The Baltics' technicolor business

  • 2008-05-14
  • By Adam Mullett
VILNIUS - Just about every aspect of exhibition companies in the three Baltic states is wildly different. Not only do the major companies put on drastically different types of shows for drastically different prices, even deep-seated industry trends vary between the countries.
The one constant in the Baltic exhibition world is that they all manage to put on a good show. Though major exhibitions only happen a few times a year in the Baltics, when they do it is an opportunity 's both for businesses and customers 's too good to pass by.

The price of entrance to get into an exhibition varies depending on the country, with the average price of an exhibition in Lithuania hovering around eight litas (2.32 euros), Latvian exhibitions at around three lats (4.27 euros) and Estonian exhibitions at 60 kroons (3.83 euros).
In Latvia, exhibition organizer LatExpo has found that their business is getting stronger and stronger. Project manager Evija Andrejeva said Latvian business people consider exhibitions first for exposure in the market place.

"This is the first place for Latvian business people: you can meet lots and lots of customers and also other business people from the region," Andrejeva said.
In Estonia, Eesti Expo, a major exhibition company, is bouncing back from a lull they say was brought on by business' increased investment in the Internet. Risto Meigas, a member of the board, said the exhibition business took root in the mid to late 1990s, but then went downhill.
"When businesses worked out how to put their product on the Internet, they stopped using exhibitions," Meigas said.
His company is making a comeback now that companies are starting to relearn the benefits of trade fairs and exhibitions.
"When you use the Internet, radio and TV you have a larger audience, but when you are talking to someone in an exhibition, no one can change the channel or turn your voice down," Meigas said.

In Vilnius, the Litexpo Web site advertises only one exhibition in the next five months 's a sure sign that the industry has become stagnant. It is evident, however, that the focus is on quality, not quantity. Litexpo media officer Ruta Kelioutyte said the company is of a European standard.
"Lithuanians do not see exhibitions differently than in [Western] European countries, and trade fairs reflect the existing situation in the market," Kelioutyte said.
"As organizers, we receive really good and positive responses about our exhibition from foreign visitors," she said.

Even Kelioutyte's competitors in Latvia agree that Lithuanians can put on a good show. LatExpo's project director thinks that while some of the Latvian exhibitions should be counted as better, Resta 's the largest exhibition at Litexpo with 65,200 reported visitors in 2007 's was an undeniable success.
"Resta was very good, it was well organized and professional," Andrejeva said.
According to Andrejeva, exhibitions in the region should experience rapid growth in the near future because of the advantageous business contacts a business owner can make.
"You are only there for four days, but you can have meetings with clients and other business owners," Andreveja said.

"At the last international exhibition we had people from Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and other places, so it is a good place to make business contacts," she said.
Some upcoming exhibitions in the Baltic states include the 'Balttechnika 2008' show at Litexpo in Vilnius from May 20 's 23 and the 'Baby World-Latvia' show at the Kipsala International Exhibition Center in Riga from May 23 's 25. The next show in Estonia won't be until the Parnu Building show from September 19 's 21.