When is the right time?

It’s all very well having a successful show, but how do UK exhibition organisers replicate their success across the country and overseas? Three event profs share their experiences

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James Prosser, MD, Front Events

James Prosser, MD, Front Events

There is always a sense of nervousness and trepidation whenever you launch a new exhibition, or a new edition of a successful show in another location.

 

Before launching a new version of a show, it helps knowing that you’ve run successful events in the past. Having the right formula is crucial and, indeed once you’ve hit upon this, it’s relatively easy to replicate it in other venues. As most will know, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

 

It’s also important to know the industry well; by understanding the universe of your show, you should have a strong handle on whether new versions of that show are going to work. For instance, Financial Services Expo (FSE) is predominantly aimed at financial advisers, brokers and intermediaries and these people are based right across the country and number in the region of 20,000-plus.

 

It’s become clear to us that people are no longer willing to travel the length and breadth of the country to visit a show. We have to be on their doorstep, or at least a quick drive away.

 

Finally, it’s important to get the right venue. There has been an upsurge in available venues right across the country, particularly sporting stadiums, many of which are not in city centres.

 

At the end of the day, you’ll have to try it out to see if it works. Only then will you know if you’ve got it right.

Neil Felton, CEO, FESPA

Neil Felton, CEO, FESPA

The simple answer would be, when the market wants it. To launch a new edition of a show you need to put the groundwork in, research the market entirely and be totally plugged in to what is going on, both culturally and from a business point of view.

 

When we are looking to launch a new show we gather as much insight as possible, working with local partners and associations to really get to know the market and what the audience need from the event. From my point of view, 18 months – from launch to the event opening – is the ideal timeline.

 

This provides enough time to speak with professionals and organisations in the local market and mould this information to tailor the show to the audience.

 

At FESPA, we aim to be a listening organisation. Working closely with - and listening to – our global community helps us to identify where there is a gap in the market and where our community would benefit from a FESPA event. We’ve launched several successful shows in growing economies, taking the calibre of our international flagship event in Europe and tailoring it to the local market in Mexico, Brazil, Africa, Turkey and China.

 

Most recently we’ve launched a show in Asia where we are working with our Asian associations and local partners to create the best event for both exhibitors and visitors.

Tom Treverton, UK portfolio director, F2F Events

Tom Treverton, UK portfolio director, F2F Events

Never an easy decision but, for us gauging the right time to launch The Allergy & Free From Show into new UK and international locations was made more straightforward given our confidence in significant visitor demand.

 

In London, we had established a market leading show. We understood visitor needs and had gained trust amongst the key players within the freefrom industry. Crucially, we knew we had a regional visitor base, yet we also knew there were huge numbers outside London that wanted a show nearer them.

 

We agreed on the number of exhibitors needed to make a new launch work, then periodically canvassed customer opinions until enough said, ‘yes, in principle’. We also ring-fenced regional prospects that declined participation at the London show due to the distances involved.

 

This process prompted green lights for shows three and four (Berlin and Glasgow, respectively). Berlin came with a few more caveats, of course, but the principle was the same. We knew visitors wanted the show, so the question was: can we deliver a group of exhibitors that will do justice to the show brand and also ensure our existing events in the portfolio continue their growth, unabated?

 

Finally, despite confidence in visitor demand, our venue selection within targeted new regions became as much about marketing support as it did about space and price.

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