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// Expert - Spherical - - T +44 (0) 131 668 3360capture the attention of the crowd

research exhibition may 2011 21Geoffrey Dixon and the Vivid Interface team are to be congratulated on producing The Facts 2011 about the exhibition industry so quickly and in the face of some confusion and volatility in our market.The main findings are that trade shows exhibited a slight decline in attendance of 1.4 per cent year-on-year and like-for-like (i.e. comparing the same events) between 2009 and 2010, while consumer shows declined 3.6 per cent. It is consumer shows which are bearing the brunt of falling attendances - if we look simply at the median (i.e. the 'typical') public events over the five-year period from 2006 to 2010, then it has lost 22 per cent of its attendance in that time.Weighing up the numbersThere is no disguising the difficulty of analysing the information we have available. We recognise some 800 credible exhibitions in the UK but the number that report audited attendance figures has declined in recent years to less than 500 annually. This means we are rarely comparing the same number sets. This incoherence is best illustrated in TABLE A. This is a very raw analysis - it simply takes all the shows that reported in each year and works out the average attendance across all events. As can be seen, the crude, highly non-statistically valid result is that average attendances at UK exhibitions appear to have fallen by half over a six-year period.If we take the median attendance each year and compare it with the previous year, then we have TABLE B. The median is the mid-point (i.e. the 50th largest attendance in a set of 100) and this is usually a more reliable guide as it excludes real outliers, such as The British International Motor Show, which have the effect of distorting the numbers. On this basis, the "typical" trade show has lost 8 per cent of its attendance in the past five years, while the "typical" consumer show has lost 22 per cent. But even these figures are unsatisfactory as they exclude shows that have disappeared. Industry veteran Phil Soar analyses The Facts 2011 research from Vivid Interface to judge the exhibition community's health and volatility.stable attendance in volatile times