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May 16, 2008

DIGITAL SHOW WARS: Internet World confident of solo success at Olympia

Despite comments by the director of Reed Exhibition’s E-Commerce and Digital Marketing Expo (ECDM), Chris James, last week that Internet World would struggle next year when it runs on its own at London’s Olympia for the first time, organisers CMPi are confident the show will be a success.

For the last three years, Internet World has shared Earl’s Court 2 with the International Direct Marketing Fair (IDMF). It’s move to go it alone at Olympia for 2009 at the same time as the IDMF has spurred Reed to launch ECDM, which is scheduled to take place at Earl’s Court 2 alongside its sister show. James suggested that this would hit Internet World’s visitor numbers, but reports by CMPi that rebooking is already at 84% suggest that the show at least has exhibitors on board.

“Over the past three years, Internet World has more than doubled in size and, this year, was bursting at the seams in the current venue,” said Internet World’s show director James Drake-Brockman. “We were even forced to move many of our theatres away from their natural home at the centre of the relevant areas on the show floor.”

ECDM’s James claimed last week that CMPi would not agree to a number of ideas Reed put forward that would allow both shows to co-exist. Drake-Brockman, on the other hand, puts the blame on a lack of flexibility on Reed’s part in accommodating Internet World’s expansion.

“Unfortunately, Reed was simply not willing to make more space available to us, which we have long been asking for,” he said. “This gave us little choice, but to move into a different hall for the good of our visitors and exhibitors.”

Despite this, Drake-Brockman does not rule out rekindling the partnership.

“CMP remains open to re-partnering with Reed in a substantially similar fashion to these last three years, either co-promoting the two shows, Internet World and IDMF, to visitors across Earls Court 2 and Olympia Grand Hall and/or to return to Earls Court 2 with IDMF in a sensible hall layout that gives our visiting and exhibiting customers the space they need,” he said.

This arrangement, however, is unlikely following Reed’s announcement of their intent to launch a competitive event, ECDM, alongside the IDMF.

“It is well documented that IDMF crossovers represent a small percentage of our overall attendee number and we expect Internet World 2009 to continue the impressive visitor and exhibitor growth of the past three years,” said Drake-Brockman. “Our long-established and powerful brand, extensive partner network, enormous data resources and many friends in the industry have all been built up over a long period of time. It is these that are key to the success of the show, and we do not believe we will be at all affected by Reed’s attempts to go it alone with IDMF and substitute Internet World with an unproven and unrecognised ECDM launch.”

So the saga continues, and it will be interesting to gauge visitor reaction to the prospect of having two shows addressing the same market taking place at the same time in London. What’s more, if Internet World has indeed achieved such a high rebooking rate already, what are the chances of ECDM attracting key exhibitors?

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