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Exhibitions - the future?

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Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 830
Location: Accrington, Lancashire

PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:25 pm    Post subject: Exhibitions - the future? Reply with quote

This might be a controversal subject, especially as when comments about exhibtions have been so positive.
Over the past year I have noticed something not quite right at many exhibitions. Having been involved in running them in the past, having exhibited layouts at some, having traded at some and visited a few, I think I have seen them from all angles, and I always talk to people at exhibitions so have piicked up some of what I will say from them.
I know quite a few people up here, and will ask how things are going, and most say OK, but could be better. I notice there are a lot of similar , what some refer to as box shifters at exhibitions.Nothing wro in that, but I have also found people are not buying as much.
Reasons are many. The internet has meant many shop online, including myself, and this has been party responsible for loss of shops in our towns. This should mean exhibitions would do well for traders, but I have got the feeling that is not the case.
When you talk to those running exhibitions, many say they are happy, but I wonder for how long. Traditionally traders are the cash cow for exhibitions, but if they are not getting the business then why should they continue.
I was coming into this from a slightly different angle as my 3D printing is online so I wanted to get the message out to real people. Over past year I have not attracted the busines I was hoping for which is why I am looking at other ideas.
I have heard a couple of other comments, one being that people can see what is at an exhibition before they decide to go, and some seem to only want to see layouts once, a bit like train spotting, so if there is nothing new or of interest they don't attend.
Another is that there are now too many big commercial shows which take away the magic from visiting small local shows. I am not sure how much this is the case, but it might be a factor.
What I do think is that maybe, we need to look at how we run our exhibtions. They are still far better organised than most other craft/hobby shows, but I think they might need to change.
Promoting exhibitions is now even more important. It needs something special, something different, and that is not just the exhibitors but also the trade side. I often will choose to visit an exhibition to see a particular trader or non exhibitor, especially if it one who has travelled far.
Now location is important. There are plenty,many publicly funded but still looking at model railwaysas a way of making money. This is OK for properly run conference venues, which have all the facilities a public exhibition requires, but for me the big down ide id lack of WIFI. These venues, some built in 21st century do not meet the requirements of the 21st century.
I might sound a bit negative and I am not getting at the smaller exhibitions, often run on a shoestring, and making use of small community centres. They are actually putting something back into those communities, even though they might not realise that, and most don't look for grants to help that, which are far more common for far kess used activities funded that way.
Finally, again a money issue, exhibitions have been seen as money making ventures for clubs, and given some of what I have said this is one thing that needs to change. It is far more important to promote our hobby to make it grow that to help a few in the hobby, and see even more comments about average age of those in the hobby going up.
Again onmoney, I rember reading that some people(possibly clubs) had started building layoutfor exhibition, with the main aim to make money for those groups. I am not sure if this continued, but I was not keen, and view expenses as a a way to compensate for cost of taking a layout to an exhibition, and associated costs. These costs do not include the building of those layouts. It miht have only been a story, but it sounded pretty true at the time, and hopefully anyone trying it would have been turned away.
Overall, I think we have all got to work together, and all parties need to cooperate. It is all too easy to think that because we all do talk to each other online then that is enough. On that note, I have also noticed a big drop in the number of peole taking part online in forums like this. That worries me, as where is the next step.Maybe it is back to reality, with people talking face to face.
Simon Dawson
Will try anything once, looking for the ultimate easy to set up portable exhibition layout, preferably French narrow gauge and with lots going on, not necessary on the rails.

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