10 questions with… Gary Bender, Get Global co-founder

Get Global 2019 Prospectus

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Donna Kessler and Gary Bender delivered a second successful Get Global meeting and events exhibition four months ago. Now the dust has settled, and the feedback is in, LATTE spoke with Gary to hear how things progressed in 2018, and what tweaks are planned for next year.

With the 2019 Get Global Exhibitor Prospectus about to roll out (see the link below to register), we discuss with Gary if the show could be expanded to a two-day event, and quiz him about whether Get Global could be exported to overseas markets in the future.

Get Global Co-Founders, Gary Bender and Donna Kessler
Get Global Co-Founders, Gary Bender and Donna Kessler

Gary, for those that were unable to make Get Global in late July, what were some of the main differences in 2018 compared to the inaugural year in 2017?

This year we made several significant changes based on direct consultation and feedback from the industry. We had an overwhelmingly positive response from our inaugural year, but made a commitment early on to grow and evolve year-on-year, so we focused on diversity, growth and quality across the board.

Firstly, we changed the zone layout to accommodate such an increase of people, predominantly from across Europe.

Based on the quality of buyers we had last year (97% of exhibitors we surveyed said the quality met their high expectations) we had more senior executives from hotels exhibiting, and senior buyers coming from about 23 agencies from Melbourne; to put that in perspective, last year we had one! So, our word of mouth was certainly strong.

There was a good influx of buyers from Queensland to New Zealand; there are no hosted buyers in the program, just genuine event buyers with budgets. And no hosted buyer programs means no prescheduled appointments, so the connections made were genuine. Get Global is a show for people who want to have a chat, talk B2B and get real business done their way. There are no schedules, so they can come for an hour or they stay all day.

This year we also introduced the Inspiration Corner, an education platform on the show floor. Noise-cancelling headphones were provided so as not to disturb business discussions. There were a plethora of prizes given away – over $200,000 in prizes. It was crazy!

Other changes we made based on feedback included more theming, in-zone catering, education sessions and bars open at midday, all designed to keep buyers on the show floor.

So why did you and Donna come up with the concept? Was there a void?

Yes! Donna and I have been active participants on the industry for most of our lives – I’m a buyer, I’ve attended many trade shows over the past 30 years; Donna, as a seller, has exhibited at many – and we wanted to create the type of show that we would want to attend.

We felt the industry was despondent with the current Australian MICE tradeshow landscape, seeking more return on their investment and quality buyer engagement. They were crying out for a change or an alternative, so over a few wines … Get Global was formed!

The challenge was to create a show that had a unique point of difference. It had to be central and accessible and had to be where the greatest market was. We only offer international product, and we don’t have prescheduled appointments or time restrictions, allowing the best opportunity for solid B2B meetings.

In fact, we felt everything needed a shake-up! We wanted an open-plan layout to create a warm inviting atmosphere. We wanted to make it easy for exhibitors: no costly booth builds to worry about, just bring your device and get ready to do business. We wanted to create an even playing field and make the community accessible and affordable, and we had to remove distractions so efficient meetings can take place – all in a single day.

You’ve already announced the date for next year’s Get Global will be held on Friday 26 July 2019. Will it be in the same venue within the ICC, or are you looking at going bigger?

In 2019 there are some new and exciting changes, and because we’ve run focus groups and listened to the industry, we know it’s going to be even bigger and better than before. But, we’re focused on quality so growth will be sustained, and The GALLERY remains the location for us. In fact, a whopping 97% of respondents to our survey told us it was the correct location, so we’re giving our participants what they want.

We’ll keep this unique venue for another year even though we know space will sell out quickly, to provide the right environment to facilitate quality business.

Are Donna and yourself considering moving Get Global to a multi-day event, to enable more visitors?

Possibly, but that will depend entirely on what our industry needs from Get Global. We have a range of options including spreading the show over two days, but only if the standard of meetings remains high enough to warrant two days out of the office for our time-poor delegates.

Why do you think Get Global has been so successful in its previous two years?

Because the format works for both our buyers and exhibitors.

Our exhibitors love the fact that it’s a purely international show, and there is no disruption from domestic products. And, our highly qualified buyers chose to make their own way to the show ready to enjoy their time, without being told who to meet with or responding to a buzzer to move on.

Plus, it’s easy for them. We are conscious of making the show sustainable, so we created a simple but powerful app that avoids paper wastage and encourages immediate connections, we’ve kept exhibitor packages all-inclusive and fuss-free, and removed any distractions that might take people off the show floor so that everyone is in the same place, at the same time to make the best use of their time.

What are your criteria for a buyer? And do you screen the list?

We do screen the buyers, and we screen diligently. Both Donna and I review the registrations and personally confirm them, and we have open communication with exhibitors who provide feedback on the buyers present at the show.

Unlike many other trade shows, we actively avoid allowing suppliers (that do not pay to exhibit) to wander the floor as a visitor. Only high-quality suppliers as registered exhibitors will be allowed entry. Our attendee numbers are genuine … now that’s unique!

Any destinations that haven’t exhibited in the past two years that you really want to target for Get Global going forward?

As a truly global show, we don’t aim for balanced international representation, we deliver it.

Every year brings new exhibitors, so to balance growth we’d like to see more of South America, Central America and Canada, Europe and the UK.

We would like to see more exhibitors out of less publicised destinations that our buyers want to learn about: Eastern Europe or emerging economies. Though it’s a long way to come, the buyers are worth it, and as a one-day show they can tee up other sales meetings around Get Global on the Friday and maximise their time in Australia.

Is the Middle East region on your radar for 2019?

There’s always interest in the Middle East. It is a market we would like to see more of, and we feel people need to be informed about the new and exciting products, hotels and services on offer. As we say, “if they don’t show they won’t know!”

Could the Get Global model be exported, maybe to New Zealand? And would you look at another city beyond Sydney in the future?

Sure, why not? We’ll take the show where the audience is! China, Southeast Asia, on a wider scale, wherever there is the attendance to support the exhibitor’s ROI.

Donna and I have discussed moving this from Sydney to Melbourne or to somewhere else. That could be an opportunity further down the track, but for the moment we are happy in Sydney.

You’ve now come out with the 2019 Get Global Prospectus. Can you tell me more about it and what are the key dates for buyers and exhibitors? And are there any changes or new partnerships?

After consultation with our industry peers, exhibitors and buyers, we’ve made some exciting changes that will really enhance the exhibitor opportunity and experience.

But the message was clear: The Get Global format is a refreshing change the industry needed, so don’t change too much overall. A tweak here and there.

We listen and make changes. That’s the Get Global difference. Get ready for more Get Global action with announcements coming out soon.

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