online bandwagon. But, having firmly pointed themselves in a web-oriented direction over the past 12 months, appear to be charging off towards Internet glory.

Titles such as Media and CEI now have fully-fledged e-offerings which we are finding very useful. It was useful to see today (thanks to Thomas Crampton for this, now at Ogilvy and generally source of all that is considered wisdom on online media) that Haymarket founder Michael Heseltine's first love, Campaign, is now emerging as a brand with this new Chinese website.

Just to add a further Crampton twist to this. He twittered (as he does) about how good the Google translation of the new site was. Check it out for yourself. It's not bad.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shanghai motor show bucks the trend

It was looking as though motor shows the world over were going to be the biggest events industry victims of the economic downturn. The London show for 2010 has already announced that it's not going ahead, major exhibitors decided to skip Tokyo.

But then comes the news from Shanghai. Porsche is launching its Panamerica model there:

Note the comment on China's car market having overtaken that of the US this year. It's a scary thought but one which has auto industry CEOs salivating. More press comment here:

Wall Street Journal:
HK Standard:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pat McGovern on growing through the recession

IDG founder Pat McGovern gives an interesting interview at Mediashift about how his business is growing in tough times; the aggressive move online being at the heart of things in his opinion. There are inevitably a number of interesting references to China and India:

So have you launched any print publications lately?

McGovern: We're a global company, and in India print is hot, and only 3% of people have Internet access. The number of people learning English is developing nicely, and there are some other smaller countries where we have launched print publications. We launched ComputerWorld Pakistan recently. In the U.S., I don't see us launching print business publications. For consumer titles, in China, we publish about 20 print publications. We are the only international company able to publish magazines in China because we made an investment there before there was a prohibition on foreign investment.

There's now 450 million Internet users in China, more than the U.S., so the advertisers decided to shift ads from being 20% online to about 60% online, so we've seen a corresponding jump in online usage for our B2B titles.

McGovern also points to the massively larger number of mobile phones in India than mobile users to suggest that this medium may be more important than online as that market moves away from print. As regular readers of this blog will know, that's a point we've been banging on about for the past 2 years.

Thanks to Hugo E. Martin for pointing this interview out via a Facebook posting.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moving forward when times are tough

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs...

There are clearly advantages to being independent. As the behemoths of the B2B media industry run around savaging their staff and bemoaning their lost bonuses and withered options, it's good to see one of the more focused, conservative players in our business making a move.

TradeShow Week broke the news on its Twitter feed (ooh, very Web 3.0 guys) and its website that Diversified Business Communications of Portland, Maine has acquired a controlling interest in Hong Kong's Asia Business Events. John Bednall and Jonathan Goold have kept the company very focused over the 10+ years they have been building up the Restaurant & Bar Show. The newer Retail Asia Expo & Congress gives Diversified a second leg on which to build. The company's presence in Asia/Pacific has until now been largely restricted to its successfull operations in Australia, acquired from Allworld a decade ago.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Fighting in Jimé's army

United Business Media, like many large companies, has a section of its website devoted to persuading potential employees that it's a great place to work. It's nicely done and includes some testimonials from staff in various parts of the world.

UBM Asia is well represented with four former colleagues of mine from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Seoul. My eye was particularly caught by the entry from Sabine Liu in Taipei who says "Working for UBM Asia and UBM is like being a soldier fighting on various battlefields at once". We shall remember to save our smartest salute for General Essink when our paths next cross.

Just teasing everybody in the B2B media business these days, they're going to need all their fighting spirit to get through this year with the troops intact. Mind you, TradeShow Week in its 'the grass is greener over there' piece last week did single out UBM Asia as one company that seems to be doing better than some. It noted:

UBM Asia’s portfolio (formerly CMP Asia) also looks to have a good year. Key events, such as the September edition of the Hong Kong Intl. Jewellery Show, the All China Leather Exhibition, Marintec, Furniture China and Cosmoprof Asia are on track to achieve growth this year, according to the company.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pay per enquiry

The B2B sourcing specialists have long focused on the importance of reader response to tieing in their clients. Even back in the days of magazines and 'bingo cards', companies such as Global Sources developed significant skills in managing this feedback loop.

