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@whatever you want it to be.The east of england's leading, multi-purpose events complex - Call 01733 363500or visit: www.peterborougharena.com7 indoor exhibitionand entertainment venues250 acresof outdoor spaceWithin 2 hours travelling distance for over 25% of the UK's populationExcellent road, rail and air linksParking for 22,000 vehiclesPeterborough Arena, East of England Showground, Peterborough PE2 6XE

As with all forms of 'discounter' products, the offering has been adapted considerably. For example, promotion is primarily limited to business relations of the exhibitors, thereby limiting the effect of new business. Visitor registration and badging are not used and Internet-related communications are virtually non-existent. The organiser claims that by keeping things simple, they can offer full service at highly reduced rates. But does this have a down side? Firstly, you must ask yourself: 'What do exhibitors really want from their participation?' If it is simply to meet an (undetermined) audience on the cheap, that's fi ne. But if exhibitors want intensive contact before, during and after the event, this becomes diffi cult with the discounted alternative. In particular, the larger companies exhibit as an integral part of their marketing and communications strategies. Their strategy is built around defi ned targets and ROI benchmarks. They cannot achieve their targets if there is no transparency in attendance, quality and quantity. This brings home the discussion of the true value of exhibiting. By offering a high quality service at a discounted rate, you're inevitably devaluing your product. Eventually the discount rate will become the standard rate at the cost of profi t and long-term continuity of the show. If exhibitors are not prepared to pay the original rate, then you are not providing an acceptable return on investment. If this is the case, you should take a hard look at your event, the market, competition and all other items which your clients take into consideration. The ROI issue on exhibitions has been around for years but the truth is, exhibitions can be evaluated - it's just a case of making them more transparent. Sometimes a discounted solution will be better, but certainly not for all markets. - Robert Johnson is a consultant on exhibition management . Will discounting stands achieve better sales? This is a question that has always been around, even during good times. In the Netherlands, where the Dutch have a reputation for negotiating on everything (some say they even taught the Scots a thing or two), we are undergoing something of a 'polarisation' in the exhibition sector. One the one hand, we have the established organising companies, mostly departments of the major venues, with pricing similar to Germany and 50 per cent of UK prices. On the other hand, we have had a newcomer, slashing space prices by up to 50 per cent while offering full service such as free catering and parking to both exhibitors and visitors. This company, which I won't name, has been hugely successful in the last 10 years and is now probably the largest organiser in the Netherlands, with a 'discounter' offering for most trade events. It also owns venues in Hardenberg (east), Gorinchem (central) and Venray (south). READER 41YOUR SAYThe debate on setting stand pricing, achieving management standards and technology innovation headline this month's letters to the editorDISCOUNTING STAND PRICINGONLINE SAY-SOTwitter postsHmmm, seems like an organiser somewhere has sold my data (I never tick boxes letting them do so) to their exhibitors. Interesting.Matt CoynesGood charity initiative in Uganda from UK events industry Events for Namuwongo. Will we see more like this?Paul WoodwardFinally talking sustainability and not just 'greenwashing'. Glad to see tools being created to help guide us.Traci BrowneRob Wesseling COO of Sovereign General Insurance: Leadership is enabling and empowering human potential.Elizabeth HendersonGood to have a business development team bridging sales and marketing and nurturing 'half-baked' leads.Donna KastnerInnovation is in the eye of the beholder - the best ideas on our periphery can wow audiences in the new contexts we create.Jackie MulliganTony Uphoff is right, events are events. All have virtual components at different times in lifecycle. Let's lose 'virtual'.Phil TierneyKingston Catering has celebrated its decade of visiting Hotelympia with pink champagne! #thisisthelifeKingston CateringCan't wait to see our incredible new version of the Ideal Home of the Future brought to you by Virgin Media. It's going to be spectacular!Ideal Home ShowLinkedIn forums"Pricing policy/strategy is really simple - it's all about value, not cost. If your customers are focused on cost you have a business that will always have a turnover ceiling and will always be a margin business."- IBC director of sales Darren Whitehead on the best way to set stand prices at exhibitions.Technology for technology's sake?Technology is a fact of life in the exhibition world, but the technology is not an end in itself. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of this fact every so often. This industry is in a phase of its evolution where there is a proliferation of technology; there are smartphone apps, lead capture systems, registration systems, QR and barcode readers to name but a few. Each one has its place, but exhibitions are about face-to-face engagement and technology can never replace the intrinsic value of a face-to-face encounter.Technology can, however, enhance and support that engagement and also help to demonstrate and quantify the value of that engagement. In addition, technology can maximise the effective use of time during an exhibition and extend the role of the brand in connecting buyers and sellers throughout the year. Finally, technology can help smooth the process of putting on an event for exhibition organisers, their contractors, exhibitors and visitors.Websites and, increasingly, social media are technology platforms that enable an exhibition brand to build an online community and foster links and connections within that community throughout the exhibition cycle. Websites, smartphone apps and social media tools also enable visitors and exhibitors to identify each other before and during the event and so maximise the usefulness of the event for cementing online connections through face-to-face encounters. Website and smartphone map applications help visitors plan their time effectively. Lead management technology helps exhibitors to capture leads and measure the performance of their live event marketing activity. Electronic fl oorplans, online exhibitor manuals and smartphone-based helpdesk systems that enable exhibitors to lodge service issues with contractors are all examples of more technology platforms that help make the exhibition experience easier. In a sentence: Technology makes exhibitions more effective for exhibitors and organisers alike.We need to understand, embrace and deploy technology rather than feel overwhelmed, threatened or overawed by it. After all, it is really just another tool in the box that delivers effective exhibitions.- Malene Stanley is the head of marketing at Melville GES.