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HEAD TO HEADBright or cloudy skies?EN asks an exhibition venue, contractor and organiser: Are the bad times over? Why or why not?AlAn SheridAn Managing director, rtd SySteMS (octanorM)It would be fantastic to say the UK exhibition industry was firing on all cylinders. Undoubtedly, there has been a gradual improvement with 2010 slightly better than 2009. 2011 is ahead of 2010, but the autumn will expose the extent of any true growth. The sad truth is the "feel good" factor is missing at the moment. Everyone works month-to-month not year-to-year; trends are hard to spot and exploit. Certain sectors remain strong despite the recession: Oil, gas, pharmaceutical and defence. Big budgets equal big venues. In the real world, exhibitors are looking for real value, which in turn limits creativity. If a show is booked it tends to use the previous year's stand or occupy a smaller space. There seems to be little appetite to speculate to accumulate. Growth areas include events mixing experience with social media - if you attend a show you want to come away impressed and tell your friends. Some events are already catering for this demand with links to visitor smartphones. The better the memory, the greater the chance of returning next year. This is difficult when budgets are limited. Consumer confidence has also been knocked. If you spend, you spend wisely for future benefit. This makes shows like Grand Designs as successful as ever, a great day out and an experience. In addition, many traditional exhibition sectors are struggling because of technology. Decision makers cannot afford to spend time out of the office so they surf the net for information, or worse still they send more junior staff members to shows who report back their understanding of the exhibitor's offering, reducing the benefit for everyone. The exhibitor wants to meet decision makers not messengers. I see 2012 as a bright light on the horizon. The Olympics will benefit larger contractors while the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will make the UK proud. There are better times ahead but only for progressive shows. doug emSlieManaging director, tarSuSThe answer to this question is a bit like reading a legal letter: On one hand yes and on the other hand no. It depends on what sectors and geographies you are exposed to and the maturity of the show. Our US business has seen a strong recovery. Both our medical events and our clothing shows have performed extremely well. Doctors have been aggressively investing in education and looking for new areas to expand their practices. We now have 23 education programmes in America and are looking at more. Last year revenues grew 16 per cent and in the first half of 2011 revenues are up a further 10 per cent. The discount clothing sector has proven to have elements of counter-cyclicality - people still need clothes but they want to buy them at cheaper price points. Overall revenues over the past 18 months have grown at an average of 10 per cent per show. In the emerging markets, especially the Middle and Far East, the markets never went into recession; they slowed, but quickly returned to healthy growth rates. Our biggest show, the Dubai Airshow, continues to grow well as airlines like Emirates expand. Dubai airport is now the third largest in the world (by passenger traffic) and with Emirates completing its existing order book, it will be the largest airport in the world in the next three years. Our Chinese business has accelerated in the past six months by growing up from six per cent last year to over 20 per cent this year. In contrast, Europe was later into the recession and will be the last out. We saw our sales in France begin to decline in April 2009 and we are currently seeing them stabilising. Revenues in 2010 declined 12 per cent and in the first half of 2011 revenues were down five per cent. The French economy is just returning to growth now and exhibitions tend to lag nine months behind GDP, so we should see a return to growth for our events portfolio in France next year.John ShArkeychief executive, ScottiSh exhibition and conference centreThey are definitely not over and, in my opinion, there will never be a full traditional recovery as we know it for a long, long time - if ever. There are however, outstanding opportunities created by these times and there are business models, shows and companies doing really well.The common trait is that all are highly relevant to their audiences. These events answer in simple and clear terms the question: "Why should I be there and what value do I get that makes me want to choose to be there?" When also mixed with nostalgia or strong media exposure, this provides further routes to success.I don't believe anything is ever really new - it just comes in and out of fashion, maybe with a new format or relevance to a current generation. Should we be surprised? Not when you see film producers doing re-makes of old classics such as Arthur, Footloose and True Grit because they know they will get a new and returning audience.Equally, shows spun from television platforms that provide an immediate and directly reachable audience base have worked well. However, their longer-term longevity may be brought into question.Other events are extremely good at exploiting commercial opportunity and sponsor involvement. What they have done is get as good as other market sectors which have been doing this well for some time. They can demonstrate execution and activation value but they also encourage creativity through their commercial partner networks on a win/win basis - all of this with the aim of building sustainable and growing income lines rather than getting a cheque and sending over an audience figure.There are still storms ahead on the horizon of our fragile economy. Tax rises also have their effect on hip pockets. Nevertheless, I still believe being relevant and valuable will overcome these challenges and allow the events market to survive and indeed thrive in the longer term. 21FOOD FOR THOUGHT

SHOW CASE22 onthe British international Motor Show may have gone, but a host of localised and regional events are out to prove you can run a successful car exhibition if your message is right. Nadia Cameron reports Fextremely high costs associated with a venue of such scale and huge resources from manufacturers and exhibitors to support the show," Brooke said. "The major factor which has helped lots of other motor-based events is that they have all been designed in a different way, where costs are much lower and the focus is localised. Therefore, the people you need to attract don't have to be national or international. It also means your marketing is more targeted and at a local level."For us, the strategy is driven by identifying demand for the event in a particular area, then making sure when things are being put together, they're done on a sensible cost basis so exhibitors don't have to carry unnecessarily high costs."Brooke also cited a change in its exhibitor base. As manufacturers reined in marketing costs as a result of the downturn, motor dealers increasingly sought opportunities to put their wares in front of potential buyers. "Dealers are now the ones driving the cogs of industry," Brooke continued. "They are the salesmen and have seen an opportunity through shows to generate new leads and business." Having said that, Brooke pointed out manufacturers were still exhibiting but finding different opportunities to tap into other dedicated motoring audiences, such as that apparent at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.ollowing a tough year financially and postponement of its 2010 London show, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) cancelled the British International Motor Show outright. Despite attracting 472,000 visitors to its last edition at Excel London, SMMT blamed the recession, as well as decline in manufacturer support, for its demise.Yet as one show goes, another invariably steps into its place. Over the past year, we've seen the launch of the Windsor-based British Motor Festival, expansion of the Canary Wharf-based Motorexpo locally and internationally, the ongoing success of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and news of the first environmentally focused car event, EcoVelocity this September. So why are these events able to continue where the flagship international event has failed?Cost CoNsideratioNsAccording to MD of the recently launched British Motor Festival, James Brooke, one of the major downfalls of the British International Motor Show was the hefty cost of staging it. In addition, the reason other UK motor shows such as the Windsor event or the Motorexpo in Canary Wharf are successful is due to localised and regional focus and manageable scale, he claimed."To make the international show work, there were KeepiNg it iNteraCtiveSpokesperson for the Goodwood Festival of Speed Gary Axon said it introduced the successful Moving Motor Show component to its event last year as a way of providing manufacturers with regulated exhibition space to preview products. The preview showcase runs alongside five new and classic car displays, sports arena and interactive shows. "There have been static car shows for a hundred years and they've not really changed,"Axon claimed. "Our events are bringing cars to life in every sense and from an emotional standpoint - hearing them run, accelerate and trialling the products stirs the emotions."Getting close and experiencing products in an atmospheric outdoor setting is also a key pillar behind the new EcoVelocity at Battersea Park in September. The show is put together by Metro newspaper and former British International Motor Show directors Rob Mackenzie and Giles Brown, under their new joint venture International Green Motoring Events business. The trend towards more environmentally sustainable transport methods has paved the way for a new motor event, which now has the backing of the Mayor of London and Transport for London.