Jack Marczewski Headshot

Jack Marczewski, Event Director at The Meetings Show


The Meetings Show, which launched in 2013, welcomes exhibitors from the UK and around the world including hotels, luxury hotels, destinations, destination management companies, conference centres, venues and technology suppliers. VisitScotland Business Events has been a long-term exhibitor at The Meetings Show alongside several of its partners.

Like many of its competitors The Meetings Show had to pull its 2020 event and switch to a fully virtual platform. We caught up with Event Director, Jack Marczewski to discuss this year's hybrid event and what he thinks the future of tradeshows looks like.

The 2020 edition of The Meetings Show was due to run as a hybrid event but a month before the show you had to switch to fully virtual. What does the agenda look like for 2021 and have you made any changes to this year's event following your experience of a fully virtual event?

We had 34 days, to be exact, to switch to fully virtual. It had always been in the back of our minds that we may be forced into a fully virtual experience, so we had done a lot of the groundwork already, but I wouldn't like to repeat those 34 days any time soon.

One major thing that we learnt from the planning cycle last year is that it is much easier to be over-cautious and take away precautions, instead of trying to shoehorn them in, which is the approach we have taken towards the 2021 exhibition.

At the start of this year, we mapped out how The Meetings Show would look and function under the tightest COVID measures and have been amending those plans accordingly.

We are confident that we will be able to run The Meetings Show as close to its traditional form as possible in which there will be a fully-fledged hosted buyer programme in operation, education programme and numerous networking events taking place over the two days.

Moving to ExCel London, with its excellent transport connections and expansive show floor, allows us to accommodate any necessary precautions easily without sacrificing the fundamental features of the show.

With there still being some uncertainty over when international travel can resume safely, how are you working with your international exhibitors and delegates to ensure they can still have full access to the show?

Whilst the focus will be on the in-person event, there will also be a hybrid aspect this year. Our 2020 virtual experience brought a lot of opportunities to light that we felt could enhance The Meetings Show and we are excited to integrate them into everyone's experience this year.

The virtual show took place on the Swapcard platform and moving into the 2021 show, we will be utilising Swapcard for both the virtual and in-person show experience.

We are forecasting that most of the visitors and hosted buyers attending the show will be UK-based. However, we have seen unwavering hunger from our international audience to attend the show in one way or another this year and the virtual aspect will allow exhibitors and delegates to meet seamlessly, whether they are attending the show physically or virtually.

What do you think the future of the tradeshow will look like? Do you think hybrid events will remain a popular option?

It really depends on the definition of a hybrid event. The value proposition of the virtual aspect of a show is very different to that of an in-person event and I think that there are many aspects of a trade show that simply cannot be reproduced virtually.

I certainly believe that moving forward, organisers will be utilising virtual platforms to increase the reach and longevity of their in-person events. However, one thing that has become evident over the last year is the importance of face-to-face interaction and how much people have missed it.

To find out more about this year's show here