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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