Virtual British Birdwatching Fair 2010.

by Gunnar Engblom on August 23, 2010

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Virtual Birdfair

Virtual BirdFair - Why not do the birdfair on line.

Virtual BirdFair - Why not do the birdfair on line?

Yesterday was the last day of the British Birdfair. Over 20000 visitors is the usual norm. Most people I know in the birding world have been talking about the event the last week. This year I could not go. PromPeru did not have a stand as they had all the 7 previous years. And we could not get a stand of our own. So even if I will be doing some ranting in this post, it is obvious that I am also somewhat envious to those that did go. If not for anything else, it would have been great to see some friends.

I have trying to convince myself that for my business, that my presence at the birdfair has very little importance. After all, I have sold  extremely few trips directly at the birdfair in the past – and I wonder if most of those I sell to, would not have found us on the internet anyway. The most undeniable advantage of being present at the birdfair is to give facetime to the people you know and those that would like to know you better.

Yet, when there, there is so much “sales-talk”,  and little time to just socialize-which is probably what one should do.

Most visitors will have collected several kilos of birding brochures with flashy catalogues.  Some have travelled over oceans in jets. In these brochures you find exactly the same stuff as you would findon the internet.  Seems like wasted resources to me! How many thousands of dollars have every exhibitor put into their stands and their own airfares? Meanwhile,  we are all outraged about global warming, deforestation and increasing numbers  of threatened birds.

If I go next year, I think the social part will be most important for me.  I will not worry about spewing out sales pitch messages on how great our trips are.  Instead I will say. Hey, if you are interested in a trip to Peru, have a look at our  web-page or our Facebook Page where you find the VIRTUAL PERUVIAN BIRDFAIR – now let’s get a beer and have some fun!

It is all on the web anyway, why do we need the Birdfair to sell or buy this stuff? OK, sure there is money that need to be raised for conservation. But could we not raise this money anyway? What if you could participate in a birdfair without spending all that money on hotels and travel? What if there is no need for those that sell products and services to produce all those colorful pamphlets? How much money could be freed to conservation? I propose to build a VIRTUAL WORLD BIRDWATCHING FAIR on line. A meeting space on the cyberspace, where all the products and  services can be found.  Here are some ideas summerized. What do you think?

  • CONSERVATION: money collected to bird conservation projects or organizations.
  • INCLUSIVE: inexpensive to exhibit for basic listing.  More expensive for fuller coverage and editing. Maybe some sort of quality vetting is necessary.
  • DONATIONS: donation campaigns for certain projects
  • TIMELESS: yearly editions, to culminate over the British Birdfair with lots of special offers, but does not need to be inactive before and after
  • NO-PRINTING  all birdfair catalogues and printed material downloadable in pdf format (Everyone, get an iPad, Tablet or a Kindle and save some trees!!).
  • NON-PROFIT: Totally non-profit web-page – just covering basic costs.
  • TEAMWORK. If you think this is a good idea and want to help and be part of  a new movement, I am all ears. Send me a line!

Originally, there were some special offers to birding tours in Peru here in this post, but they have been moved to a seperate post. Check it out here.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlie10000birds August 23, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Hi Gunnar. With respect you're missing the point a little. The UK Birdfair has raised over 2million GBP for conservation, all the top figures from most conservation orgs are there and accessible, and the networking opportunities are utterly unique. Sure, have a go at building an online business model, but don't forget that Birdfair also means that the ordinary conservation supporter can actually meet the men and women who are spending their subscription fees in person and discuss their concerns. It's a unique conservation opportunity.
As far as buying something goes a buyer can try eg almost every model of binocular on sale today in the space of a morning. It's much more than just looking at adverts in a brochure.
Don't get me wrong, you're idea is fine, but a better answer might be to try and start a Peru Birdfair instead?

Gunnar Engblom August 23, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Thanks for the comment charlie. Yes, I am aware of all this of course. And

Gunnar Engblom August 23, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Thanks for the comment charlie. Yes, I am aware of all this of course. And I am aware of the fundraising capacity over the years, I always felt quite uneasy of all the amazing amounts of paper used in the material produced for each year.
(Incidently, changing to another hot topic, maybe Birding should be released for Kindle/Ipad/computers). What if all that material could be released in digital format instead and promoted on-line. I am not interested in persuing this as a business model, but rather a fundraising model for specific projects. Although, I have great respect for BirdLife as an institution and the methods, I would also like to support organizations with very small overhead. On a yearly basis new projects could be chosen.

I think an online site that serves the birding community and which is not made with the purpose of private profit but rather as fundraiser for conservation could have a good results.

Regarding a birdfair in Peru, yes that is another idea worth working on. But I think the important thing in Peru is not creating a birdfair for overseas visitors, but to promote birding, naturewatching and conservation for Peruvians.

Gyorgy Szimuly (Szimi) August 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

Gunnar, you had some very cool idea is the past but I think this virtual birdfair is far the best of them. I could fully support to make it happen!

Cheers, Szimi

Lajos September 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Hi Gunnar, I think there are some working example regarding fundraisings, eg. mine :) ) I just simply donated the full profit of one of my tours to Butterfly Conservation, raised about 10.000 euro and we buy land for endangered butterflies. I have got the modell actually from Jesper Hornskov, how run fundraising for OBC in every year, sometimes twice.
Cheers, Lajos

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