April 28, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

Reed Gift Fairs usually kicks off the annual exhibition season in Sydney in February, but this year, show organiser Reed Exhibitions Australia pushed the event to April following the Northern Beaches COVID outbreak in December.

When the deferred event ran at ICC Sydney last week, it was another significant breakthrough for getting events going again and bringing some confidence back to the market.

According to Cory McCarrick, Event Director for Reed Gift Fairs, it had been 415 days since the Reed Gift Fairs team had been on-site and it was a thrill to be back.

“Putting on the high-vis vests was a buzz, everyone had a real spring in their steps.

“Seeing friends, colleagues and the suppliers who work with us on the shows was brilliant.”

Reed Gift Fairs Sydney was held between 17 – 21 April and was co-located with the more boutique, Life In-Style. This was the first event of the year in the Reed Exhibitions Australia portfolio.

The next gift fair is scheduled for the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 31 July to 4 August.

Although the show was smaller, McCarrick says the buyers were of a high quality and “there to spend”.

There were 280 exhibitors across the two shows and 17 percent were from interstate. The shows ran across three halls at ICC Sydney with the conference set up in the middle of the exhibition floor.

Although the official audited attendance figures are not yet available, just under 10,000 people attended the events over four days. In 2020, 14,000 attended the show.

Reed Gift Fairs had 150 exhibitors in 2021, compared to 450 in 2020, when the show last ran just ahead of the shutdown of the industry.

For Life In-Style, the numbers held more strongly with 130 in 2021 compared with 250 last year.

Despite the lower numbers and a smaller show, McCarrick says the key metric of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) was higher as were overall satisfaction levels.

McCarrick says many high-volume buyers were at the show including Temple&Webster, The Iconic, Qantas Frequent Flyer, David Jones and Harvey Norman. For exhibitors, it was an important opportunity to get new product into the market and in front of qualified buyers at two major national events.

On the show floor at Reed Gift Fair in Sydney last week

His message to the industry is that there is huge pent-up demand for face-to-face business interaction, checking out new product and networking.

He says he is hoping that Reed Gifts Fairs would be back to normal by August, especially with more people vaccinated and willing to travel.

The next shows coming up for the international organiser include the General Practitioner Conference and Expo in several states starting with Sydney in May, OnLine Retailer in July and the Parenting Expo in August.

ICC Sydney said it was pleased to welcome back Reed Gift Fairs Sydney and Life In-Style.

“With health and safety top of mind here at ICC Sydney, trade events are back and we couldn’t be more excited.”

As each event opens, around the country it pushes the business and consumer confidence index up a little more and restores the appetite for holding in-person events.