London venues Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) have concluded the first in a series of surveys aimed at facilitating research into the
UK’s £9.3bn exhibition market. Playing host to over 2 million exhibition visitors annually, including those attending prestigious trade events
such as The London Book Fair, PLASA, ATE, 100% Design, Ecobuild, International Jewellery and Top Drawer, EC&O benefits from 120 years of
event heritage and experience.
Specifically undertaken to analyse the contributory factors in successful trade exhibitions, the research draws on visitor feedback reflecting the
experiences of attendees at a variety of trade shows hosted at EC&O Venues and other exhibition facilities. The analysis is set to help
organisers create objectives for trade events, which in turn will help lead to quantifiable results in terms of improved visitor quality, visitor attendance
and propensity to revisit.
EC&O Venues’ research highlights that one of the dominating factors in determining trade show attendance, and the value placed on
attendance by visitors, is the element of ‘newness’. Defined in the survey as all or any of the following: new product, new suppliers, new market
opportunities and/or new business techniques, 85% of respondents focused on ‘newness’ as a fundamental influence on their decision to visit
a trade show.
Newness was also a crucial factor determining propensity to revisit, reflected in a 45% drop-off of visitors who did not feel that a show offered
sufficient new content, features or innovation.
Respondents were asked to comment on overall show content (or ‘editorial’): seminars, masterclasses, networking sessions and other
experiential elements. Only 44% of respondents confirmed that they were fully aware of the show’s ‘feature’ offering prior to their visit. Of
particular note to event organisers is the direct correlation between visitors’ awareness of features, their decision to revisit and their overall
satisfaction rating for the show.
The EC&O survey also identified the importance of attendee pre-planning, with 51% scheduling their visit to ensure maximum interaction and
engagement with exhibitors. The results indicate that, by pre-planning their activities, visitors are able to utilise the show to its full potential,
thereby deriving maximum benefit and value from the experience and increasing levels of satisfaction with the event and intention to revisit.
It is clear that the elements of newness, freshness of editorial content and facilitation of pre-planning are inter-related and fundamental to the
overall visitor experience. A trade show must stay invigorated and relevant to today’s changing market place: with heavily-communicated
newness driving well-marketed ‘feature’ content that, in turn, encourages visitor pre-planning, leading to greater attendee satisfaction and thus
assured longevity of the trade show ‘brand’.
Nigel Nathan, Managing Director, EC&O
said, “The research that we have conducted highlights that trade shows, just like any brand, must
evolve with the constantly changing market conditions and visitor needs. Trade exhibition brand allegiance can only be achieved by
responding to the changes and communicating your response to your audience.”
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