The price of free speech?

Supplier and ContractorsReftech
Microphone-stock-new-resized.jpg

Letting speakers pay to host sessions might work once, but in the long term visitors will feel disappointed and duped, says Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer at RefTech.

 

I received a phone call the other day from an exhibition organiser who read one of my articles and was very keen for me to speak at their forthcoming event. My PR was elated and quickly called them to discuss and find out more.

 

For those of you who know me, you will know that I’ve been rather outspoken in the past – saying that you get what you pay for with speakers, and that good speakers are hard to find. In my experience many of the free sessions you attend at trade exhibitions are simply thinly-veiled sales pitches. The speaker isn’t paid to speak, so they want their money’s worth from the session and use it to sell to the audience.

 

Imagine my PR’s delight when the organiser told her that there was a fee associated with speaking – wow she thought, at last there’s a company who wants to ensure good speaker content and is prepared to have some control over it by entering into a paid contract with the speaker.

 

But how quickly that delight disintegrated when it became clear that it would be us paying them for the privilege of speaking. And it wasn’t cheap either – the cost for a 45 minute masterclass (plus other associated advertising) was £3,000.

 

This exhibition is running seminar sessions that are the live equivalent of advertorials. The Advertising Standard Authority has very strict and clear guidelines and states that advertorials (or any paid for content that could look like editorial) should be clearly marked and distinguishable from pure editorial.

 

But when you look at this exhibition’s website, these sessions are billed as masterclasses – as sessions to help the visitor, to educate them and to impart knowledge. So how annoyed will that visitor be when they find out that the masterclass is a sales pitch? And how much more annoyed would they be if they ever found out that the presenting company paid a lot of money for that 45 minute sales slot?

 

Will that visitor return home with a great exhibition experience and want to return next year or will they feel disappointed, duped and unlikely to return? In my book it is deceitful and disrespectful to the visitor and their precious time.

 

Businesses and events should be in it for the long haul. They should be honest with their clients, and build relationships that have longevity and substance. There will always be shows that come and go, but those that stand the test of time have built up good, solid and truthful relationships with their visitors and exhibitors.

Simon Clayton
Posted by Simon Clayton
PopularComments
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

UFI and Explori sign three-year partnership

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has signed a three-year research partnership deal with London based insight specialists, Explori.

Freeman invests in Feathr

Freeman has become a key investor in Feathr, the data-driven event personalisation company.

RefTech wins British Toy and Hobby Association contract

The British Toy and Hobby Association has appointed RefTech for a three year contract to handle visitor registration and badging for its annual Toy Fair event.

Others on EN

Going all out

Going all out

Lee Moulson, regional head of sales at Cheltenham Racecourse and the South West region of The Jockey Club, says seeing a client’s beaming smile cannot be bettered.
In any event...

In any event...

In his regular column, David Chalmers, Cvent ’s senior marketing director – Europe, speculates on the fate of the large trade show.
Ticking all the boxes

Ticking all the boxes

Paul Edwards, operations director at deckle edge, examines the minefield that is health and safety.

Poken by GES

Most Read Stories

Fit for the 21st century

Fit for the 21st century

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director, says we should always fight to bring talent into the industry and encourage an appetite for success.
I'm a believer

I'm a believer

Sam Cande, group commercial director at Centaur Media, says no secret sales technique can compete with belief in a product.
Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry, director of Easyfairs UK addresses the science behind operations and the profile of our audiences.

Latest News

UFI and Explori sign three-year partnership

UFI and Explori sign three-year partnership

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has signed a three-year research partnership deal with London based insight specialists, Explori.
Media 10 summer party gives back to the community

Media 10 summer party gives back to the community

On 30 June, local pensioners were invited to a morning of live entertainment and high tea put on by Media10, with a fundraising initiative supporting charity War Child and a rare Spitfire performance.
Major new event campus coming to Newcastle Gateshead

Major new event campus coming to Newcastle Gateshead

A new multi million pound, state-of-the-art entertainment arena, and conference and exhibition centre is set for the North East, as plans by Gateshead Council push forward.

Latest Features

Ripping up the rule book

Ripping up the rule book

Automechanika is a well-known global brand, so what happened when it launched in the UK?
On the road

On the road

Ed Vickery head of drpexhibition, discusses driveable, portable, and innovative exhibitions.
Standing out from the crowd

Standing out from the crowd

EN meets the industry’s stand designers, who are helping change the face of exhibitions around the globe.

Latest Galleries

East of England Arena and Events Centre open day

East of England Arena and Events Centre open day

Following a refurbishment, rebrand and £4.4m investment, the East of England Arena and Events centre opened to event professionals on 21 June to explains developments at the venue and provide an insight into future plans. Guests were also treated to a once in a lifetime experience in various classic cars and more unusual vehicles.
London Dungeon Lates

London Dungeon Lates

The London Dungeons has launched a unique nighttime experience with the theme of the seven deadly sins. The adults only tour includes seven themed food offerings and a range of themed drinks.
This Morning Live

This Morning Live

Tens of thousands of fans descended on the NEC on 18-21 May for This Morning Live, to see talent from ITVs award-winning daytime programme arrive in style.