With so much to see and do at modern exhibitions, does it still make sense for contemporary shows to co-locate? Our experience with the International Food & Drink Event (IFE), Pro2Pac and Waste-Works has been an overwhelmingly positive one, and so we definitely believe this approach to be right.
Like any shopper in any category, exhibition visitors are continually on the search for the best value. For many of the buyers visiting our events, time is a precious commodity.
Co-locating our shows also has wider benefits for both exhibitors and suppliers alike. Our exhibitors benefit from increased footfall to the event, as registering for one of the shows gives access to all three events. It is also very possible that exhibitors at one event can provide solutions to the needs of exhibitors from one of the other co-located events.
Show visitors, on the other hand, benefit from extended industry knowledge and a time-effective opportunity to view first-hand the latest innovation from across the industry. Whether that’s handy food-to-go packaging, the newest waste reduction solution or the most interesting way to add alternative proteins into your diet, the co-located events have it covered.
As a marketing team, we benefit from the cross-promotion of the events, allowing us to reach a wider audience, but also allowing us to capitalise on each and every one of our marketing efforts, helping to ensure our exhibitors get the very best ROI. Co-location also makes absolute financial sense; from the investment of team time to collaborating on and co-branding marketing materials, it all makes managing budgets a tad simpler. There is little doubt that the overall event is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
There are a lot of benefits to be had from co-locating shows, both for exhibition organisers and visitors. For organisers:
• It enables scale – especially when you have a show that appeals to a wide demographic that would otherwise be broken up.
• It’s economically efficient, allowing you to spread the load and costs between events.
• It allows you to test markets without going to the expense of speculatively hiring venues and putting on dedicated shows.
• It lets you form deeper relations with bigger companies who may have several divisions or groups in different sectors.
And the upside for visitors is access to more content and more features, the chance to explore adjacent markets that could impact their own but which they may not have the time to explore independently and, of course, brilliant value for money. With us, for example, they get five shows in one.
The Wearable Technology Show launched four years ago – we were pioneers in the sector. There were no other events at that time and the market was new and untapped. As smart technology has matured, in terms of the technology and its applications, the audience has become more segmented with niche interests.
We responded to this by launching several spin-off, co-located shows: IOT Connect, AR & VR, MXR Summit, Smart Home Show and, our new launch for 2017, the Digital Health Technology Show. The reason this works for us – and our visitors – is that each of these launches has evolved organically with the industry and its needs.
The Business Travel Show has been around for more than 20 years and, over the last five, our visitor and exhibitor numbers have risen each year. It’s a very healthy show in a strong market so it doesn’t need to be co-located with another event – it would still be successful as a standalone.
The same can be said for Travel Technology Europe, which has co-located with the Business Travel Show for the last 13 years. It too has grown exponentially, especially in the last two or three years, and is a very successful and loved event.
While most shows co-locate because they share visitors, we co-locate Business Travel Show and Travel Technology Europe because there is an interesting crossover between buyers and suppliers: exhibitors at one event will be visitors at the other.
This means our exhibitors get added value and increased ROI because they can sell and buy at the same time. And our visitors can network with a much bigger pool of peers than if they were attending independent events.
A bigger show is good for us as organisers, as well. Not only does it create a really nice buzz at Olympia London, but economically and logistically it makes a lot of sense as there are cost savings to be had through, for example, shared registration and signage, and we are in a stronger place to negotiate with suppliers too.