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April 4, 2008

Creating an experience is key to exhibition success

Lifestyle shows continue to flourish in what could otherwise be described as a declining exhibition industry, this time with the Wedding Show bucking the trend.

Despite figures from CTS earlier in the year suggesting overall exhibition attendance is at an eight-year low, the more creative events that incorporate numerous experiential elements and target the right markets have been performing well.

The latest example is the Wedding Show, which took place late last month at London’s iconic landmark Alexandra Palace. The show pulled out all the stops to provide an exciting and original experience for visitors, featuring innovative examples of catering, cake making, floral decorating and wedding crafts, from a host of leading companies, including John Lewis.

These features were combined with fashion shows staged by the major department store chain, in conjunction with Kosibah Creations, and a wide range of wedding workshops by WonderWorks.

Those exhibiting at the show, who previously booked up all of the available stands well in advance, were delighted with the level of interest that was generated.

Commenting on the Wedding Show’s runaway success, Katie Yiakoumi, marketing manager at Alexandra Palace, said: “We were delighted with the show. Exhibitors have been requesting for the event to be held annually and we are hoping this will be possible with aspirations for it only to become bigger and better.”

This year’s most successful shows are listed below, and all have a strong lifestyle theme, while employing experiential marketing techniques to excite and engage visitors:

• British International Motor Show: 411,070 visitors (23% up from previous edition in 2004).
• Taste Of London attendance continued its steady year-on-year climb: 2004 – 14,000; 2005 – 21,000; 2006 – 36,000.
• Taste Of Birmingham launch show attendance: 17,000+ (when 12,000 was targeted).
• Grand Designs added over 10,000 visitors to its 2005 launch show total, with 50,000+ visitors for 2006. The 2006 edition also increased its exhibitor total by over 200, and increased it's space by 19%.
• International Caravan and Motorhome 2006 drew in an incredible 72,000 visitors on its launch event, taking up some 80,000 square metres on the NEC.
• London Book Fair showed a 5.3% attendance rise to 24,000.

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