Exhibitions have to stay small but add sparkle

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Alison Church: people need 'a very good reason' to get out of the office to atttend an industry show
Alison Church: people need 'a very good reason' to get out of the office to atttend an industry show

Related tags: Rate of return, Exhibition, Investment

UK packaging industry shows are striking a difficult balance between staying compact and cost-efficient for exhibitors while working harder to attract ever more elusive visitors.

No one is expecting a return to exhibitions on a scale last seen in the 1990s. But within these contained expectations, show organisers are optimistic.

They agree, though, it is getting tougher to attract ‘high-quality’ visitors, and this requires multi-layered promotion, along with the continual interest of new features. At the same time, they need to persuade and – often educate – exhibitors about assessing return on investment (ROI).

‘Increasingly stretched’

“With the economy as it is, people are increasingly stretched, and need a very good reason to get out of the office for an industry show,”​ said Alison Church event director at easyFairs, which organises the Packaging Innovations show.

But much of their optimism comes from the fact that face-to-face events appear to have survived the initial onslaught of online alternatives. “That said, any exhibition worth its salt will provide an enhanced website, including apps, online brochures, clear product searches, and so on,”​ said group exhibitions manager at the Processing & Packaging Machinery Association (PPMA) David Harrison.

It is significant that two of the ‘survivors’ in this sector, easyFairs and the PPMA Show, positioned themselves as being sales-focused, time-efficient for visitors and cost-efficient for exhibitors. Both began as shell-scheme-only shows, but have since adapted to allow a self-build element.

‘What the cost is going to be

“However exhibitors choose to do this, it is important they have a clear idea what the cost is going to be,”​ says Church at easyFairs.

The PPMA last year took the organisation of its own equipment show back in-house after 12 years of management by Reed Exhibitions. It has also acquired the Total Processing & Packaging, Pakex and Interphex names.

Harrison said: “The traditional seminar format is a little in the past.”​ But at the same time, visitors are as hungry for information as they are for new products. “You have to entice visitors with content that will feed into their basic fear and greed.”

The next PPMA Show will be in 2014, while Packaging Innovations London is from October 1–2 2013.

Meanwhile, Foodex 2014​ will take place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham between March 24–26 2014. 

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