Suddenly, face-to-face mass meetings are back in vogue with an explosion of extremely well attended conferences and trade shows in the commodities space. It seems that there is pent up demand for getting out and about in the industry? In recent weeks, multiple conferences and trade shows have taken place in the commodities area including the Commodities People event in London and Reuters event in Houston among them. Commodities People will also be hosting an event in the USA this coming week. However, talking with various vendors and consultants, many are also attending more focused regional events around specific commodities like sugar, coffee, cocoa and so on. all are apparently well attended.
Mark Tredway, who heads up Enuit’s marketing, was one that I spoke with and he told me that globally – with the exception of China – the conference and trade show scene in commodities has opened up. He pointed to Enuit’s coming attendance at a major show in Japan in about 6-weeks time focused on energy where some 50,000 attendees were expected as well as E-World later in the month in Germany. “It’s really exploding,” he said. “Our sales teams are chomping at the bit to get back to shaking hands and building relationships after a three-year hiatus and even though I favour online webinars for lead generation, they are far more keen on face-to-face events.”
Mark also noted a change in attendees in that time pointing out that “some 35% of attendees are in the 25-35 age range (millennials) and they do seem to have decision making powers when it comes to ETRM selection,” he told me. “We see not only their interest in engaging but also follow through in terms of RFP issue and so on.” This is an interesting observation as one would expect this generation to have quite different expectations about what an ETRM would do and how they would interact with it. One assumes that they will expect much more intuitive UI’s and access from different devices as well as more automation, built-in intelligence and workflow, and so on than previous generations. They are also probably more likely to see cloud-based and SaaS as the norm and even desired way forward.
We have also detected a little boredom with the online webinar format now that face-to-face is back. While online webinars can be informative and easier and less costly to attend, commodity trading is by its very nature an activity that still relies on human interaction and socialisation. Perhaps then it is no surprise that face-to face is the preferred venue – at least for now?