Interview with Clara Inés Ferrer Orozco, Fair Director, CAMACOL Antioquia
What should the world know about Camacol?
Camacol is the Colombian Chamber of Construction. We are a private economic union that has existed in Colombia for more than 60 years and work to maintain and develop the construction sector. Our institution supports not only the constructors as such, but the entire chain of suppliers, financial entities, entire construction sector, and final customers who are the homebuyers. We focus mainly on building residential and nonresidential housing and work to improve the country’s construction activity.
What kind of B2B meetings are you organizing?
Within the activities we carry out for the sector, we’ve also developed commercial activities, such as fairs and business meetings. We’re running events such as Expo Camacol, which is the largest fair we organize nationally every two years.
Our fair focuses mainly on providing a platform for meetings between the industry supply and demand. It’s a fully specialized fair we manage with the support of entities such as ProColombia and the Chamber of Commerce of Medellin.
What we do is search for exhibitors and national or international buyers who are interested in the exhibitors’ offers. Then, we help them schedule face-to-face meetings in the hopes they’ll learn from each other and possibly develop business relationships.
What results are you seeking to obtain through the B2B meetings?
Apart from generating knowledge, the goal of our events is to help both suppliers and buyers get to know each other and build meaningful business relationships. We are interested in organizing a fair that has positive results for those who participate, and these B2B meetings are one of the main activities that help us achieve our goal. Many people visit the fair and they’re meeting the providers at their stands.
However, we’re focusing on providing more specific meetings, ensuring the compatibility between the suppliers and buyers, based on the products they’re offering or searching for. Also, we’re running independent B2B meetings (outside the fair). For these events, again, we look for suppliers and buyers who have similar interests and provide them with a space where they can meet.
Eventtia has helped us carry out these events for about six years and refined their B2B matchmaking technology each time. The tool is very well accepted by the participating entrepreneurs. Many of the attendees are already familiar with this platform and claim it even in other events.
Eventtia allows us to manage several things, such as helping providers assemble all the products or services in a very attractive way so that they catch people’s interest. Eventtia also coordinates the times that the organizer has defined. We offer meetings in durations of 30 or 40 minutes (depending on the event), where the suppliers and buyers can request appointments. The most important thing is that these appointments are for people who are really interested in getting to know each other. We do not schedule any appointments without having consulted the attendees.
The platform also allows us to organize a large number of agendas that would be impossible to manually organize, because it lets us see available time slots—both for the suppliers and buyers who are registered to participate in these B2B meetings—and arrange last-minute appointments. It is a tool that helps us speed up the entire process, and it differentiates us from the rest.
From your experience, what are the characteristics of a successful B2B meeting?
To organize a successful B2B meeting, it is very important to know exactly what the offer and demand are. We communicate with both the suppliers and buyers to learn their needs. Based on this information, we define the specific categories that have to do with that particular sector; in this case, the construction sector.
This is important so that the participants can easily select what they’re looking for and what they’re offering. This way, we can be certain that attendees are able to schedule meetings with truly relevant and compatible connections.
This, for me, is success: To be able to understand their interests and schedule appointments, seeing in real time if a person is available, looking at different possibilities, reacting in an agile way, and running networking sessions that hopefully generate business in the future.
How are you assessing attendee satisfaction level?
After the B2B meetings are over, we conduct satisfaction surveys to evaluate the number of business opportunities we’re able to initiate. It’s not always easy to get everyone to respond. In cases such as the Expo Camacol fair, we go through a third party and through the buyers.
The buyers inform us, as part of an initial commitment, about the business opportunities they developed during these meetings. This information helps us make necessary improvements for the next event.
What should attendees know before participating in a B2B meetings session?
The attendee has to know and thoroughly understand how a B2B meeting works. Buyers have to know more or less the offer. On the other hand, the suppliers have to know what they’re offering, and most importantly, what is being demanded on the market. We usually let the information flow both from the offer and the demand.
With that, we try to strengthen companies or buyers that look for or offer different products. Attendees should also have a clear focus on the type of product or service the business conference can offer. The key to running successful meetings is not to invite just anyone, but only those appropriate people who are related to the sector.
What good practices do you use to carry out when planning B2B meetings? What would you recommend to other organizations that want to arrange this type of event or dynamic?
B2B meetings are focused on creating more business opportunities, which is an important dynamic in the support of entrepreneurs to achieve their specific objectives. It’s also very important to have tools that can guarantee maximum compatibility between the supply and demand. In our case, Eventtiahas allowed us to streamline the processes and achieve our goals.
What do you think is the future of B2B meetings?
A few years ago, we used to organize B2B meetings as part of the fairs. Nowadays, however, we carry out individual B2B meetings rounds, which are in very high demand right now, and will continue to develop and support the attendees in achieving their commercial goals. B2B meetings offer a very interesting format that can be adapted to any sector because they provide the chance to learn more about the market’s needs and can lead to new business opportunities.