TransITmeet software optimises appointment booking for more (planning) security

INTERSPORT shows trade fair of the future

Clogged aisles and queues often characterise the visitor experience at trade fairs. Not at INTERSPORT Deutschland eG: For 17 years, the most successful medium-sized association group in the sports retail sector with more than 900 retailers with 1,500 shops has relied on an intelligent appointment booking system from gts Systems and Consulting GmbH for efficient appointment coordination between trade fair exhibitors and retailers. By entering visit requests and keeping a tight schedule, each order fair, including appointments for up to 900 dealer persons per fair day and 80 exhibitors, is organised as effectively as possible. gts has now further developed the concept: The TransITmeet solution also provides large trade fairs with optimisation potential in terms of sales, resources and costs and delivers several incentives for their restart during and after Corona.

Visits to trade fairs can be frustrating: You have thought carefully beforehand about which topics and products you would like to inform yourself about. On site, however, the salespeople of the desired exhibitors are constantly in conversation. Or you show up at the pre-arranged appointment and the salesperson is stuck in the previous conversation. The result: the visitor wanders haphazardly around the hall and wastes a large part of his attendance time. The salespeople lose potential deals because they can only serve one customer at a time. What is needed is efficient coordination that improves the quality of the fair for everyone involved. What would it be like, for example, if visitors (actually) planned three days on site, but could time their visit so that it was possible to leave after two days? Or if visitors and exhibitors could choose in advance who they would like to talk to at the fair? The focus is on a concept that redesigns trade fairs, including the scheduling of appointments, and provides the organisers and participating companies with valuable input for continuous optimisation.

Optimised appointment booking at INTERSPORT

The example of the medium-sized INTERSPORT group shows how this can work: since 2004, the group has regularly organised order fairs at its own redblue event centre in Heilbronn.

Six times a year, around 600 sports retailers of the INTERSPORT Group meet to order the new collection from the industry exhibitors. On average, 80 exhibitors take part in the trade fair, with around five to eight sales representatives on 4 to 7 trade fair days, who are present on site in different ways. Due to the inconsistent availability, scheduling with individual arrangements or manual allocation is hardly feasible, as capacities inevitably remain unused. In order to organise the trade fair as efficiently as possible in terms of time for all participants, INTERSPORT therefore looked for a system that centrally coordinates and optimises all trade fair appointments. The goal: to reduce idle time and guarantee the maximum number of appointments at each trade fair. The software provider gts from Aachen developed the appointment booking system (TBS) for INTERSPORT, which objectively takes into account visit requests and prevents duplication of appointments.

Up to 5,000 guaranteed appointments - planned in advance

Vor jeder Messe stehen drei Phasen: In der Vorbuchungsphase erfasst die Software die verfügbaren Außendienstmitarbeiter der Aussteller und Einkaufsteams der INTERSPORT-Händler. Sowohl die Aussteller als auch die Händler geben ihre Besuchswünsche mit einer geplanten Termindauer an. In der Optimierungsphase errechnet die Software einen Terminplan, der die Präferenzen beider Seiten vereint und die Wartezeiten für alle Beteiligten möglichst kurzhält. Kurz vor der Messe startet die Nachbuchungsphase, in der die noch bestehenden Lücken im Terminplan gefüllt werden und bis zum Messeende noch weitere Termine nachgebucht werden können. „Das Terminbuchungssystem ist für uns ein wichtiger Baustein, um die Messekapazitäten von durchschnittlich 3.000 bis 5.000 Terminen bestmöglich auszuschöpfen“, sagt Lars Sommer, Ressortleiter des Messezentrums redblue. „Angesichts unserer großen Messefläche von 10.000 m2 koordiniert das TBS die Termine auch von den Laufwegen her sinnvoll. Das gestaltet den Besuch möglichst zeiteffektiv und ressourcensparend.“

More than 350,000 appointments coordinated so far

The industry representatives are also convinced by the system: "The simple overview of my pre-order appointments support me with the large request," says Oliver Bollmann, Area Sales Manager at the skiing goods manufacturer Atomic. "The automatic optimisation of visit requests makes it possible to accommodate all dealers in a small time window." In total, the software has coordinated more than 350,000 appointments since its introduction. It also ensures optimisation with regard to sales and resources: after the fair, statistics make it possible to compare the completed fair appointments with the previous year's values. The trade fair organisation team can analyse which visit requests remained open and whether all registered dealers were actually on site.

