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April 1, 2009
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ANALYSIS:Shows that are flourishing in the recession




No one would be foolish enough to suggest that the exhibition industry is not being affected by the global downturn – the demise of the London International Motor Show being a clear example of the credit crunch biting hard. However, neither is it signalling the death of the exhibition industry. As EVENTS:review has been saying for some time, with the right approach in the right market, exhibitions can still be a success for exhibitors and visitors alike.

A fine example of the power that exhibitions still weald is the record 25,064 consumers that attended The Baby Show with Prima Baby at Excel London from 27 February to 1 March. This was up 6% on 2008.

The importance of trust
“The Baby Show is a brand that our visitor audience trusts, both for the consistent delivery of an educational and entertaining experience and also value,” explains organiser Leah Tidy, of Clarion Events. “Often a vast amount of research is done beforehand with visitors committed to purchasing at the show knowing that significant savings can be made. Equally our exhibitors are able to reach a huge number of this ever-changing demographic of new parents and parents to be cost-effectively.”

Avril Deane from exhibitor Tommee Tippee says: “Like many companies at this time, we were full of trepidation before the show wondering if – in spite of a booming birth rate – people would turn up. We needn't have worried. We were showcasing our new Closer to Nature BPA-free range and by the end of Saturday we had sold out of nearly everything. At times the Tommee Tippee stand was practically under siege with the queues to pay right round the stand and plenty of £50 notes in evidence.” 

Fuel for thought
A 6% rise, this time in business-to-business visitor numbers, was also recorded at the annual International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment Show, which took place at the NEC from 1 to 3 March. Organiser William Reed’s event director, Matthew Butler, put the increase down to a “stellar line up of exhibitors” and a new incentive voucher booklet containing tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of offers, which, he says, “was a huge hit with retailers”.

BP franchise offer development manager, Carl Osbourn enjoyed the success confirming: “We had a very busy show and it has been very productive. We’ve had a good number of leads to follow up and we’ve had enquiries for franchise as well as the fuel.”

A route through the downturn
Event organisers themselves turned out in record numbers as well last month for the 26th International Confex, which took place at Earls Court 24-26 February. More than 11,140 professionals from around the world had made a beeline for the annual industry event, an increase of 5% on last year.

“In the months leading up to Confex, there was a climate of fear paralysing the industry,” admits event director, Duncan Reid, “but a significant amount of business has been conducted at the show and I can see a real confidence returning to the market.”

Furthermore, the huge retail show Spring Fair even managed to hold its own, despite not only being hit by the slump in the sector, but also by adverse wintry weather conditions.

All this is proof that trade and consumer exhibitions are not only a highly effective way for companies to marketing themselves, but that they can also help businesses get through the downturn.


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