We read with interest then this interview at the JLM Pacific Epoch site with Chen Dong, the CEO of Shenzhen's I have to confess that, hard as we try to track all the online B2B activity in the region, this one had passed us by. Its claim to be "one of the largest B2B (business to business) websites in the world" is stretching things a bit; it has an Alexa ranking of around 7,200 and claims 2008 revenues of Rmb30mn (up from Rmb25mn in 2007).

However, take a look at what Chen says about their pricing model:

Our business model is different from more traditional companies that rely on fixed, annual fees. Our registered suppliers put RMB 5,000 down to open an account and we deduct RMB 30 from the account each time a supplier responds to an inquiry that they receive for free from our buyers. In addition, we offer a monthly package for RMB 390 that allows for unlimited inquiry response and annual packages for RMB 8,000, RMB 15,000 and RMB 25,000. About 30% of the suppliers who sign up for our pay-per-inquiry service transfer to monthly or annual packages, another 30% will churn after their first year and the remaining 40% will stay on as pay-per-inquiry users.
Read the whole interview. It's interesting. We'll be following this one quite closely.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's not all bad you know

Before we all start to commit ritual self disemboweling with a butter knife, let's not forget that there is some good news out there. OK, Japanese exports may be down 49% on February 2008. That's actually pretty bad.

But, how's this for a series of feel better reports?

  1. Vietnam actually eked out a 2% increase in exports says the FT. Somewhere else, they say this was down to strong gold and rice shipments (somebody's having some fancy rice pudding).
  2. Bloomberg reports that a respected adviser to China's central bank says that the country's economy "will recover strongly in the second and third quarters as a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package takes effect".
  3. Normandy Madden over at Ad Age China tells us that "China's ad market grew 9% to $27.8 Billion in 2008".
So, hurrah for China. Hurrah for Vietnam. I guess Marxism with special Asian awfully capitalistic looking characteristics is the way to go. Perhaps the new musical version of Das Kapital is for me after all. It's butter knives down, little red books up and on with the dancing shoes.

Update: More in the same vein from Marketing which reports that Carat is predicting growth in China's advertising market in 2009, admittedly an anaemic 4.8% compared to 19% in 2008 and an anticipated bounceback to 7.2% in 2010. This compares to an expected fall across Asia this year of 0.8%.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Davies bows out with barely a nod to Asia

There are suprisingly few references to Asia and China in Crispin Davies' final presentation to analysts as CEO or Reed Elsevier. In fact, search for the word Asia, and only one reference comes up; in relation to Elsevier's book sales.

"China" also generates just one hit, this time in reference to exhibitions where Davies says:

Emerging markets are becoming increasingly important in our exhibitions business. In the BRIC countries, we’ve made significant progress in 2008. In China and Russia we’re market leader, with Brazil growing strongly and the Middle East.
I think there are a few in China who would dispute his claim that they're market leader there, but it is certaintly a sign of the progress they've made in recent years that he's even willing to make the claim.

I was interested to see his comment that:

There is no question in times like this that having the leading show is a real advantage, with this sort of flight to quality and we’ve seen that, and we’re also getting strong feedback from customers in terms ROI. Customers are getting increasingly sophisticated in terms of measuring.
That is matching what I've been hearing from the organisers of the top shows. And, the comment on ROI and measurement ties in with a white paper recently released by BPA Worlwide which is worth a read.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tootoo dances off stage

I'm not sure what possesses perfectly good Chinese B2B online sites to choose names which sound completely half-witted in English, but quite a few of them have. Ninetowns is an interesting business with various arrows in its quiver. The completely daft-sounding is not going to be one any longer according to this PR Newswire press release.

Competing with the market leaders such as Alibaba, Global Sources and is not, of course, easy. Our most recent ranking of B2B media sites in the region showed that had slipped a further two places from 18 in February to 20 in March.

This sentence in the press release is very telling: "the discontinuation of the B2B business is not expected to have a material financial impact on Ninetowns' other business solutions". Ouch! Nice idea, but not much in the way of revenues.

