In the complex world of business matching, pre-schedued appointments (PSA) refer to the process of exhibitors and buyers choosing their desired meetings from a list. The list could be pre-determined using biometrics for easy selection. Attendees use a form to select who they want to meet, and the priority of choice is given to buyers and exhibitors with delegates and walk-in visitors coming in later.
The PSA phase usually occurs months prior to an event and upon closure of the period, a tech system within the matching platform slots appointments into exibitors’ and buyers’ diaries if they get mutual requests from each other. This part of the process is often performed using an algorithm pre-determined by the organiser. At this point, exhibitors and buyers have the choice of cancelling or rescheduling their meetings.
“PSA is quite an old concept but it has become the norm today,” said Tan Kuan Yan, CEO of Jublia, a business matching service headquartered in Singapore. “When the system was designed, the tech wasn’t that advanced. This means that the web tech doesn’t have a lot of real-time capabilities.”
The “real-time capabilities” that Tan refers to is something that exhibitors and buyers expect these days, especially with personalisation and flexibility becoming increasingly important in events.
“There’s a strong opportunity to combine the whole process. We can simply have a platform for people to interact and have visibility of who wants to meet them and allow them to react to that,” he said.
An alternative platform as he describes means that the power goes back to the exhibitors and buyers. “They will make their meetings. You have to treat them like adults. [Buyers will] meet their minimums. And most importantly, they’ll do the meetings that they want,” said Tan.
“What really surprised us [with this method] was not the number of meetings because all buyers have minimums. What surprised us was the fulfilment and satisfaction rate.” Citing a past event for a client where 300 buyers attended, he said an “overwhelming” 80% of them were satisfied with their meetings.
Tan also expands on the transactionary nature of business matching. While buyers have minimums to meet, and organisers might measure the success of their event by the number of meetings set, he argues that the tangibility of the process is not as important as the success rate of the actual meetings.
A platform like Jublia, for instance, allows attendees to rate their meetings. It can also display who exhibitors and buyers are most looking for. Say a majority of buyers attending a travel trade event are looking to meet with tech providers in particular, the platform is able to read if there are enough tech providers exhibiting at the event.
Thereon, organisers can curate their audience based on this data. “The data from business matching can help you measure the health of your event in a sense of how people are networking at your event such as their behaviour, and from that, as an organiser, you have to dig into the data and learn how to improve next time in getting new buyers or exhibitors,” said Tan.
“The quality of meetings depends on the audience that you bring. [The platform] collects a lot of strong activity data and through this, [organisers] must first see beyond the lens of business matching being just operational. It’s not just about connecting people; but also what’s in it for the organiser,” said Tan.