Poorly Planned Exhibitions Can Cost Participants Dearly

Riot police called to fashion and lifestyle exhibition at EventCity after crowds ‘fail to turn up‘. An unusual but true headline from the Manchester Evening News this week.

For any company, participating in an event or exhibition it is a major decision and a significant commitment of time and financial resources. Tens of thousands of pounds is often the minimum spend needed to buy space, provide and staff a stand, market the presence and work through post show feedback.

In the case of the fashion and lifestyle exhibition citied in the MEN report, it seems the organiser may have over promised on the attendance of crowd pulling celebrities and marketing reach. Whatever the cause, they were not keen to face the wrath of exhibitors.

A figure, besides the lack of visitors, quoted in the article caused me some concern. One exhibitor is quoted as spending £20,000 to participate in the expectation that there would be 2000 attendees (20,000 were promised according to one exhibitor who left a comment to the article on the MEN website) over the weekend. As it turned out only 500 came, but even if 2000 (or 20,000) did make it, is that £20,000 wisely spent?

Leaving aside the vast number of tyre-kickers such events attract, it is extremely unlikely that anything more than a small percentage of visitors would have been directly interested in the products of any one exhibitor. That is just the way of exhibitions.

In terms of directly reaching target customers £20,000 is a very useful sum of money. Without substantial evidence of the expected demographic of those mainly absent visitors and analysis of past events by the organiser at this particular venue, I would have been inclined to give it a miss and seek alternatives.

The Exhibiting Successfully checklist on this site provides some useful tips to consider before you part with your cash: https://freepradvice.wordpress.com/pr-checklists-a-l/exhibiting-successfully/

Adrian Maguire, Partner, Ainsworth Maguire Public Relations

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