Exhibition World Issue 5 – 2021 - Page 51

is confident that there will be continued support for exhibitions in the future . “ Short term , though , we have some headwinds with large companies ”.
Digital expansion As with all exhibition businesses , Emerald has been experimenting with a significantly expanded digital activity over the past 12 months . “ We ’ ve learned a ton in the last year , in terms of what to do , and quite honestly also what not to do ,” Sedky says .
Building on a portfolio which includes 35 business publications , Emerald has focused on services which can delight users who are looking to be inspired and find new things to discover , Sedky says . At the same time , the team has tried to keep a laser sharp focus on the core digital business activity of creating leads for its customers . “ We ’ re creating what I ’ m calling internally the Emerald Discovery Engine ,” Sedky says . “ What we are doing is just being maniacally focused on inspiring and creating leads no matter what we do .”
The company has taken one step further with its digital offering . “ At the very end of last year , beginning of this year , we thought [ about ] what we also need to close that loop . So not only is it about inspiring and getting
leads , but it ’ s also transacting ,” he says . With that in mind , the company acquired a business called PlumRiver in January and has integrated that into a digital marketplace product it is calling Elastic Suites . “ We are launching it starting with a couple of sectors . And then we ’ ll just scale that more broadly across our entire business ,” says Sedky .
In the Q2 earnings announcement , he told investors : “ Our recent acquisition of PlumRiver continues to deliver on our expectations with more than double the number of new client wins as compared to this point last year ”. The company reported revenues of US $ 3.4m from PlumRiver and one other acquisition in Q2 .
So far , what has worked particularly well in a digital format is the delivery of content in multiple formats . “ It ’ s been going well in terms of customer feedback ,” Sedky says “ and in terms of adding more people to our databases , which hopefully will convert into more attendees at our shows . That ’ s what we expect . We will be tracking that .”
What has not worked well , he says , is trying to copy a physical experience online . “ Things like a showroom have just not been very successful ,” Sedky admits . “ Our attendees don ’ t mind them ; they go
Left : What has not worked well is trying to copy a physical experience online , says the Emerald chief
Right : Hervé Sedky , Emerald ’ s president and CEO
through it . They ’ re generally okay with it . They don ’ t spend a lot of time on it , which I think is a problem . But honestly , the thing is the online digital exhibitors have not got a return on their investments . And the NPS is low .”
We close our discussion with a question very familiar to Emerald CEOs : where in the world might they expand ? It is the largest US-based forprofit exhibition organiser and has been for some years , but its business is almost entirely US based . Sedky ’ s response to that is “ while we are the largest US based organiser , we still have very small share of the US business . And so having this focus on the US is really important to us , at least in the short and mid term ”. Things may change over time he adds , although “ that ’ s not a big part of our growth strategy ”.
The Emerald CEO is more excited about an accelerated launch programme in the US . “ We ’ ve created this new group called Emerald Accelerator that is all about launching and we expect to be launching six to eight shows per year ,” Sedky says . “ That new group is now fully staffed . We ’ ve been able to attract some phenomenal talent . We just reviewed the pipeline with our board and it ’ s really exciting .”
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