Estonian company pioneers online expo

  • 2008-10-29
  • By Matt Withers
TALLINN - The Estonian company Online Expo has set a new precedent for trade exhibitions by introducing the revolutionary concept of an exclusively virtual fair.
'Travel Expo' 's which is accessible online in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland from Oct. 27 to Nov. 5 's is the world's first online exhibition and the first-installment in a series of expos to be conducted by the Tallinn-based company.

"A lot of other services have moved to internet: banks, phone calls, letters, and others. Why couldn't trade fairs go online?" said Online Expo CEO Anna Lepp. 
Online Expo, headed by entrepreneurs Lepp and Sergei Semjonov, was formed last December but has spent a lot of time and money investing in the conceptual phase of development. The company's entirely online approach to trade expos has already been branded a quintessentially Estonian development 's a tag encouraged by the company's expressed hope to emulate the success of similar Estonian internet innovations such as Skype.

Lepp said that the idea was encouraged by the increasingly internet-driven nature of the service industry, but stressed that the concept will accommodate the benefits of traditional exhibitions too.
 "Just as in traditional fairs, participators have an option to communicate in real time and get contacts," Lepp said.
Lepp and Semjonov are expecting Travel Expo, which is freely accessible for visitors, to draw in 25,000 people per day over the 10-day campaign, and have committed to publishing a highly detailed breakdown of visitor statistics to publicize the success of their new medium.

But Travel Expo is essentially a prototype 's according to Lepp 2008 has largely been spent developing the concept 's and Online Expo doesn't expect to generate profits until 2009, when the project aims to expand into more lucrative areas of the international market.
"By today, 15 million kroons have been invested into the project, mainly in developing the virtual environment, opening new branches, and recruiting specialists. We plan to have the project earning profits by 2009," she said.
 "We are already making money. We sell franchise to other states and 25 percent of sales there come to us. We hope to be earning a profit with the project by the coming year. The office is Estonia is already in black," said Semjonov.

Online Expo has set its sights on attracting extensive international involvement, especially with the economic powerhouses of the U.S., Russia and China, and has already succeeded in establishing upcoming partnerships in the first two cases. 
"Next year in March we will have a building and interior exhibition which will include Russia, the United States, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus," Lepp said.

At present Online Expo has seven virtual exhibitions penciled into their schedule 's one will take place in December this year while the others are slated for 2009. The December event aptly focuses on technology and the internet, while the 2009 lineup will feature a virtual motor show and an online real estate expo.