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news analysis EXHIBITION NEWSCapCo plays its handA new report published by Earls Court and Olympia owner Capital andCounties presents its intentions for the iconic west London venue. AntonyReeve-Crooklooks at what this means for the capital's exhibition industry.EXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UKAPRIL 2011 17Just weeks before the official unveiling of theEarls Court Opportunity Area (ECOA)masterplan, Capital and Counties (CapCo)gave its clearest indication yet that a renewedand expanded London Olympia is the future forwest London exhibitions.More than a year since ENfirst reported thelikely loss of the Earls Court exhibition hallsfollowing FTSE 100-listed property companyLiberty International acquiring the remaining halfof Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O), the fate ofthe exhibition halls is still far from determined.However, a 56-page financial report from CapCoshows the developer is coming closer to sealingthe fate of the London landmark.The detailShould approval of its 77-acre masterplan begranted, CapCo confirmed it intends to move allof Earls Court 1 and 2's exhibitions into anenhanced London Olympia. "A detailed mapping exercise has beenundertaken to determine the transition ofbusiness from both venues to an enhancedOlympia facility," the CapCo report stated. "Thisanalysis indicates a 70 per cent utilisation rate atthe new Olympia building format could beachieved, sustaining 65-75 per cent of theexisting EBITDA of the business." Tellingly for the exhibition industry, CapCoattributed the decision - at least partly - to thereduced need for 10,000sqm+ exhibitions inwest London."The average size of shows in this sector isfalling, with an estimated 80 per cent nowrequiring less than 100,000 square feet[10,000sqm]," CapCo stated in the report."Building on this strength, the group isdeveloping Olympia's potential to become theprime venue for both consumer and tradeexhibitions and shows in central."If there was any doubt, the developmentmasterplan by head architect Sir Terry Farrell forthe full 77-acre site, which incorporates landowned by CapCo, London Borough ofHammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) andTransport for London (TfL), does not include theexhibition halls. Instead, it is described as a"residential-led, mixed-use redevelopment"comprising a high street and four connectedurban villages. A clearer pathIn terms of demolishing the halls, little stands inCapCo's way. In January, the companysuccessfully gained immunity from listing EarlsCourt until 2016. In addition, Olympia has beenthe sole subject of EC&O's plans for venueenhancement and a £20m redevelopmentproject is now underway. CapCo's property plans are also protectedagainst activity from residents occupying theestates on the London Borough ofHammersmith and Fulham share of the site.The media would have us believe the fate ofEarls Court is in the council's hands, thanksto resident-empowering housing act Section34A. But according to CapCo, each owner'sstake in the masterplan can be developedindividually. "It is possible LBHF or TfL may choose notto participate in the future of the masterplan,for example should Section 34A of theHousing Act 1985 result in LBHF beingunable to secure vacant possession of itsland interests," CapCo said. "The masterplanhas been designed such that eachlandowner's interest is individuallyimplementable, although we believe SirTerry's vision for the full ECOA would bringsubstantial benefits to the entire area."Resolution?The bottom line, as EC&O group MD NigelNathan says, is Earls Court "doesn't close untilit closes". Until then, the venue will continue toserve the capital. The cloud of doubt will hang heavy over EarlsCourt for months to come. With Earls CourtOne scheduled for demolition as early as Q3,2012, the future is clearly in Olympia. CapCo's recently confirmed talks with HongKong investors show financiers are also keento press ahead with the 77-acre development.But we could be waiting a long time before thebulldozers surround Earls Court.EN03/2011CapCo buysremainingshares inEC&O Venues.LondonOlympia's£20mredevelopmentgets planningconsent.Residents couldget power toprevent theirestates beingdemolished underSection 34A of theHousing Act 1985.CapCo confirmsinvestmenttalks with aHong Konginvestor tofinancedevelopment.Masterplan of ECOA is unveiled to the public aswell as at the MIPIM property show in Cannes.CapCo adjusts 2010 earningsdown 39% to £9.2m. EC&O Venuesturnover is down 9.3% to £50.7m.Road to development01/2010 10/201101/201102/2011The proposedcompletion datefor LondonOlympia's £20menhancement.CapCo to submit planningapplication for the 77-acre site.06/20112012The earliest possible date for EarlsCourt Exhibition Centre closure.Q3/2012New-look Olympia

