Exhibition News November 2018 - Page 33

sumer event out there now – like BodyPower and Comic Con – probably have 85 per cent pre-purchased tickets and this makes up a large proportion of overall incomes. If the product is right for the market and people know there is going to be a capacity issue, then they will book in advance. They want to belong to the community. They get kudos in social media by saying they have already got their tickets.” Nolan is the first person I’ve spoken to with experience of events that have a reliance on walk-ups. Many other shows he mentioned in our conversation are no longer with us which perhaps explains the perception that an investor might have. Maybe reliance on walk-ups is the old way and consumer shows have now adapted to become less reliant on walk-ups? This is backed up by Rob Nathan, group marketing director at Media 10, who says: “It often depends on the location – we see higher walk- ups in Scotland than in London but regardless of the location the number is decreasing and at a rapid rate. People tend to plan further in advance, recognising that most events offer discounts for earlier bookings, and as organisers we’d prefer to have the surety of the visitor numbers rather than relying on pay-on-the-day visitors. I’d hazard a guess that across the consumer landscape walk-ups account for less than ten per cent of ticket revenue.” Changing habits As Rob says, perhaps consumer show visitors have changed their habits too. A committed visitor will plan and buy a ticket earlier, thus reducing the risk of walk- up revenues affecting profits. Rob went on to say: “I think we’ve all had experiences of adverse weather – and yes, it can have a dramatic impact. If you have a high walk-up gate or a free-ticket model event then you are at the mercy of the weather as the audience hasn’t financially invested in the event, even if they are emotionally invested. Earlier this year the weather had a dramatic impact on some events, the snow made travel impossible for many to get Confex, and on the opening morning of the Ideal Home Show we were faced with a blizzard and weather reports advising people to stay at home. “It’s not just snow. I’ve worked on events when there has been a sudden mini-heatwave in May – people head for the park, the pub, the garden…pretty much anywhere but an exhibition centre if they are not emotionally wedded to that event. If they absolutely see it as vital they will attend, come hell or high water, so that’s the lesson: put on events that people simply cannot afford to miss.” For me this is the crux of the debate, if your show is unmissable then people will get there! I witnessed this first-hand during the ‘Beast from the East’ in March this year. At both Confex and a conference called PAY360, the weather seemingly galvanised the audience to attend to demonstrate their support for the community. 33 “Conventional wisdom is wrong – consumer events offer a very similar investment proposition to B2B events” To conclude, I believe that consumer events have changed and so have attendees. Walk-ups are no longer a key source of revenue for many consumer event organisers and the business models for B2C and B2B events have drifted closer together. Consumer events that have significant ticket revenues are finding ways to secure these ahead of time to reduce the impact of any issues on the day. If this is correct, then the conventional wisdom is wrong and consumer events offer a very similar investment proposition to B2B events. As Piers Bearne from Collingwood Advisory states: “Not all corporates are buying B2C exhibitions. However, we are seeing that acquirers are looking for consumer events that behave like high quality tradeshows, with high levels of revenue retention, year-round visitor engagement and dominant market share.” So, the solution is clear, whether you work in B2B or a B2C - make your event unmissable and the audience will come. EN exhibitionnews.co.uk | November 2018