TransITmeet: Advantages for different users

The INTERSPORT principle has now been further developed by gts into the TransITmeet software, which other organisers of larger trade fairs can also use to optimise their trade fair processes. It fully fulfils the functions of the basic appointment booking system and offers users extended benefits: Here, too, the attendance time of visitors is reduced immensely through the input of visit requests in advance and a tight clocking of appointments. In addition, the system suggests further exhibitors that might be relevant for them - whether well-known companies, suppliers or certain types of exhibitions.

The visitors are optimally served by the exhibitor, as no other enquiries are made at the stand at the same time. This optimises the trade fair visit for the purchasing agent, for whom the right resources and experts are available at the stand.

Exhibitors also usually have precise ideas about whether they want to receive certain customers or types of customers. For example, the focus is on existing customers or as many first contacts as possible. By knowing before the fair which customer will come to the stand and when, the right advisor can be ready for the respective request.

This enables better staff scheduling. Ultimately, the trade fair company benefits from less planning effort: based on intelligent algorithms, the system centrally and independently develops and optimises plans that cannot be implemented manually.

Added Value: Trade fair becomes a service concept

TransITmeet's methodology goes one step further by enabling organisers to develop their trade fair into a service. By assuming the number of visitors, exhibitors can target their resources more effectively in advance and only send their staff to the fair when their presence is actually required. In addition, better trade fair planning is possible: the system digitises trade fair leads by digitally recording or filling in business cards and visit sheets. This creates valuable input for the sales department, which can tailor conversations to specific customers. The visitor registration provides important data for the CRM systems of the sales staff. Hybrid trade fair concepts - i.e. events with a mix of physical and virtual elements - can also be planned. In addition to the physical consultation appointment on site, visitors can book in advance the service of another expert, e.g. a technician, who takes part in the discussion via virtual switch. The trade fair costs are also easier to calculate thanks to a clearly defined visit plan. The course and success of the trade fair can be analysed afterwards, so that all participants benefit from continuous optimisation.

Potential for restart in corona times

Die anzunehmende Anzahl an Besuchern ist nicht nur im Vorfeld eingrenzbar, sondern die Messe wird insgesamt durch die geringere Besucherzahl entlastet. Dank des festen Terminplans gibt es an den Ständen keine Warteschlangen mehr; Personenansammlungen beim Betreten und Verlassen des Messegeländes und an Anziehungspunkten werden vermieden.  Auch die Infrastruktur im Umkreis der Messe inklusive ÖPNV wird durch die über den Tag verteilte Besucherzahl weniger stark in Anspruch genommen. Durch dieses Konzept entsteht eine hohe Sicherheit für Besucher und Aussteller: Denn zusätzlich erfüllt die Lösung in der Corona-Pandemie die Bestimmungen von Bund und Ländern, wie viele Menschen zusammentreffen dürfen und welchen Mindestabstand sie dabei einhalten müssen. Die Software integriert sich nahtlos in das geltende Infektionsschutzkonzept und ermöglicht eine klare Rückverfolgbarkeit möglicher Infektionsketten, da der Besucher sein Eintreffen am Messestand und das Ende des Gesprächs in einer App bestätigt. Das unterstützt den Wiederanlauf der Messen und kann zukünftig zum Standard werden. In Kombination mit der zeiteffektiven und ressourcenschonenden Systematik zur Terminbuchung entsteht ein Service, der das konventionelle Konzept von Messen nicht nur digitalisiert, sondern nachhaltig neugestaltet.

INTERSPORT shows trade fair of the future - gts systems

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