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
EXHIBITION NEWSfeature26APRIL 2011EXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UKwith the organiser," said CEA CE and Plantworxevent director Rob Oliver. "Going back in myrecollection, about 20 years, we were startingto lobby to have a show every two yearsinstead of every year, so it wouldn't conflict withHillhead, which is the industry's biggest eventand takes place every two years."What exhibitors liked was their ability todemonstrate their equipment. After all, thename of the show has the worddemonstration in it. At Rockingham, therewasn't space for digging."CEA had several amicable meetings withReed on the latest communication frommembers as well as concerns over the lack ofdemonstration facilities, Oliver said. AlthoughReed listened and was responsive, it wasrestricted by a 10-year contract withRockingham. The organiser had also investedheavily in the local infrastructure."We felt we had limited influence and thathad been the case for a number of years,"Oliver added.Plantworx launches at Stoneleigh Park,Warwickshire in May 2013.The venue: NEC BirminghamThe NEC in Birmingham reported a fifth of newbusiness during 2010 was from tradeassociation-owned events. "We're seeing real growth in the tradeassociation market. They're now accounting forbigger percentages of overall new businessthan we've ever seen before," said NEC venuesales director Richard Pegler."With this comes a clear trend in increasedspace commitments. For example, two newlaunches from trade associations in 2010, UKAD and Biogas and NACFB CommercialFinance Expo, have both upped their spacerequirements by over 25 per cent - that's asignificant increase."Pegler attributed the rise in association-ledevents to rising demand for in-depth content. "Content is becoming more and moreimportant to trade shows," he claimed. "Yearsago they were a simplistic way of seeing whatwas in the market. Now it's more aboutinsight and people wanting more content, anda lot of that knowledge rests with associations.As we see more specific niches appear we areseeing an increase in the number ofassociations that support those. "Associations are entering markets becausethey are knowledge aggregators: It's natural forthem to deliver content to their membersthrough events. You have got moreassociations appearing for niche markets andmarkets wanting more content."Although Pegler doubts this is a true portentof the way things are going, there are severalpotential factors contributing to the increase inassociation-led events. First, falling tenancyrates due to oversupply of venue space couldbe encouraging frugal associations to comeout and begin organising their own events. Secondly, as shows become more verticaland specialised, they may become moreaccessible for corresponding specialisedassociations. Not only that but the morespecialised an event becomes, the morenecessary it might be for whoever organises itto have first-hand knowledge of the audience. Despite the hurdles, Pegler said associationsand organisers could sit alongside each otherbut he suggested organisers needed toimprove their industry understanding. "I'm not saying it's an exclusive situationand I'm not saying in 10 years' time we won'tsee private organisers doing it, but there isclearly a balance to be struck," he added."It's no longer enough just to have a productshowcase; you also need to engage peopleand create communities."Finding the way forwardSome organisers claim first-hand knowledgeof the target market isn't necessary torunning a successful event, but the number oftimes we've seen associations going it aloneand claiming privately-run organisers nolonger listen to them suggests otherwise. Andas shows become more content driven, it willbe the associations that hold the keys to thelibrary for their respective industries.Regardless of the difficulties, there is still aplace for the professional organiser. AsBrintex's example demonstrates,associations and private exhibitionorganisers can have close, complementaryrelationships provided communication andrespect is the order of the day.This makes intuitive sense when you think ofan exhibition as a business facilitator: Theorganiser provides the form, while theassociation pours in the content to fill it.ENMalcolm TaylorRichard PeglerRob OliverAssociation business:Show:Site Equipment DemonstrationOrganiser: Reed ExhibitionsAssociation: Construction EquipmentAssociationWhat happened:Cancelled andreplaced by association-organisedPlantworx.Show:Amusement Trades ExhibitionOrganiser:ClarionAssociation:BACTAWhat happened:Three years afterselling the show, BACTA launched acompeting event, resulting in a splitmarket.Show: The Big Scuba ShowOrganiser:Dive Magazine Association: British Sub-Aqua ClubWhat happened:After withdrawingsupport for the London InternationalDive Show, BSAC backed The BigScuba Show's launch one monthahead of it.Show: The Boat and Caravan ShowOrganiser:ClarionAssociation:National CaravanCouncilWhat happened:NCC took overClarion's Midlands event andsubsequently launched againstOcean's Boat and Caravan Show.The story continues.