It’s not ‘new’ news that there are two meetings industry trade shows taking place in London next year. Confex returns to its new home of ExCeL next March, while new-kid-on-the-block The Meetings Show UK will hit Olympia for the first time in July 2013.
It was said to be a ‘poor show’ when Centaur Exhibitions launched its new venture during this year’s Confex. Since then, there has been much chatter among the industry - does the UK need a new meetings show to shake things up? Or is it a case of overcrowding?
Now, it seems, the two shows are showing their best cards. Yesterday The Meetings Show UK put out a release saying that due to ‘significant interest’ in the show it has employed new hosted buyer manager, along with another sales manager – and the show is now expecting to deliver 1,500 buyers from the UK and Europe.
Merely a few hours later Confex bosses unveiled a week-long programme of events entitled ‘Confex Week’ to run alongside its 2013 show. Ideas to entice visitors include a Destination Village showcasing destination management companies (DMCs); a Hotel Lobby focusing on hotel brands; and an Experiential Hub – fresh ideas for a show which is celebrating its 30th anniversary next year.
Confex organisers were, however, quick to stress that these new initiatives had nothing to do with competition from The Meetings Show UK. True, they had promised new features once the show was taken to ExCeL and given room to grow. But, regardless of intentions or tactics or brand differentiation, the reality is both shows will compete: If you are going to attend just one UK show, which will you choose? Which suppliers will have the budget to exhibit at both?
Trade shows, in essence, work on a fairly simple premise. Suppliers want to get good solid business from quality buyers, and buyers want a one-stop-shop to meet relevant suppliers and to get the latest information to help them best serve their clients. Easy, right? Yet hitting the right mix of appointments, education and time out of the office is a tricky thing.
It’s pleasing to see the shows evolving and improving. From the point of view of the attendee, a bit of healthy competition appears to be a good thing. For the organisers, however, will the phrase ‘a little competition never hurt anyone’ ring as true in 2013? Let the battle commence.