What makes a "big" exhibitionsuccessful? Is there an ideal sweetspot in terms of show size? Doesindustry maturity and the exhibition's agehave anything to do with it? Or is it in factdependent on whether your exhibitors areproduct-oriented? And how does co-locationfit in the equation? ENasked organisers to weigh up the pros andcons of delivering a broad-based exhibitionversus a small, niche event, and to provideexamples of where each approach works best. How big is too big foran exhibition? Laura BiggsMD BBC HaymarketHaving enough buyersand sellers that matcheach others' needs isthe key ingredient forany size of show. Froma consumer point of view, a show can be toobig when it is difficult to see or enjoy themajority of it in a day. A few years back we organised the SummerFestival at The NEC that covered gardening,homes, food as well as areas dedicated tooverseas property and evening concerts. In hindsight, the 'day out' had become toobig and as a result lost some of its appeal tothe core audience who essentially wanted agardening and food show. Therefore we nowhave Gardeners World Live and Summer Foodsitting happily alongside each other. It hastaken a couple of years for the more loyalvisitors to embrace the new format, butequally for new visitors co-location has provenan attractive proposition and been essentialfor the development of both shows. For BBC Haymarket, co-location alsohelped with the recent acquisition of The WineShow, which historically struggled to be acommercially viable show runningindependently. This year we ran The WineShow alongside Masterchef Live and while ithad its challenges, ultimately the crossover ofaudience and the economy of scale of runningboth shows at the same time worked.Audiences are seeking better value for moneyand a tangible reason to come along to showsin the consumer sector. Tickets are notpurchased on a whim, so it is essential thatour shows represent excellent value for moneyand are too good to miss. The size, scale andeditorial content as well as the option to gointo another show for the same ticket price isdefinitely a plus.However, you can get it wrong if the showgets too big and loses its relevance to yourcore audience. With any business, yourcustomers will tell you pretty quickly if theythink you're getting the content or size of theshow wrong. We are focusing more and moreon customer feedback and acting on it.Peter JonesMD Niche EventsA show can never betoo big, so long as thevisitors show up. In myopinion, there is nosweet spot and noideal size. Industriesare like sand dunes: They never cease toevolve. My advice is to keep selling, developingand attracting more relevant visitors.Niche Events was established nine years agoand in 2007 we decided to slot under the wingof industry legend Phil Soar. As chairman, oneof Phil's duties is to offer a sanity check. Themoment we stray from our three simpleprinciples (selling square metres, deliveringvisitors and banking cheques) we are quicklyreminded of our lunacy, which also helps keepour shows on track. Too many people agonise over reports,studies and analysis. Then they hold lots ofmeetings to discuss the previous three. I thinkyou're much better off reading a couple ofindustry magazines over a morning coffee,then calling target visitors and asking themwhat they're looking for. Once you've done that, call target exhibitorsand share your new-found invaluablewisdom. It'll make you sound really intelligentand trustworthy enough to invest in booking astand. Sell as many stands as you can and then aftereach show listen to what the exhibitors andvisitors had to say, tune the format of the showand hit them again for next year. Why should itbe more complicated than that? Just stay close to your majors (exhibitors andvisitors) and the rest of the industry will follow.The one thing I would suggest is adding lots ofcontent. People love free educational contentas well as seeing lots of exhibitors - it justifiestheir day out, which is especially importantgiven the current economic climate. Donna BushellEvent directorFavershamHouseHow big is too big foran exhibition? If it islarger than the venue itis being held in!Seriously, it does depend on the exhibition inquestion and the industries it is representing.Some sectors have a larger product and servicesrange. You will also find a number of exhibitionsthat have been co-located because of similarvisitor profiles. Then there's the fact thatorganisers need to give more reasons to a visitorto attend an event. This also leads to additionalareas or features of interest. Having said that, some exhibitions areimpossible to get around in a day and quiteoften a day is all the time a buyer has. Yet toosmall a show will not attract the number ofvisitors that a larger event does - especiallyas 'exhibitor marketing' is key in attractingpeople to a show. One solution is to have focused events takingplace at the same time. With our SustainabilityLive exhibition there are five key exhibitions thathave major crossover interest which works wellgetting the buyers there.A dedicated niche exhibition and conferencecan work well if you have an audience that justwants to meet a specific set of buyers. It's allabout meeting expectations and if theexhibitors get the ROI they expect. This could beachieved even if that they only see adozen relevant visitors. It's better than meetinghundreds who are not relevant. So what makes a "big" exhibition successful? A good mix of exhibiting companies offering thewidest possible range of products and servicesof interest, good branding, a huge amountof targeted marketing to promote focusedareas that are relevant to particular buyers,free seminar programmes, interesting featureareas and a chance to network with like-minded people.ENEXHIBITION NEWShead-to-head18APRIL 2011EXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UKCan a trade or consumer show get too big for its boots? ENasks threeorganisers for their opinion on when to limit an exhibition's size.Does size matter?Q