Expo 2020 up ahead – and what that means for exhibitors

March 13, 2018

Throughout history, expos have stood for innovation, collaboration and progress.

Some of the most significant innovations of our world have been showcased through expos – the washing machine, the sewing machine, the telephone, the advanced electron microscope, the list goes on.

So it’s only fitting that Dubai – a hub for innovation and creativity and a major player on the international events scene – should host the next global expo.

But here’s the big question: what’s in it for you and your business?

So let’s answer that question. 

Why should you care about Expo 2020?

Here are the main effects that Expo 2020 will have on the Dubai events landscape, and what they mean for your company.

1. Expo 2020 puts Dubai on the map: Well, cements our position on the map, anyway. Dubai is already a major player on the global events scene, attracting millions of international visitors every year to hundreds of different events. The Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) alone held 108 events last year, to give that some context.

But Expo2020 is the next level. It is universal – about ideas, innovation and problem-solving for the future. Expo 2020 is about the world we live in and the world we want to live in.

Expo 2020 is about the world we live in and the world we want to live in.

One of the big consequences of that is status. It’s a question of credibility, of international perception. In other words, you can expect a dramatic future increase in the already-impressive number of events and conferences taking place in Dubai, and an increase in opportunities to do business on your home turf.

That’s a fantastic opportunity to reach an international audience, without the same budget or time implications of international events. Plus, there’s a subtle power dynamic at play, for international guests versus home hosts. With Expo 2020, Dubai further increases its reputation on the world stage, with customers who are happy to come to your town.

2. Expo 2020 puts your business on the map: Expo 2020 is many things, not least a six-month marketing opportunity. Visitor numbers will be unlike anything Dubai has seen before. Forget hundreds of thousands; we’re talking millions in just a few months. Expo 2020 runs from 20th October 2020 until 10th April 2021 and expects 20 million international visitors during that time.

Each of those is a potential conversation, a potential lead, a potential business relationship and a potential sale. And not just at the time. Sure, the prospect of so many visitors definitely conjures dollar signs (total receipts from Expo 2020 visitors is expected to hit USD 60bn) but we’re talking longer-lasting potential impact as well.

You’re getting millions more eyeballs onto your brand, essentially, and in exactly the right context of innovation and collaboration. It’s a huge PR opportunity, and a chance to broaden your reach considerably.

So embrace the hype and look for ways to get involved. Because Expo 2020 gives you a stage to share your brand story with millions of new people.

3. Expo 2020 creates scrutiny: One flipside of being on the international stage is intense scrutiny. From October 2020 to April 2021, Dubai will be the focus of attention for tens of millions of people worldwide, plus millions of in-person visitors. The spotlight will be on.

From October 2020 to April 2021, Dubai will be the focus of attention for tens of millions of people worldwide, plus millions of in-person visitors.

Which, as we said, can be a fantastic thing. It’s a chance to grow your business and cement your reputation. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Everything you and your representatives do will be under the microscope. Corporate snafus could be amplified one-million-fold. Things that might previously have escaped under the radar of public perception are likely to become talking points – an off-tone advert, for example. Or a disgruntled employee making waves. Or a minor workplace incident. Or a moment of poor customer service.

For your business, that means two things. Firstly, nip the prospective problem in the bud as much as possible, by making sure you’re running a tight ship. Your processes, people and products need to be beyond reproach.

Employee engagement is important. Make sure your people are happy, motivated and well-trained, and you mitigate the risk of people-related incidents when everyone is watching. Double-check processes are efficient and compliant, particularly those relating to HR and your products.

Secondly, expect the best but plan for the worst. If something does go wrong, the effects could escalate so quickly your potential for brand damage is considerable. We’re talking about good disaster management. Your spin machine needs to be in fantastic working order, essentially.

You need to know exactly what you would do in every potential negative situation, to mitigate the credibility risks. So you can enjoy, not dread, being in the spotlight.

4. Expo 2020 offers inspiration: Expo 2020 is six months of unprecedented inspiration. Good ideas are rarely born in a vacuum. Expo 2020 means countless thinkers and leaders from over 200 participating countries come together.

After all, the whole point of Expo 2020 is to inspire. To celebrate our collective ingenuity. It’s a massive learning opportunity, exposing us all to new thoughts and new ways of doing things. Expo 2020 has even made this relationship explicit with initiatives such as Collaborative Entrepreneurship, where large corporations are paired with startups to ‘create win-win situations for both, enabling them to continue to innovate, grow and scale’.

The point is, rubbing shoulders en-masse gives you thousands of different perspectives. And that’s a huge opportunity to spark new business ideas and strategies. Like, that HR problem you’ve been pondering. Maybe someone from Hong Kong has experienced exactly the same thing, and started a new employee engagement initiative that’s solved the issue.

Expos are the perfect antidote to a business world that often gets lost in competition and isolationism, where it’s easy to forget that the best ideas can come from collaboration. Expo 2020 explicitly acknowledges that with the main theme of connecting minds, creating the future.

Expos are the perfect antidote to a business world that often gets lost in competition and isolationism, where it’s easy to forget that the best ideas can come from collaboration.

Your business should celebrate this by seizing every chance to network. Or, better, by creating and hosting networking opportunities.

5. Expo 2020 shapes business direction: Collaboration can help spark new ideas for your own business problems – but why not think bigger? Expo 2020 offers a platform to discuss the big issues and questions of our time – given as three sub-themes: opportunity, mobility and sustainability. But how do we answer these questions? Can our business do more, or do it differently? What is our business already doing to support these goals?

By discussing these questions in such a large public forum, Expo 2020 helps us all realign to the wider global themes that impact us all.

The reverberations from Expo 2020 have the potential to completely reshape our strategies and processes, and crystallise our sense of purpose. That impacts everything from back-end processes, to advertising, to strategic business direction. This time in 2030, your business might look very different – all thanks to Expo 2020. 

Dubai taking another leap forward

Dubai only moves in leaps. And there have been many over the years. Expo 2020 is yet another – with potential to be the most impactful yet. But we need to move cautiously, to make sure we maximise the advantages an expo can bring.

With that in mind, businesses should be excited by Expo 2020 – both the build-up and beyond. It is an exciting growth opportunity, bringing international markets closer, encouraging investment in the Middle East, and increasing business reach.

More broadly, Expo 2020 stands to reshape the way we do business and redefine the challenges we all face. Which means Expo 2020 isn’t only a business opportunity; it’s an opportunity for progress, innovation and collaboration.

TGP is one of the Middle East’s leading design and production companies, focusing on exhibitions, events, interiors, graphics, and audio-visuals for various industries. For more information or to meet the team, please call +971 50 636 7774, send an email to hello@tgp.ae, or click here.