Another one bites the dust.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blaming bad ideas on the recession

For a variety of reasons which would bore the pants of most of you, a jewellery exhibition in Delhi was probably a bad idea in the first place. However, as one of Tony Blair's PR flaks once told the world too publicly, a major disaster is a great opportunity to bury bad news.

So, no suprise then that Reed Exhibitions is blaming a downturn in India's jewellery business on its decision to pull the plug on its JCK India project. Rumours are rumbling around that Reed is quitting India completely. It's recent withdrawal from the RBI JV with Infomedia has fuelled the fire. However, we're inclined to believe the contentsutra piece that says that the exhibitions team is just pulling out of Delhi for now.

Perhaps they'd over-egged the infrastructure, but it seems odd timing. India is going to suffer in this downturn, but much less than most places. How badly is Reed hurting?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

China confidentially

An interesting move by the FT to launch its new China Confidential subscription-based website/newsletter in these trying times. You can get it free for 14 days before handing over any dosh. Editor James Kynge comments that "Through this website and newsletter, we aim over the next weeks, months and years to track and predict the meaningful trends that make China such a riveting phenomenon. We hope to bring to our readership of investors and business people every two weeks a collection of telling insights that identify the real trajectory of the Chinese economy, and its key constituent parts".

I noticed that my old friend Duncan Clark, the telecoms guru from BDA in Beijing, is given a column in which he talks about 3G in China and opines that "3G offers the potential to fuse China's love affair with the mobile phone with its growing addiction to the internet". You can also get access to an interesting BDA 'China Analyst Note' on the online advertising. That basic line is that "While growth is slowing from last year, we believe China’s online advertising market will still grow at a relatively impressive clip of 20% or so in 2009. More internet users and usage, continuing national economic growth, the growing influence of online media and the cost advantages of online vs. offline ads are all fuelling the sector’s development".

There appears to be no connection with the China Confidential blog which has been running since 2005. Competitors presumably include the China Economic Review.

Unless I'm being unusually thick (which is entirely possible), the FT appears to be rather coy about how much it will charge for this so-called "premium investment intelligence". With all the *ankers either leaving town or wondering how they're going to scrape by on the basic US$500,000 and no bonus (poor dears), we're not sure about their timing. But, you can't fault them for their chutzpah in trying in these conditions.

Update: I meant to link to Thomas Crampton's posting on this as he, as is so often the case, pointed me towards this new service. Even if Twitter did "out" him, he'll be a great addition to the Ogilvy team.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bumping along the bottom

I am not an economist, which probably qualifies me very well to speculate on the outcome of the current crisis. After all, the so-called experts have generally proven themselves worthy of senior positions in the weather bureau, and not much else.

There has been much discussion of whether our current recession is "U', "V" or "J"-shaped. I am sure there are other variants (e.g. "flat-line", patient dead or the "L-shaped recession"). Well, I offer you our own BSG Asia B2B Media index which tracks the stocks of Asian listed companies in the sector we track. If this is a proxy for the economy, it looks like the bottom of a "U" to me. So, the only point on which to speculate now then is when it will come back.

We'll go with China's premier Wen Jiabao on that one and predict some time next year. This isn't just because we think he's a marvellous man (we don't) or a brilliant economist (although I suspect he employs some). It ties in directly with the views of the exhibition industry worldwide. UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry recently published the results of the first of what will be a series of global 'barometer' studies, gauging the mood of the industry. Most of the respondents don't expect any recovery this year, but more than 80% of them expect to see it by 2010 or early 2011 at the latest.

We shall see.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Where is it hurting?

Our friends at Media Partners Asia do a lot of good and solid research into what's happening in the region. They publish some of it in their Asia Media Journal which is now available online. There are always a number of things that catch the eye there, even to B2B specialists like us.

We were particularly interested to see this piece on their projections for advertising sales in 2009: the headline number is a 1.1% decrease around the region. This, they say, is "the first decline the region will have experienced since the 1998 financial crisis".

What we really found interesting, though, was the country table included in the article. I hope they don't mind me reproducing it here, because it's really worth a look:

As you can see, this shows Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan hit the hardest but many markets actually recording growth including: China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. China remains the champ in MPA's projections although 9% growth there may feel pretty sluggish to the industry after 20%+ increases in spending in 2008.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It all comes together...

