What role does a company's online presence play and how can visitors find a trade fair website? Most of them come via type-in traffic or a search engine.
The basic concept behind the web design of messefrankfurt.com is to offer an intuitive user-friendly interface – for all core target groups. Target groups have their own access “for visitors”, “for exhibitors”, “for journalists” and “for organisers”. This enables them to find the information they need with a minimum of clicks. “You can call up the exhibitor search engine with a single click,” Kai Hattendorf, head of digital business at Messe Frankfurt, points out one of the most frequently used functions. In-depth usability tests were already run beforehand. And: “The results will be assessed at regular intervals,” says Hattendorf. “The structure will be adapted to current requirements.”
Many events of Messe Frankfurt are not accessible under a separate domain name but only in combination with Messe Frankfurt. “This ensures that domains are immediately available for new events,” explains Kai Hattendorf. And then there is no need for tedious negotiations or legal action with possible prior owners. Trade fair names like “Ambiente” are also generic terms. The reference to the umbrella brand (ambiente.messefrankfurt.com) makes it clear that this is an event by Messe Frankfurt. “In addition, this information is relevant for search engines.” This way no users are lost . Over 70 per cent of users access websites through type-in traffic or by using a search engine with a matching search term. “This speaks for the high recognition rate of our fairs,” says digital chief Hattendorf.
The website of Messe Stuttgart currently branches out into 45 separate event websites and a company page: messe-stuttgart.de. “The top priority of all websites is to address our target groups in a way that meets their needs,” describes Jens Kohring. “All users must be able to access their information as fast as possible,” the online project manager explains. Like in Frankfurt users therefore need to opt for one of the core target groups on the home page - either visitors, exhibitors or journalists. On the corporate site they will also find the option “organisers” and the general “company” link.
Most events of Messe Stuttgart have their own separate websites including the domains amb-messe.de, intervitis-interfructa.de and intergastra.de. These “URLs” are used by the project managers in public relations – e.g. for brochures and newsletters. “However, we direct these URLs to messe-stuttgart.de,” points out Jens Kohring. “We do this deliberately to strengthen this domain.” And the individual event pages benefit, in turn, from a strong parent domain. In general, Stuttgart Fair believes that its events are well-positioned under their event names and relevant keywords. “Moreover, we feature a comprehensive events calendar on our corporate page,” says Kohring. “With brief profiles of all our own and guest events.” And if this information isn't enough, the user can access the individual event page with a simple click.
Deutsche Messe, Hannover, sees itself as an online pioneer, as it secured the domain messe.de back in the days when the Internet was still in its infancy. “Today the primary task of our company website is to give you insight into what is going on in our company inside and outside Germany”, explains Hartwig von Saß. “Information about our events and job and career opportunities,” adds the spokesman of Deutsche Messe. “On messe.de users can find all the information and enjoy our recently relaunched layout.” The individual fairs are accessible under their names. “We believe that our products should take centre stage,” argues Hartwig von Saß. “If you want information on CeBIT, you should be able to find it directly on cebit.de.”
The same goes for Hannover Messe, Ligna and CeMAT. “This saves the user the longer route via our company page,” points out Hartwig von Saß. “Moreover, we can reach our target groups much more directly, which is of major importance in view of the ever stronger community trend.” However, the website is only one of several online channels alongside social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Xing. And the fair wants to know exactly how the respective users access the trade fair pages. At CeBIT and Hannover Messe over 55 per cent of all users type the event name directly into their browser's address bar. One-third surf the web with search engines. The remainder follow links on partner websites or social media channels.
In contrast to the individual event sites the company page messe-duesseldorf.de has very heterogeneous user target groups. “They range from guest organisers seeking technical information on our halls,” says Bernhard Wagner, “to local restaurant owners who want to find out the running times of our events”, lists the head of marketing services. “So fast access to information takes centre stage for our layout – broken down by target groups.” General exhibitor, visitor and press services, and the most important company details are easy to find. The fair calendar was placed on the homepage of messe-duesseldorf.de. “There many users will find answers to their questions,” says Wagner. “Without having to click any further.”
Fairs in Düsseldorf like boot, ProWein, EuroShop, interpack, Medica and drupa are the leading global events of their respective industries. “And the identification and pulling power of the brand names are correspondingly high,” says Bernhard Wagner. “It is therefore part of our individual brand strategy not to water down the brands.” The names are rather to be reinforced by using them only for the respective event in Düsseldorf. “By giving each event its own domain we ensure that visitors, exhibitors and journalists can find us swiftly and conveniently,” argues Bernhard Wagner. He claims that user behaviour for ProWein is typical of many fairs. Just over half of all users visit the domain via search engines, around a quarter through type-in traffic.
Those who were interested in the home interiors and lifestyle trend fair “room+style”, could “really join all the fun” on Facebook. A click on the page of Messe Dresden not only provided information but also an exciting look behind the scenes – including sequences of the press conference in the run-up to the event and images from fashion show rehearsals. Links to TV reports and articles in the press, exhibitor posts and photos from the fair halls whet viewers' appetites. On the morning of the fair important announcements were made for the day ahead – with the tongue-in-cheek command to “get up from that coach and speed to Messe Dresden!” The fair team had lots of fun posting their feelings and impressions online. Of course, the event also had a physical presence: At the fair around 11,000 guests got inspired by fresh home design ideas, young designers and regional artists. It all ended with a forecast that stirred up some anticipation on Facebook: The next room+style will be from 9 to 11 January 2015 (www.messe-dresden.de).
Author: Peter Borstel
This article was published in TFI issue 1/2014
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