Western Cape Business News

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MARKETING: The Show Must Go On


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE Cape Town International Convention Centre, where most local trade and consumer shows are held, has not been impacted much by the local and global economic slowdown yet, MD Dirk Elzinga says.

“While it is possible that continued long-term economic pressure may have an effect on the business of the CTICC, it is also possible that the need by organisations for more cost-effective methods of face-to-face marketing may well have a positive impact on the centre,” according to Elzinga.

During the past years the venue has been experiencing a healthy increase in the number of trade fairs hosted and he believes that this sector still represents an under-developed marketing instrument with good long term possibilities.

However, the next year or two may prove to be a bumpy ride for the show business industry, CBN learns.

For one, a number of organisers of both trade and consumer shows are uneasy about the effects that the 2010 world cup could have on the hospitality industry, an essential support service. Some have already brought forward events that will be staged this year, while others are considering re-scheduling their shows until after 2010, CBN learns.

Then there is the economy, which this year will be much tougher. Says Johnny Malherbe of Impact Exhibitions: “It will be foolish to think that the exhibition industry will escape the economic downturn.” His company organises four local exhibitions, the successful Cape Town International Boat Show being the best known of them.

“Nearly all the organisers I’ve spoken to and by just visiting the various shows, the feedback is that whilst visitor and exhibitor numbers are down, the market still remains positive. Stats are showing that, although the door count is down, sales are still being done by a more discerning visitor which seems to indicate those attending exhibitions are serious buyers.

Like all industries there will be casualties, which is never a good thing, but Malherbe still seems to feel that these economic downturns have a positive side to them, in that people are selecting more carefully what shows they will exhibit at and make informed decisions.

Likewise, visitors are also making a call on what shows to visit. This means that the organisers themselves will have to sharpen up by matching exhibitors and visitors more carefully (allowing only exhibitors that fit the show profile).

“It was too easy to just sell space to ‘anyone’ but the knock-on effect is that visitors get shortchanged because they are expecting to see a certain kind of exhibitor at a particular show and when the fit is bad, they stop attending shows.”

“Everyone loses, the visitor, the organiser and of course the exhibitor, who then stops exhibiting,” he says.

Graham Jeffery, COO of Oasys Innovations, suppliers to the exhibition and events industry, says he expects that exhibitor numbers will be maintained, but that they may scale down on the ‘bells and whistles’ that make up stands and perhaps even have slightly smaller stands. But exhibitors will still aim to retain their presence, he expects.

The general feeling in the industry though is that few new shows will be launched and that existing shows will need to adapt new ways to attract visitors and enhance visitor value.


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