Gary Trudeau may be sticking it to the twitterati in his current Doonesbury strips, but, in the interests of learning what all this fuss is about, I have signed up. All in the interests of research you understand...nothing to do with fiddling while I should be working. Nothing at all....honestl....well, you know how it is.

Anyway, having added the Twitter app to my Facebook page (the students I talked to earlier the week looked incredulous at this....they obviously thought I was far too old for this kind of stuff), the following combination of Web 2.0 giants combined forces with an Alibaba ad. So, if you didn't think this was all relevant to your B2B business before, think again. It is...

Unlike the Doonesbury hero, Roland Hedley, I promise not to discuss my underwear in my twitter posts, but do keep an eye on it. It's reaching the mainstream...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Crisis, what crisis?

United Business Media has just reported pretty decent results for 2008 with continuing revenues up 10.7% and earnings per share up 6.7%. Of course, we won't be ungenerous and mention that you get a lot more pounds for your dollars from your US and Asian businesses these days.


The point we did want to make was that the Asian results in particular are very impressive. Revenues up 13% year-on-year and profits up 23.8%. That will, of course, make the hurdles the boys at CMP Asia have been set even higher to jump over this year. Good luck guys!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nervous US meetings industry

Two separate things have caught my eye today which show just how nervous everybody is in the US meetings industry these days:

  1. Firstly, I received notice from the social network (slightly embarrassing name, but quite an interesting site based on the Ning platform) that members are starting up a petition called "Keep America Meeting". They want to get 1 million signatures from people who think that the meetings industry is getting a bad press. Whether it's AIG sales people taking multi-thousand dollar spas at the taxpayers' expense or (inaccurate) reports of huge declines in visitors to shows like CES, the chattering classes are deemed to be giving business meetings and events a bad rap.
  2. Now, the Mayor of Las Vegas is, according to the Economist's Gulliver travel blog, feeling aggrieved at President Obama. Oscar Goodman is reportedly upset that, when Barry told bankers "You can't get corporate jets. You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime", people may have missed the last four words and decided that it's generally bad to go to Las Vegas. As one of the commenters on the blog rightly said "What part of "on the taxpayers' dime" did the mayor not understand?" and the blogger himself was certainly on the money when noted "Yes, Las Vegas's convention business will suffer during the recession—but that won't be Mr Obama's fault".

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

And the next China is?

Well, the general consensus last year was that the "new China" (i.e. the place where you can manufacture crap for US consumers at the lowest cost) would be China....meaning inland parts of China which are still substantially cheaper than the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta areas.

Hmmm. Well Black & Decker, while perhaps not manufacturers of crap, are reknowned as being amongst the most aggressive cost cutters and I noted, then, with interest this snippet from their Q4 conference call on Seeking Alpha:

We’ve seen cost increase recently in China and therefore we continue to look at India and Vietnam and other places. As you recall when we put those plants in these low costs areas we put them in such a way where we wouldn’t have the dramatic costs of shifting our manufacturing from one facility to another or even to lower costs countries.
I'm not yet convinced that those who think the next China is China are wrong. However, those planning the location of the next series of B2B trade fairs, web sites and other media services may want to take note and start hedging their bets a bit more. Some, I know, already have been.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Is 2009 the year for mobile B2B?

I have asked this before quite a few times, wondering in particular why the B2B world has been so slow to catch on to mobile. But, I'm thinking this really might be it. Three things have caught my eye (and my delicious bookmarks) in the just the past few days:

