Posted on May 31, 2011
The Economist Franchise Fair Returns in June
Back in March, The Economist Group's Online Fairs division organized the company's first-ever Online International Franchise Fair, bringing together leading franchise opportunities and prospective franchisees for a 48-hour interactive virtual franchise show. (Franchising represents the third industry for which The Economist's Online Fairs division has organized an online show, following similar events in the business and education segments.)
Following the success of this first online franchise show, The Economist has announced that it will be hosting a second franchise event, scheduled to take place this June 28-29. Registration for The Economist's Franchise Fair is currently open (and free to consumers), and as an extra incentive to prospective franchise investors The Economist is running a drawing to win an iPad 2 for registrants who visit 5 or more franchise booths during the event (registrants are automatically entered once they register here).
The concept of a virtual / online franchise show isn't itself unique, but the entrance of a major media brand of The Economist's stature and credibility certainly is newsworthy. We were curious to find out how the original Online Franchise Fair had gone and to learn what the publisher has planned for its next franchise-related event, so we met with members of The Economist's Online Fairs division to hear it straight from the source.
Read on for a recap of March's Online Franchise Fair and a discussion of what franchisors and those trying to find a franchise can expect from The Economist's Franchise Fair this June.
(Note: Franchisors and consultants -- there's still time to participate in this event, and there may be special late registrant access available for your franchise or company. Click here to learn more about exhibiting at The Economist Franchise Fair).
The Economist Franchise Fair -- March 24-25, 2011: Franchise Show Recap
The first Economist Franchise Fair was held March 24-25, 2011 (though an archive of the show was open for attendees to peruse for approximately 30 days after the event was finished). According to The Economist, the show attracted potential franchisees from across the globe, with attendees logging in from over 100 countries (the bulk coming from North America, Western Europe, the UK, and Australia). There was similar diversity in the roster of exhibitors, which included over a dozen franchisors and consultants from both the United States and the UK. These exhibitors represented a variety of categories, including:
- Food & Beverage;
- Employment Services;
- Printing & Graphics;
- Packing & Delivery, and
- Cleaning & Maintenance.
In addition to manning virtual booths and addressing attendee questions in an interactive chat-type environment, exhibitors presented on a number of topics, delivering webinars, video content, and discussion sessions with titles like "Overcoming the Big Roadblock of Financing," "What Makes a Successful Franchise Partner," and "The Value in Using a Franchise Consultant."
Although it was The Economist's first franchise-related event, it seems that the show garnered strongly positive feedback from franchisors, consultants, and attendees alike. Reviews we were shown from exhibiting franchisors such as Maid Brigade and AlphaGraphics express satisfaction with the online fair model's ability to drive qualified prospects from a diverse marketplace of investors. Meanwhile, we saw reviews from attendees of the event who wrote in citing the high quality of the virtual fair interface (according to The Economist, 96% of attendees indicated they found the fair "easy to navigate") as well as their appreciation of the 24/7, self-serve nature of the event.
The Economist Franchise Fair -- June 28-29, 2011: Franchise Show Preview
From what we gather, the second iteration of The Economist's Franchise Fair should share much with the first.
As before, live sessions will be a critical component of the franchise fair format: there will be virtual booths, where franchisors and consultants can chat in real time and answer attendee questions in a live, one-on-one format. These interactions will benefit from technology upgrades that have been implemented since the last show, improving ease of use of the virtual chat feature. The live chat sessions will take place in three four-hour blocks, in the morning and afternoon of June 28 and then again on the afternoon of June 29.
As with the first show, there will be presentations and webinars, led by franchise experts and consultants, on various subjects of interest to investors looking to find a franchise (addressing such topics as "What Makes a Successful Franchisee" and "Overcoming the Finance Roadblock"). The Economist has invested particular effort toward expanding the selection and depth of the franchise show's webinar content, as these sessions proved particularly popular among attendees at the last fair.
Responding to visitor feedback from the March show, The Economist is planning to draw in a broader set of exhibitors for June's Franchise Fair. Franchisors and consultants presenting this time around will represent the following categories, at a minimum:
- Food and Beverage;
- Employment Services;
- Home Cleaning Services;
- Shipping & Packing;
- Printing & Graphics;
- Education / Tutoring;
- Child Care & Senior Care, and
- Accounting Services.
The final list of participating franchise concepts is expected to be released in mid-June, but all indications are that the list will see considerable expansion from the group that participated in the first online franchise fair back in March.
(Franchisors interested in learning more about the event can access special late registrant information by clicking here for additional information).
The Economist's involvement in the franchise industry is an interesting experiment well worth keeping an eye on. We're certainly interested in tracking how the publisher's second online franchise event goes, and we'll be sure to keep FranchiseHelp.com readers informed by writing a follow-up report on the event after its conclusion.
Prospective franchisees and investors interested in attending or learning more about The Economist's Franchise Fair can read details and/or register for the event online, free of charge. Franchisors, meanwhile, can learn how they might exhibit at the event (and any special incentives that may be available to them) by clicking through to request additional information on the Economist Franchise Fair.
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