The 2012 Australian Business Events Expo and Sydney’s Event Showcase produced a mixed bag of feedback from exhibitors while others were more than happy with their participation.

BY BRAD FOSTER

A funny thing happened recently. A few weeks after the 2012 Australian Business Events Expo (ABEE) and Sydney’s Event Showcase closed I was in a PCO’s office in Sydney where I was shown a computer-generated image of part of a conference the company was working on. The PCO excitedly told me that because this was an environmentally sensitive conference they were using recyclable displays.
The exciting thing was that they only discovered the recyclable products at this year’s ABEE when they came across the company Exhibiting Green (www.exhibitinggreen.com.au).
That’s the kind of story that as an exhibition organiser you want to hear about. And it should be the kind of thing that as a buyer you want to know.
New ABEE and Sydney’s Event Showcase show director, Karen Krieger, was overly happy with the performance of this year’s co-located shows. She reports that ABEE had 2998 visitors and Sydney’s Event Showcase has around 5000. While slightly down on 2011 figures she believes the quality was there.
“The feedback we are getting was that the visitors were quality rather than quantity,” she said.
In terms of exhibitors, ABEE had 150 and Sydney’s Event Showcase had 230. And the good news for Ms Krieger and the organising company ETF is that more than 50 per cent of exhibitors have already rebooked for 2013.
The two shows spanned three halls at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. In the ABEE section was a cooking demonstration area which proved popular with visitors while at the end of the Sydney’s Event Showcase hall was the entertainment stage and access to the seminar program.
There was some concern that the entertainment stage was too far away from the rest of the action, however, Ms Krieger said ETF was conscious of too much noise.
“It’s important to get the balance right between entertaining and allowing exhibitors the opportunity to have that business platform where they can conduct business.
“Like every facet of the exhibition we will be reviewing what we did and looking at improving on that for next year.”
Melbourne Showgrounds business relationship and development manager, Geordie Thoms, was a big fan of ABEE where the company exhibited.
“The 2012 ABEE was a very professionally run event with a significant amount of foot traffic through the doors over two days,” she said.
“More importantly the event generated good sales leads and is a useful sales tool for entering the Sydney market.”
Medina Designs’ Ricki Moritz was another fan, this time of Sydney’s Event Showcase where the company exhibited.
The company exhibited at RSVP (now Sydney’s Event Showcase) from 2007, took a break in 2011, and returned this year.
“The 2012 show exceeded our expectations, coming away with lots of quality leads and new contacts,” Ricki said.
“We successfully launched our “new” logo lamps and have had bookings for the lamp’s already. RSVP once again gave us the opportunity to showcase our decorating ability to the industry!
“We also networked with new exhibitors such as Briana Bluebell Burlesque (opposite us at the show), and have already included her in a couple of proposals for events. All in all it was a fantastic show!”
But not all exhibitors were happy with the exhibition.
Director of Pinnacle Team Events, Will Mason, said the exhibition saw “a disappointing turnout with more tyre kickers and students than PAs, EAs and event organisers”.
“It is a great networking opportunity as all the industry heavyweights are on board – however, not many leads convert to actual business,” he said.
“Will we be back? We will decide after assessing the conversion of the leads generated.”
One exhibitor participating in the ABEE section of the event, and who did not want to be named, said they were “really p*ssed off” that there were exhibitors there who had originally said they would not exhibit but two weeks out from the expo were offered really cheap deals to exhibit.
The exhibitor said it had left a very sour taste in their mouth, particularly as they had booked much earlier and paid the full rate.
“In terms of buyers attending – Wednesday wasn’t too bad – probably better than the previous year, but Thursday was a complete waste of time. Maybe the show should be reduced to one day,” the exhibitor said.
“Once again [I] was annoyed by the number of people coming around soliciting at our stand – I don’t like to be rude to people, but the annoyance levels got so high that I probably was quite rude to [a] few people and some of them were people who had stands but obviously weren’t getting the visitation so went around annoying other exhibitors!
“The perennial problem of students – this time they seem to come through on the morning of the first day and removed a lot of our material which left us short. Wouldn’t mind at all if it was the afternoon of the second day when you want to get rid of what is left!
“[I am] really not sure about next year… I am lukewarm about it, I must admit.”
In response to the comment of an exhibitor booking late and receiving a discount Ms Krieger confirmed that this was the case “as directed by team members who are no longer with the business”.
“While this can be a strategy for shows who look to fill last minute space it’s something that I absolutely do not support across any of the shows in the portfolio,” she said.
“This year I have purposely put in place rates to reward those that commit early hence such a rigorous rebook plan. As a result we had approximately 50 per cent of clients rebook in both ABEE and SES and they had the benefit of an enhanced package. We have a rebook rate (being the cheapest) then early bird, then standard. So everyone will pay the same depending on the time in which they book.
“Aside from a cheaper rate, booking early means that we know who we’re working with. It also gives us the chance to plan and shape the event in line with this. Exhibitors on board early are also more likely to have full benefit of marketing leading up to the show. I guess it’s like everything, if you plan properly, you’re likely to get a better result.”

Byron