  1. On 30th January, Marketing reported that "The Financial Times has added mobile as a new channel through its website aimed at reaching out to a younger demographic". That must be me then, "younger", as I immediately bookmarked the new site at The killer duo of iPhone and Crackberry are obviously the key drivers here. The piece goes on to note "The site works for all phones but is optimised for the iPhone and BlackBerry which together account for over 60% of mobile traffic. A dedicated iPhone application will follow, incorporating more sophisticated graphics and charts and the ability to quickly share FT content with the integration of the address book".
  2. On the same day, MinOnline featured Steve Smith's Top Five B2B Mobile Sites. He also mentions the FT site, as well as those from WWD, AgProfessional and Mining Weekly. But, he particularly highlights the Bloomberg site (although claims their iPhone app is spectacular). I looked at it and he's right. It's the clearest and quickest I've seen. Much better than either the FT or Reuters' offerings.
  3. Finally, yesterday exchange4media in India reported that "If 2007 was the year of broadband penetration in India then, 2009 could well be the year of the mobile Internet. This year is set to see high usage of Internet via mobile". It quotes Star India’s Viren Popli saying, “The trend to watch out for will be far more content and services on the mobile platform. Second trend will be the launch of newer products and services on the mobile platform.”
Let's who, if anybody, in Asia picks up on this. The big players have, so far, been suprisingly quiet about all this.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama and the trade fair industry

He is, even in advance of Tuesday's inauguration, being credited with miraculous powers. Put a wand in his hand, some seem to feel, and Barack "Harry Potter" Obama will defeat the forces of evil and send us all off to some economic equivalent of Honeydukes Sweetshop to eat Bertie Botts' beans until we are sick.

I hadn't seen a trade fair industry twist to the new President's apparently miraculous powers until reading this piece from TradeShow Week. There is actually a serious point here: international participation in US shows did suffer badly after the security clampdowns which followed 9/11. Some actually pointed to that as one of the contributing factors to the demise of Comdex.

I was under the impression that things had improved. But, the TradeShow Week piece quotes Charles Olentine, executive vice president of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn., saying that "he's looking forward to how changes might impact the association's Intl. Poultry Exposition". More than 10% of that event's visitors are international and the Olentine is quoted saying that "One of the major difficulties the show faces in attracting them is visa restrictions".

Apparently, the industry is hoping that Obama's pledge to rebuild ties with the rest of the world will extend to making it easier for business visitors to get into the US (or even just into the increasingly miserable US embassies around the world). We shall see. I suspect he may have higher priorities. And, Bush's great legacy to American bureaucracy, the Dept. of Homeland Security has just made it harder for people even from the visa waiver countries to get in by implementing the new ESTA computerised pre-notification system.

It seems I was not the first to think of the Harry Potter link. In doing a quick search here, I discover that The Spoof has decided that the young magician would be the perfect nominee for Deputy Secretary of Commece. Given Bill Richardson's withdrawal from the top job, perhaps young Harry can simply step up and magic along some US exports.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thoughts from Nanjing

Just arrived in a very frosty Nanjing for the annual CEFCO meeting of China's exhibition industry. The conference, which usually attracts around 500 people, is titled "Forging Ahead Against Crisis" and it will be interesting to take the temperature of the industry both here in China and from around the world. I hope it's warmer than the weather which has warmed up at midday to 4° from a 'challenging' -6°overnight.

The mood won't, though, be much helped by the news that, according to the BBC, "China's exports have dropped into their biggest decline in a decade". They were 2.8% year-on-year in December while imports tumbled a disastrous 21.3%. This will widen the trade gap and make it even more likely that some of the new Democrats in Washington will push for unwise trade actions against China, further deepening the spiral. Let's hope not and that steadier heads among the Obamistas prevail.

My room at the Fraser Suites looks out over the amazing building pictured here which is, I gather, the Nanjing Olympic Centre.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Swing back to mega events?

Happy New Year. What a lazy blogger I've been. Ah well. I am, however, intrigued enough by the suggestion that Apple will abandon Macworld in favour of CES to sharpen the iGooseQuill and share a few thoughts (thanks by the way to Colin Crawford for pointing to this piece via his Facebook status).

Received wisdom since the dotcom crash and the demise of Comdex has been that technology events are fragmenting and becoming more focused and specialised. Apple's shunning of Comdex, CES and other similar shows for the single brand Macworld has been offered frequently (by me amongst many others) as the best example of this key trend. We wondered when it might roll around the world and hit big events elsewhere, most notably CeBIT in Hannover.

Is this something to do with the economic downturn driving people back to big fairs or more a feature of Apple's repositioning itself as a consumer products company?