Matchmaking in the events industry – the important role of networking, technology and those all-important human connections

3 December, 2019

New research from UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry, has highlighted the importance of matchmaking in the exhibition industry. The report, ‘Matchmaking at the heart of the exhibition industry’, highlights the vital role matchmaking plays in making those all-important human connections at events.

The publication is the result of twelve months of in-depth discussion and research, and incorporates the findings of UFI’s Matchmaking Survey 2019 and the views of industry voices. It covers both industry challenges and the various approaches used and provides research, insights and best practice examples to support effective matchmaking activities across the industry globally.

“Matchmaking is an indispensable feature of events, and providing matchmaking opportunities is a key ingredient in creating an attractive programme and successful event,” says Holger Feist, chief strategy officer for Messe München and vice-chair of the UFI Marketing Working Group.

“While there are many good examples, the journey to perfect the matchmaking experience continues. Developing matchmaking going forward requires effective management, use of all available technological enablers, and truly excellent organisation,” he adds.

The results of the UFI Matchmaking Survey are positive in terms of the numbers of participants who are currently undertaking matchmaking activities (90%) and who see it as important, or very important (71%), but the paper also highlights that there are obstacles to overcome to provide customers with a superior matchmaking experience.

Matchmaking is particularly popular in the B2B sector (73%) and mostly free of charge for trade show visitors (79%). The report highlights engineering/industrial/ manufacturing, food/beverage/hospitality and construction/infrastructure as the top three industries in terms of matchmaking, with the three most important matchmaking goals increasing customer – i.e. exhibitor and visitor – satisfaction (81%), efficiency of the trade fair visit (70%), and the number of participants (51%).

Among the challenges that need to be overcome, the findings identify the no-show rate of customers or too little interest on their part. All the same, the majority of customers that make use of the possibility of matchmaking are reportedly satisfied or very satisfied with the service (63%). Overall, survey findings confirm the importance of the topic, the progress that is being made, and the fact that there is still room for further improvement.

From physical, people-oriented approaches to more tech-reliant solutions, the UFI report highlights there are many roads to the perfect match, dependent on type of event and aims associated with the matchmaking.

“Like no other industry, the exhibition industry exists to facilitate meetings between people, and matchmaking is a key instrument to that end. Developing it forward requires management attention, taking full account of technological enablers, and truly excellent organisation,” the report explains.

Everyone in the exhibition and event space acknowledge that matchmaking is an indispensable feature and, in most cases, providing a matchmaking possibility is a key ingredient in creating an attractive programme and therefore a successful event. It seems that in most cases the industry is going about it the right way, but the mindset still needs to evolve as technology plays a greater role in how we make connections,