Why are there so many trade shows? Do they have a future? You might say that I would say that wouldn’t I, but knowing the power of HotelDesigns as a web vehicle for advertisers I walk around trade shows wondering at the cost in time money etc. employed, against the kind of return.
Lately HotelDesigns has been averaging over 3,800 readers a day, some 115,000 visitors in a month, so a trade show that boasts of less than 4,000 visitors over 3 days does not impress. Couple this with a stand price of some £15,000 plus accommodation, staff costs, stand design and transport and it all starts to be a little baffling to me.
Where trade shows score of course is in the face to face contact, hand shaking and socialising. The latest recruit to the seemingly never ending stream of events is the May Design series at Excel. Excel is not a popular show venue, located as it in Docklands. Discussing this with people on stands talking of awful journey times of two hours from South London never mind the time it takes to get there from Manchester or Seaford reminds me of how much Earls Court will be missed. I make getting to Excel a bit of fun by Tubing it to North Greenwich and then getting the Emirates cable car across the river (flea free unlike a recent flight with the airline).
I have watched Docklands develop since the day I took a client along what is now the runway at Docklands Airport trying to show him how viable the area was for an hotel. He laughed at me then but the rash of neighbouring hotels (such as the adjacent A-loft) now open, and the first floatel in London along with over half million passengers arriving at the airport illustrate how designers can have a vision missing elsewhere…
Inside the hall there were an awful lot of young people making it look quite busy, but this was not the show but students of Regent and another London University using the location for their exam boards. Once through this throng the show itself was anything but busy. Indeed some stands were not even manned as bored sales staff absconded in the absence of visitors. It was possible to look down aisles and see no-one else.
The mix of stands was also weird with highly respected contract sales companies rubbing shoulders with strange retail outfits covering the cheap end of the market. One or two suppliers with both a contract arm and a retail side were happy with this mix, but some companies will not be returning as they felt the show lacked focus. With nothing there to hold the professional designers who surely do not buy retail, some of the talks were being delivered to only half a dozen people.