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VENUE WATCH34 business to supplement the Showground's weekend leisure events. "Like all charities, there's a need for commercial income to support the charitable objectives," he told EN. "We need to be proactive and seek out opportunities. We must also make sure that we deliver both our charitable and commercial objectives with equal attention to professionalism and customer service."The commercial function is there to support the Society's ability to deliver its charitable objectives, so it's vital resources are put into both activities, Vincent said. "It is essential to grow the commercial function, as we hope to do with the building of the new Three Counties Centre," he continued."Given its history, the current business is largely domestic weekend business, much of which uses the whole Showground. Moving forward, we would like to develop the commercial weekday market and put facilities in place to support that initiative. The commercial arm of the business currently generates £1m, and we would like to see that grow to £1.5m."Advantages include ethics, integrity and no large profits for shareholders. It's also about longevity - we have been operating for a long time and will be around for a long time to come."Vincent admitted the market is increasingly competitive and customers are demanding and expecting improved facilities and services. "Once the expanded Three Counties Centre is up and running in Malvern, we will be investing a further quarter of a million in upgrading our existing exhibition space."challenging market conditionsAlthough being tied to an agricultural charity has its advantages, it is not without its challenges. These can stem from the decision-making process of the charity, the size of the organisation or the specificity of its niche."The challenges of being a social enterprise are those of any commercial business: We are competing in a very competitive marketplace where customers are searching for value for money and professional service," said Bond. "We have to deliver this at the most competitive rate possible. As a standalone venue we do not benefit from the economies of mass marketing that some other venues and hotel groups enjoy."The increasingly competitive UK events venue market itself is not especially welcoming to newcomers, and agricultural venues are leaning on their strengths to promote themselves and draw business."The UK events industry is retrenching following years of significant growth. Clearly within this context only the very best venues committed to delivering great customer service will benefit most," said Glendinning."Being linked to the charity helps us to promote the events that are about agriculture but not so much the normal run-of-the-mill types," said Jane Guise, MD of the Bath and West Showground. "I'm not sure many people are connected to agriculture as a charity. There is not a great deal of public sympathy. It's not a heart-strings kind of charity."Bath and West made the headlines earlier this year when it announced plans to double its exhibition space from 10,000 to 20,000sqm."The main challenge is that charities are by their very nature risk-averse. You have to be careful not to rock the boat by doing anything that would be seen as avoidable risk," Guise said.a viable alternativeDespite this, agricultural associations, their venues and event subsidiaries are increasing their offering to organisers. By bringing in more business, they hope to fill empty weekday slots and channel more revenue to the charity.Although the indoor exhibition spaces of most of these venues is small by international industry standards, the venues could work well for small-catchment, low-margin shows that stand on their It's about longevity: We have been operating for a long time and will be around for a long time to comeBath and West ShowgroundLocation: Shepton Mallet, SomersetSize: 9, 287sqm total indoors; 240 acresRoyal Highland CentreLocation: Ingliston, ScotlandSize: 18,000sqm indoors; 110 acresStoneleigh ParkLocation: WarwickshireSize: 21,000sqm indoors; 250 acresThree Counties ShowgroundLocation: Malvern, WorcestershireSize: 11,005sqm total indoors; 300 acresTrinity ParkLocation: Ipswich, SuffolkSize: 1,000sqm indoors, 300 acres 5 regIonal venuesRight: Gardening Scotland at the Royal Highland CentreFar right top: Representation of the new Three Counties CentreFar right bottom: Trinity Park showgrounds as seen from the airown, complement a larger national-level event or act to spread a brand as a UK geoclone. If done correctly, the organiser could take advantage of the fact that revenues generated would go to a charity to help improve an event's image as socially-responsible. If nothing else, exhibitors and visitors may be tempted by the rural setting and the feel of a day or two in the country. No buses or traffic to negotiate, just open space, the smell of wet grass and an atmosphere that lets you clear your head and get down to business.

COMING SOONTHE COMPLETE DIRECTORY FOR EXHIBITION ORGANISERSEXHIBITION Handbook 2012NEWS2012EXHIBITIONVenues, suppliers and contractors, make sure your organisation is listed in the Exhibition News Handbook 2012 contact the Exhibition News team on 020 8971 8282.THE INDISPENSABLE GUIDE FOR EXHIBITION ORGANISERSEveryone registered to receive Exhibition News will be sent a handbookRegister online at GUIDES FROM THE INDUSTRY'S BESTADVICE FROM ASSOCIATIONSA COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF UK EXHIBITION VENUES AN EXTENSIVE LIST OF CONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS CATEGORISED BY THE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES THEY OFFERINSIDEbigger+betterThe UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC) Your own versatile and dynamic 4000 sq metre space...from large exhibitions, training programmes and wedding celebrations, the ECC is big enough to cater for your needs.We're ideally situated with excellent transport links for mainline train stations and the M4/ M5 motorways, we're fast becoming the ideal Exhibition and Conference Centre in the South West. To book or find out more visit