Exhibition News September 2018 - Page 35

Taking a show to a new venue can be a terrifying decision. Will the audience come with you? Will exhibitors buy into the move? The latest EN Roundtable tackled these questions, and many more... On 14 August, a diverse group of event professionals joins EN editor Nicola Macdonald at K West Hotel in London for the latest EN Roundtable. This month, the discussion centres around the challenges, benefits and unforeseen results of moving an event to a new venue. The roundtable kicks off with Will Sorrell, MD of Designjunction, a peripatetic event that moves to a different London location each year. “We actually don't go into conventional venues,” he says. “The idea of the show was that the kind of cutting-edge contemporary design we present shouldn't be in a trade show environment, so we take over challenging industrial spaces, and they are challenging. Being a nomadic show keeps it fresh, so the business has something to say every year. “There's a lot of competition in the market, not only in the UK but in Europe as well. With this rotating program people never really know what they're going to discover when they visit, so it brings back both the trade and consumer visitors.” Part and parcel of moving an event is knowing your audience, and knowing that your visitors and exhibitors will follow you. The conversation moves to the recently rebranded Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Festival, which moved from Earl’s Court to Battersea Evolution when the former closed. Burton tells the group that the move to Battersea was largely to do with the venue’s outdoor space and that the audience demographic for the event was already predominantly south west. Macdonald asks how much the group would look at the existing audience demographics and industries around a venue before moving an event and, from a venue point of view, whether this was an area they researched. “I think every venue has this, to attract events from other venues and exhibitions.” comments Hartley. “It's tough because typically if an exhibition is doing well in a venue – and the audience is attending, the satisfaction levels are there and the price is right – it's pretty tough to prise a trade show out of one venue to another. “Consumer shows are slightly different because it tends to be a little bit more regional. There might be a great show in Manchester or down in London. It doesn't mean to say that they shouldn't consider the Midlands. In terms of attracting organisers it's incumbent on the venue to not just try and sell its exhibition halls and its space but actually talk about the strengths of the region.” McAndrew points out that the peripatetic “If you've got a really strong concept and a really strong group of people around it you can run it in a bus stop and people will come” - Mike Seaman nature of her event became a unique selling point. “Visitors were coming to see the venue in action running an event as well as the suppliers that were there,” she says. “To be honest, it was successful for us, visitors and numbers-wise until we moved it out of the main buying area and we discovered that is the City. A lot of our city buyers don't go anywhere else, so when we tried to move it even to the West End we lost all our City buyers. “However, when we have it in the City, all the other buyers still come to it, so we carried on moving it but it meant that we have to keep it within the City, which obviously has its challenges with the amount of venues that can fit an exhibition.” McAndrew and her colleagues ultimately decided to stop moving the show, and to give it a home – at least for now – at Banking Hall. If you move an event, says Seaman, the most important thing is knowing whether your audience will follow. “It's knowing which part of your audience is discretionary,” he argues. “Who are the guys that will come regardless of where you are, be that country location or around the country? We moved an event from Dubai to Istanbul, and we thought that the majority of people – because they flew in – would keep going because it's just a different airport destination. “Actually, we lost a significant portion of our key buyers because we didn't do that research in advance. I think that's the key point that I would suggest; if you are going to move venues, really drill into your audience.” Beyond the show Rushton points out that an equally important aspect of a venue move is the effect it will have on the satellite events that spring up around any trade show. “You’ve got to be aware of what goes on around your event, which maybe we don't organise ourselves,” he sa