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The Harare Agriculture Show, the annual week-long exhibition for Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector, was held from 19 to 27 August 2011. According the Harare Agriculture Society (HAS), this year’s show attracted about 1,000 exhibitors from the local industry as well as exhibitors from other countries like South Africa, China and Zambia.
Publicity for the show is abundant on traditional media platforms like TV, radio and local newspapers. There’s enough coverage of the exhibition on these media to attract paying show goers and (in-turn) to provide optimum business benefit to exhibitors. Attendance for the exhibition is always in the tens of thousands, and sometimes (likely the case this year) spilling into more than a hundred thousand.
For all this success, you would expect the HAS to have some kind of official presence on the internet.
It does not.
It does not have a functional website where prospective exhibitors and show goers can find information about the show. In fact both the has.co.zw and has.org.zw domains are currently available for anyone to register. I don’t know the reason but my simple assumption is this; nobody has been successful convincing the HAS board why the exhibition needs some online presence.
In an attempt to do this and hopefully get HAS thinking about it in time for 2012’s show, I’m going to give a few quick reasons why the show needs some internet presence and how it can benefit from this:
- HAS can use the internet to provide a programme of the show. The programme will have information on what’s on exhibition and on which days. Except for small adverts in the Herald last week, there was just no way of telling what was going on at the Exhibition Park. Most people are interested in particular exhibitions and want information on them. Currently, this information is hard to find.
- A map of the exhibition park. Harare Agriculture Show is a massive exhibition. To view all the stands, one has to dedicate at least a whole day of quickly going through them. Add to that, the daily activity on display at the grounds, and you can easily need more than just a day. As a result, most people target a specific type of exhibition, technology companies for example. Currently this is not easy to do as there are no maps easily accessible that show where the exhibitors of interest are located. A downloadable map on society’s website would resolve this at a very low cost to the society.
- To attract more exhibitors. Prospective exhibitors in Zimbabwe and the world over have to know about the show to see if they can exhibit there. They need to know the audience that comes to the show, the potential business leads to come out of the exhibition, the cost, the terms, the accommodation arrangements etc… All this information HAS can easily put together on an easy to navigate website to attract more high value exhibitors.
- To attract more show goers. With no easily accessible information about the show highlights, security of vehicles, how to attend etc…, HAS is losing a lot of prospective visitors who just don’t find any information about the event.
- The Harare Agric Show is always characterized by long queues of show goers waiting their turn to pay and attend the show. Through a website and a mobile service HAS can make it easier to buy a ticket by announcing the availability of tickets in advance, advising people where to buy the tickets, and working with mobile operators (and VAS developers) to create a ticketing system using mobile air time.
- Information on the internet stays there, available and waiting for anyone who Googles it. Unlike a TV advert (or radio) that shows for a few minutes and disappears (relying on the target audience to be tuned in when it shows) information on your website stays for anyone anywhere searching for it any time. Even newspaper adverts cannot provide this always-there mode.
- HAS can use its website to provide virtual stands to exhibitors. Depending on the amount charged to an exhibitor, HAS can provide either multiple virtual stands on a single page (for a specific category), or reserve whole pages to a single virtual stand for an exhibitor. The management of the virtual stands can be outsourced to a single web development company for consistency or left to the dedicated virtual stand owners to manage. Where available, the virtual stand can provide a link out to the company’s regular website, thereby increasing the chances of business generation from the show.
These are just a few ways HAS can benefit from some online presence, both the internet and mobile VAS. If you, dear reader, have more examples or ideas for the Harare Agriculture Society, please share in the comments below. And if you’re a web development or web marketing company, maybe it’s time you approached HAS with a proposal for Harare Agriculture Show 2012!
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