Q&A with DISTREE Russia Event Director, Frederic Simard
Frederic Simard, Director and Co-Founder at DISTREE Events, recently took part in a Q&A session with a media partner regarding this year’s event. The interview is published in full below:
Q: It can be very difficult for a company that has not been to a DISTREE event before to understand the concept behind it? Can you explain how it works and what’s planned for the Russia event?
Frederic Simard (FS): Yes, it is important to explain the concept clearly and simply to all potential attendees. Basically, DISTREE Russia is an event that gives technology suppliers the opportunity to meet channel customers inside Russia. At that point, most people start thinking about standard trade shows where you wander around aimlessly for a few days, not really achieving very much. That’s when we start explaining the unique value-adds provided by the DISTREE format.
For DISTREE Russia, the quality of attendees takes priority over the quantity. We’re bringing together hundreds of technology brands – selling everything from consumer accessories to enterprise-focused business solutions. These companies want to either maximise their sales in the Russian market, optimise their channel strategy, or start sales in the country. Our job is to bring the right channel partners to the event to help them achieve their business goals.
Q: Who are the right channel partners and how do you make sure the exhibiting brands get to meet the right people that are relevant to their business?
FS: That’s a great question. Let me start by answering the first part. This year is the 13th annual DISTREE Russia event so we have been active in the region for a long time. Our recruitment team now has one of the most comprehensive and up to date channel databases in Russia and they are constantly working to keep it fully updated and accurate.
We only invite senior executives and buyers from Russia’s leading retailers and e-tailers to meet B2C technology brands at DISTREE Russia. Similarly, we’re inviting the VARs, service providers, corporate resellers and systems integrators that are capable of taking B2B products and solutions to market.
What sets DISTREE Russia apart from other trade shows is we let all exhibitors view the profiles of the channel attendees in advance and pre-schedule one-on-one meetings with the companies that match their precise business needs. That’s a huge value-add for all exhibitors.
If you’re new to the region, you can research and pick the prospective partners best suited to your portfolio and customer base, and pre-arrange on-site one-on-one meetings with all of them. If you’ve got an established channel, you can arrange meetings with your existing partners, plus some possible new ones at the event.
Q: Do you think this model offers additional benefits to exhibitors?
FS: I would say 100% yes. It’s all about efficiency. By bringing together the right people in one place at one time and giving them access to the right information and web tools, we aim to give everyone the ultimate event experience at DISTREE Russia.
You know when you turn up at a traditional trade show and wander around for a few days, maybe swap cards with a few average contacts and then leave wondering if it had really been worth attending?
Now imagine the opposite of that: an event where you turn up and you’re handed a personal agenda with a series of structured meetings with the people you really need to work with and really want to meet. And an event that takes place in a professional business-focused environment with a carefully pre-qualified ‘invitation only’ audience. An event that gives you access to translators if you require them for your meetings. That’s the DISTREE difference that we aim to deliver to all delegates.
Q: It sounds convincing, but what are the opportunities in the Russian market at the moment? Most of the economic news seems quite negative? Are there still market opportunities?
FS: There is a famous quote saying a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. I think that’s pretty apt when it comes to looking at the Russian technology market in 2016. Technology brands need to commit to markets long-term and be ready to ride market waves and DISTREE Russia wants to help all brands do this and receive maximum business benefits and a clear return on investment (ROI) from attending the event.
Why Russia, why now? Well, regardless of the economic headlines, Russia is still a country of 146 million people with a strong appetite for technology products and solutions – both at a consumer and business level. Total in-country IT spending is still forecast to exceed US$26 billion in 2016, with 63% of this revenue derived from hardware sales, 23% from services and 14% from packaged software. That’s still a market that tech brands need to be present in and involved in.
Q: Are you seeing the type of companies interested in exhibiting at DISTREE Russia changing?
FS: I would rather say evolving. It needs to be made clear that DISTREE Russia brings as many benefits to technology brands that are already active in Russia as it does to companies that are new to the country. Geographically, it’s a vast market. When you’re bringing together partners from all the major cities in one place at one time, that’s a powerful business development opportunity for all brands to tap into.
DISTREE Russia is a neutral event platform and we are willing to talk to all technology brands that want to manage, build or launch channels in Russia. What we are seeing at the moment is more brands based out of Asia-Pacific recognising the opportunity that currently exists to set up sales channels in Russia and even launch local operations.
There is also an increased emphasis on products and brands that represent value for money in the eyes of consumers, so that creates opportunities for a number of brands that may not previously have seen Russia as a significant opportunity.
Q: What’s your message to those that are still undecided about DISTREE Russia?
FS: My message would be don’t miss out. Russian channels are changing fast and we’ve seen a shakeout in the retail channel landscape recently. If you’re a B2B or B2C channel partner, DISTREE Russia is the one event where you can identify the latest market trends, cement your relationship with existing vendors, identify new vendors and network with your peers.
I would recommend that all potential exhibitors look very closely at the ROI that is possible by participating at DISTREE Russia. We offer a wide range of packages to cater for all tech companies from start-ups to multinational corporations. The chance to reach 400-plus of Russia’s most influential B2B and B2C channel partners in one place at one time is highly valuable. The opportunity to hold one-on-one meetings with them is priceless. Exhibitors achieve more value for less outlay at DISTREE Russia because of the unique event format. We’re also bringing in leading technology and channel media from across Russia to the event.
Q: Why did you decide this year to have separate B2B and B2C channel events held simultaneously?
FS: It is something we had been considering for some time. We felt that we now had all the appropriate technology and back-end systems to separate them out. By creating two separate channel audiences we can further improve the quality and relevance of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings that take place at the event. If an exhibitor has a portfolio that spans both B2B and B2C channels, we’ve also created some innovative packages that allow them to get the best out of both events.
We want to help all technology brands reach their full potential in the Russia market – and I mean everyone, from basic smartphone accessories through to complex enterprise-focused cloud solutions. DISTREE Russia is the smart choice for technology vendors and brands that are serious about fulfilling their in-country market potential and optimising their go-to-market strategy.