Exhibiting interest

The Sydney Morning Herald published an article on April 13 titled, ‘Trade show exhibitors want refund’. Some exhibitors were apparently furious, demanding refunds and threatening legal action over what they described as a flop.

About 50 exhibitors marched to the event organisers’ office after the first day, threatening a mass walk out. Foot traffic was poor, promotion of the event was lacking, there was no internet access, no music, no food, and no beverages. Harvey Stockbridge, MD of Australian Exhibitions and Conferences, reportedly told exhibitors there would be no talk of compensation until they fulfilled the legal obligation of their contract – to remain on site. Despite this, some exhibitors left.

In August last year I wrote in this column: “When did you last visit a retail conference, exhibition, or trade fair and come away feeling that it had really been worthwhile?

I suspect that the answer from most people will be never”. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a positive response from a company that organises retail exhibitions inviting me to sit on their advisory board (which never materialised).

To their credit they accepted some of the constructive criticism and have a good line up of speakers. Their key note speaker is a major draw card and they did extremely well to secure this person.

We live in the most exciting era in retail history with new developments taking place almost daily. Exhibition organisers need to be selective.

Very selective who they invite to speak. Rather a few good ones than a drove of mediocre speakers. And Harvey Stockbridge needs to look carefully at whether Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia will take place next year and if so, how he intends to attract exhibitors.

Note: Impact Retailing is not seeking speaking engagements at this time.

* Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing www.impactretailing.com.au and can be contacted at stuart@impactretailing.com.au or 0414 631 702.

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