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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.

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