Last week I attended the Meetings Show at Olympia, London (8th – 10th July 2014). Here is my review of the exhibition, which I was attending for the first time.
I spent Wednesday and Thursday at the show, days 2 and 3. Many of the exhibitors I spoke to commented how much busier the show was this year and they seemed pleased with the amount of interest and leads received. The Meetings Show has witnessed a 27% increase in visitor numbers since the first year of the show to 3,154 unique visitors (4,626 meetings industry professionals including exhibitors).*
Day 2 of the show had a great buzz about it however the last day was definitely much quieter and a few of the exhibitors seemed a bit jaded by the Thursday (due to evening hospitality excesses and networking perhaps?!). Nevertheless I was surprised to see some stands un-staffed for some or all of the final day. I will never understand how organisations can outlay a considerable amount of their marketing budget to exhibit and then not embrace the opportunity fully! Alas rant over, this will be a topic for a future blog post.
I was one of 721 (or 731 according to some reports) hosted buyers at the show. I only requested one nights accommodation due to other commitments up North, and I was allocated a room at the Hilton Kensington which was conveniently located for Olympia.
The Meetings Show exhibition was 20% bigger than in 2013 with 450 exhibitors. There were 10k pre-scheduled appointments at the show. As a hosted buyer you must attend a minimum of 8 appointments per day at the exhibition (only fair in return for the organisers kind hospitality!). I had chosen my appointments carefully and it was great to stay up to date with some innovations in the events industry as well as meeting with a couple of venues we are using/considering using for events in 2015.
Overall it was a busy show for me as just before the trip we had two events confirmed with very specific requirements in terms of the venues so I visited as many stands as possible that fit the criteria for these events around my pre-scheduled appointments. This was a very productive method, backed up with enquiries and research already made from the office. I spoke to a few new possibilities and have already received some proposals post show for our clients consideration.
I finally got to meet Irina from The MICE Blog during the show after connecting via Twitter. We had so much to discuss though I feel that we only just scratched the surface!
As I touched on in an earlier blog post previewing the Meetings Show I was looking forward to attending some education sessions at the exhibition. Some of the sessions I signed up for actually turned out to be round table discussions and not seminars, however some interesting conversations and sharing came about (even when it was just myself and the facilitator – which happened on 2 occasions)! I will however share more about the learning and thoughts from the Education Programme in a future post.
It was also a pleasure to meet with Paul Cook from Planet Planit to discuss a forthcoming hybrid event we are working on and to put the events industry to rights!
Many of the stands, particularly in the International Zone, seemed to be a smaller version of their stands seen at EIBTM, Barcelona. This removed some of the wow factor for me second time around although it is always fascinating to see stands that inject some of their personality and values so well into their bespoke exhibition stands. It was great to have destinations from over 50 countries across 6 continents, venues, hotels and key providers of meetings products and services represented at this UK exhibition.
Our favourite stand was the Visit Brighton exhibition stand pictured left and below, complete with its own pick and mix sweet shop. For me the stand was eye-catching and inviting with plenty of space to talk to visitors and showcasing the city’s unique brand and individuality. I didn’t make it to Confex this year so this was the first time I had seen the stand. Look more closely at the ingredients below….
Overall I found The Meetings Show 2014 really worthwhile. My visit flew by with a great mix of business and pleasure and I will look forward to the show growing even further for 2015. Hopefully I will be able to visit between 7th – 9th July 2015.
Did you attend or exhibit at the Meetings Show Exhibition 2014? Did you find the show enjoyable and worthwhile? I would love to read your comments below.
* early unaudited data released by organisers