The UK live event marketing sector can see ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’, according to industry voice, the Events Industry Alliance. The London Evening Standard newspaper picked up on the fact in its 5 May edition that the Gadget Show Live at the Birmingham NEC was a sell out. Other figures cited in the Standard, using EIA statistics, were the following increases in visitor attendance:
33.4% at Ecobuild & Futurebuild (Earls Court)
22% at Railtex (Earls Court)
15% at The Convenience Retailing Show (NEC)
12% at The Care Show (Bournemouth International Centre)
10% at Surfaces Design Show (Business Design Centre, London)
10% at The Hotel & Catering Show (Bournemouth International Centre)
6% at The Baby Show with Prima Baby (Excel, London)
6% at The International Forecourt & Fuel Equipment Show (NEC)
5% at International Confex (Earls Court)
Other events have seen smaller increases, the EIA states, and more have maintained previous attendance levels, which, says the association “in this economic climate is no mean feat”.
It is not only the visitor numbers that exhibiting companies are commenting on.
The quality of visitors attending B2B shows has also improved with few ‘tyre kickers’ now in evidence. Mike Eggerton of Host Von Schrader who exhibited at The Cleaning Show in March at the NEC says, “We have taken significantly more sales leads than at previous shows, in addition, we have taken orders for machines there and then on the stand which doesn’t happen very often.”
Richard Johnson, Cleanfix expressed similar sentiments commenting, “We have had a fantastic show, we have exceeded our targets and are delighted with the quality of sales leads, the show has been far better than we ever expected.”
The president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, Moray MacLennan appeared to support the green shoots of recovery optimism cited by the EIA when he commented on its ‘Bellwether 2009 Q1 Report’ findings saying, “This data supports the view that the bottom of the market has been reached. It will be a long road to full recovery, but this maybe the turning point. It’s good to see a graph going in the right direction for a change.”
“Trust, especially in the current environment, is a very valued commodity,” say the EIA. “Meeting and interacting with real people at events engenders trust in the hundreds of thousands of brands that use live event marketing every year. Visitors to B2C shows as well as trade buyers, attend events for many and varied reasons, but on a purely practical level, there is simply no substitute for talking face to face with people that can answer questions directly. No matter how much online research is undertaken, there is no better medium than a live encounter to seal the critical ’trust factor’ and confirm confidence in a business, brand or product.
“On the other side of the fence, suppliers enjoy the benefits of exhibiting because it allows them to get product into the hands of potential buyers, and to deliver that all important ‘brand experience’ through direct ‘engagement’ – two current marketing mantras. While many routes to market are suffering, live event marketing is more than holding its own, as consumers and the business community invest their valuable time and money in proven methods that deliver real results.”