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EXHIBITION NEWSfeatureTrade associations and exhibitionorganisers can be great partners. Bysupporting an event, an association cangive access to industry-leading exhibitors,provide market insight and influence theirmembers to attend. In return, associationsget the benefits of experienced exhibitionveterans, not to mention a terrific opportunityfor broader branding and publicity.However, things can go sour. In the last year,we've seen a number of examples of industryassociations taking events out of the hands ofprivate organisers, or withdrawing theirpartnerships and launching their own show.For an organiser, suddenly losing the supportof the association can be like having thecarpet pulled out from under you.You've seen several of these covered in ENin the last year or so. The gaming,construction, diving and caravanningexhibition landscapes have all undergonesignificant changes due in part to theorganiser's relationship with associations.One association which hugely impacted thefate of an exhibition comes from within the UKgaming industry. Clarion bought AmusementTrades Exhibition (ATEi) from Britishamusement industry BACTA in 2006, signing athree-year, non-compete agreement. However,when that had expired, the association cameswooping back and launched a directlycompetitive event in 2009. The decision split the market and resulted inClarion holding ICE Totally Gaming at EarlsCourt and catering to the bigger-game casinomarket, while BACTA occupied the electronicgaming market with the EAG Expo at ExcelLondon.Late last year, Dive Magazinegot the incentiveit needed to launch The Big Scuba Show atLondon Olympia after gaining the support ofthe British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC). TheAssociations are stepping up to the plate and organising their own events.Should organisers be alarmed? MIKE TRUDEAU assesses the threat. 24APRIL 2011EXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UKassociationHonourby

publishing company launched its show onemonth ahead of direct competitor, the LondonInternational Dive Show (LIDS), scheduled torun at London Excel from 26 to 27 March.In this case, the chief blow against LIDS wasBSAC's decision to leave one and back theother. In response to losing BSAC, LIDSexhibition manager Richard Thompson told ENthe show began working with a broader rangeof global industry associations including theUS-based Professional Association of DivingInstructors (ADI). The immediate partneringwith ADI demonstrates the importance ofhaving association support.In the wake of Reed's Site EquipmentDemonstration (SED) show collapse, theindustry association launched its own event,saying it can better represent the interests of itsmembers than a private organiser.Of course, this article wouldn't be completewithout touching on the caravan fiasco thatunfolded this year. After seizing control ofClarion's Caravan and Motorhome event in theMidlands, the National Caravan Council (NCC)announced its intention to launch a secondevent, the NCC Motorhome, Caravan andCamping show, in February 2012 at ExcelLondon. The event sees NCC memberswithdrawing support from Ocean's Boat andCaravan Show at The NEC. So is the end of the world nigh for privateexhibition organisers? Are associations thebarbarians at the proverbial gates, or can theystay lucrative partners? The organiser: BrintexExhibition organiser Brintex Events has found aniche for itself organising shows specifically forindustry associations. Its MD Malcolm Taylorsaid there are no signs of associations takingover his events."It has always been part of Brintex historyworking with the leading trade associationsfor the industry - when I joined it was thenorm," said Taylor. "To me, it is a method ofvery quickly securing the invaluable supportof the exhibitors."There is a financial reason for both parties topartner and become involved, Taylor explained.For example, discounts offered to exhibitorswho are members of the association oftenoutweigh the yearly membership fees. "It's often cheaper for a non-member tobecome a member than to exhibit withoutbeing a member," he said. "It's worth themanufacturer's while to join the association,and it encourages non-members to join just toexhibit at the show. That's a major incentive."So the association gets its publicity andswells its ranks, but what's in it for theorganiser? "It's a mechanism to ensure you have themarket-leading companies taking part, but theassociation has got to deliver on that. For alaunch show it can be absolutely marvellous,"Taylor said.However, there are pitfalls to watch out for.These days everyone is looking to cut costs,or at least be seen to be doing so. This isespecially true for publicly-fundedassociations, and it could tempt associationsto sever ties with profit-seeking privateorganisers.Ten years ago, Brintex witnessed this first-hand after a new trade body formed in thehealth service called the NHS Confederation."When that body was formed by theGovernment they quite rightly decided thereshould be a conference and exhibition heldevery year for its members," Taylor said. "Itemployed three staff of its own to organisethe event and they did it twice and notparticularly well." With a track record in health events andworking with associations, the NHSConfederation agreed to work with Brintex toorganise the show. However, when the secondedition rolled around, the deal was off."They said they would have to give us noticebecause they couldn't allow a third party tomake quite so much profit," said Taylor. "Theyalso claimed it would be cheaper for them toemploy a couple of people, and that we hadshown them how to do it." Taylor added this danger is more commonwith public-sector bodies because ofpressure to keep costs down. On the flipside, one key way an organiser ensures itsrelevance is by assuming the commercial riskand paying the bills. "Often the associations are very scaredabout commercial risk so if you take that on,it gives you more security," Taylor claimed. Inaddition, an organiser that can be flexible,demonstrates business and financial skillsand commitment to the long-termsustainability of an event can secure "anincredible amount of loyalty"."If you deliver really good events for theassociation you should have a fantasticfuture," Taylor said. "There are someassociations we have worked with for morethan 20 years. And if you are in with themarket-leading trade association, it isn't easyfor some other organiser to come in andcompete against you."The association: CEAAs an organiser, you can't take the associationfor granted. Don't be tempted into thinking youknow the market better than they do, becausechances are you don't. Reed Exhibitions ran an annual constructionequipment show for decades with thesupport of the Construction EquipmentAssociation (CEA). However, when it took thedecision to move from Milton Keynes toRockingham, Corby, in 2006 against theadvice of the association, the show wiltedand collapsed in 2010. Soon after, CEAannounced the launch of its own biennialevent, Plantworx, to the collected approval ofthe industry. As CEA put it, members would finally get anevent run by people who knew whatexhibitors wanted.Unlike other examples given in this feature,there was no overtly hostile action taken by theassociation. Instead, it simply grabbed thereins after the privately-organised event folded."The show was going for over 40 years, andmost of the time we had a positive relationship"Working with associations is a mechanism to ensure you havethe market-leading companies taking part, but the associationhas got to deliver on that."feature EXHIBITION NEWSEXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UKAPRIL 2011 25