Go West, Young Meeting Planner

When things stay the same, you do things the same way. When things change, that’s when life gets interesting. Fortunately for businesses in Central and Western China, things are starting to change.

For companies that keep up, this is good – more customers, more suppliers, more business partners.

Companies that don’t keep up will see the new customers go to their competitors. After all, if your sales and marketing efforts are focused on taking the same three guys out to a fancy dinner, then your business will be limited to those three guys – unless a competitor comes in and sweeps them away.

There are two main avenues to change: education, and networking. Your sales and marketing staff need to learn new techniques for finding and developing customers, for example.

Both education and networking happen at conferences and seminars. And, as Central and Western China starts to develop, so does the event planning industry in the region.

That’s what a friend of mine just told me, whose company is currently organizing an event in Xi’an and is planning to open one or two offices inland in the next six months.

David Taylor, spokesman for Monaco-based naseba Lnoppen, is one of the high-end events organizers, catering mostly to multinationals and the biggest domestic firms. In mid October, the company is holding the Advanced Coal and Chemical Summit in Xi’an.

“That’s where the industry is,” he told me. In fact, event participants will even get an industry on-site visit.

The company is also planning an event in Chengdu for later this year.

The government’s “go west” program was a big jump-start to the events industry, he said. “Business is moving there, and we follow the business.”

Foreign businesses – and big Chinese companies – who are moving into the region need information and local contacts. Meanwhile, local companies that want to go national – or international – benefit from training and contacts as well.

So far, there isn’t too much competition our west, he said. “It’s almost an untapped market when it comes to events. A lot of that, as best as I can tell, is because the events companies tend to come from a fairly international perspective an they still see Shanghai and Beijing as being the center of China business.”

But with the growth in the inland cities, demand for information at all levels is expanding sharply, he said. This creates opportunities for event organizers both large and small.

The major industries contributing to this move are the energy sector, heavy industry, logistics, and, of course, manufacturing. There’s also interest in financial events, he added.

Running a successful business takes quite a bit more than producing a product and getting it out the door. It’s nice to see ecosystems developing, of all the ancillary services that businesses in today’s world need to survive – and thrive.

Disclosure: David is a friend, and he and I have talked before about doing joint projects together. We met, of course, at a conference.