HEAD-TO-HEADIssue 8 | 2011 www.28exhibition-world.netThis is a very interesting topic as international shows represent a major share of our business. Several large international trade shows such as IBC, PLMA, Hortifair and IS Europe have chosen the RAI venue and the city of Amsterdam as their home base. Half the international events staged in our convention centre are organised by RAI Exhibitions. Moreover, we export a number of our brands into strategic markets around the world. Since we also have a large portfolio of national events, a clear and fair defi nition of national and international is of signifi cant importance.In general the share of foreign exhibitors at an international event is larger than the foreign visitor representation. This in itself makes sense as the time investment for a national visit is less demanding and often more staff of the same company or organisation will use the opportunity to see what's on offer. Our international events in general have a minimum of 40 per cent international visitor attendance and 60 per cent foreign exhibitors, which has become our personal standard. Some of our shows easily surpass these criteria. For example the Intertraffi c Amsterdam scope of international visitors is 64 per cent and of the exhibitors, 83 per cent come from abroad. Our regional spin-offs have a fair share of international exhibitor attendance but are obviously mainly targeting a national visitor audience.Indeed we see shows around the world label themselves international where only a very small percentage of attendance on both exhibitor and visitor level is from abroad. This is confusing and sometimes misleading for potential participants. We would welcome a clear defi nition with slightly more ambitious fi gures to give transparency to the market and boost the image of the sector.I would say an international show is dependent on two factors: The number of international exhibitors and the number of international visitors. I don't believe there is any particular rule to comply with and not really an exact list of boxes to tick to qualify as being an international show. Using the word international in the show title is also subjective and event organisers add it in for varying reasons. In the boat show market, a number of European shows don't tend to use the word international while those located in America, Australia and Asia appear to use it more. Continuing in the same market, organisers with new shows tend to use the word international more often than not. But long-running shows don't need to, nor do shows that already have a strong profi le. Some organisers also tend to use it as a labelling exercise. They think giving your show the tag of international infl ates its status and generates more gravitas but if your show is successful and strong enough, it doesn't need the label. I believe a show's reputation is more impactful than its title; plus you can't make a show feel international if it isn't, as it's not simply about the dressing.This is the rationale we've used with our Tullett Prebon London Boat Show and PSP Southampton Boat Show. Over the years we have used the word international but both are now very established events, in their 58th and 43rd years respectively.Certainly, the organiser's aspirations would have a lot to do with the attainment of such a vision.Personally, I think it would be helpful and useful for certain international standards to be clearly spelt out and embraced by all in the exhibition industry. Such standards would eliminate disputes and misunderstandings between organisers and participants (exhibitors and visitors) and help raise the aspirations of all involved. While organisers and participants have different aspirations and ways of doing things in Asia, Europe and North America, most of us desire participation from all over the world. But while the quantity might be present in many events, the quality might be in question.In Singapore, we generally defi ne an international show as an event that has at least 20 per cent international exhibitors and at least four per cent international visitors. This defi nition may not be universally accepted as different countries and associations have their own benchmarks for calling their exhibitions international.For a show to be called international, I would expect that the number of exhibitors and visitors would truly represent a cross section of countries from Asia, Europe and North America. At the same time, I would also expect the look and feel of the exhibition to be global and functional, exuding a business-like ambience and environment. EDWARD LIUMANAGING DIRECTOR CEMS, SINGAPORETHEO LINGMONTDIRECTOR INTL EXHIBITIONSAMSTERDAM RAI, HOLLANDMURRAY ELLISMANAGING DIRECTORNATIONAL BOAT SHOWS, UK
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