Exhibitions Useful or Outdated ?

expoSo its 2015 and it’s an ITMA year, the textile marketplace is gearing up to meet in Milan in November for the 4 yearly get together. ITMA is always seen as the premier textile machinery showcase, so successful that it generated a partner show in Asia. As well as the two ITMAs, which if you do both you must be in a constant state of planning, there is also a plethora of smaller regional shows that are competing for your attention and your money.

I have long believed that if you did all the relevant shows you would spend your entire working life at exhibitions. It seems obvious that the people who arrange and stage exhibitions think they are relevant and they are obviously profitable, but as an exhibitor or attendee how useful are they ?

As an exhibitor the cost to attend is huge, with floor space, stand design, shipment of equipment, temporary import charges, expenses for your personnel to be there, time out of the office etc.

The visitors also has costs, passes, travel, accommodation etc. So everyone is investing in exhibitions to make them the best they can be. The complaints I most frequently hear from exhibitors is that visitor numbers maybe high but the quality is low and the complaint from visitors is that there is nothing new. In terms of the complaint from exhibitors, I do not believe that many decision makers attend shows anymore, it is also fair to say that the days when the giant textile groups, sent large specialist teams to view their particular sector are gone .

Organisations are cutting back on their travel costs and moving to virtual meetings the idea of sending someone from Asia or the USA to Europe for 10 days is difficult to justify financially, so idea of sending a team of 20 or 50 as was the case in the past is definitely off the table.

With Shows happening almost monthly and exhibitors having to come up with something innovative for the major shows it is no surprise that there is a complaint that there is “nothing new” It is just not possible to move the industry that quickly. In the case of dyeing machines the major innovation in the last 20 years has been waterless dyeing units and this technology is still not established and widely used so whats next ?

It seems from people that I speak to that, there is an unhappiness with exhibitions, overpriced under visited and showing old technology or designs, can best sum up the comments.

If this is the case why do we still attend them ? Is it to get out of the office ? Is it for fear of missing that one big order or brand new piece of technology. No one orders at exhibitions anymore, any machines sold have usually being concluded long before the show started and the photo oportunity that takes place on day one of the show is usually just a vanity exercise for all concerned. If someone does want to finalise at the exhibition then it is usually at such a ridiculous discount, that in many cases it would be better to take the machine or fabrics home and leave them in the corner gathering dust.

I think the industry, with the exception of the exhibition organisers, is disillusioned with the exhibition process and suffers the costs because they feel they have to.

Surely it is time for someone to look at the whole process in the modern world we can communicate quickly and efficiently anywhere in minutes and wandering around an exhibition site seems a very outdated and inefficient process.

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2 comments

  1. Ian – I agree! Far East exhibitions still have a buzz about them but even there questions are being raised. Is it a bit like the gold rush, when the people who made the most money sold shovels (that may not actually be true but makes a point!) – with exhibitions the winners are the the organisers. Did companies really send 20-50 staff for 10 days? No doubt they did but it seems as unreal as a world where we watched 3 channel TV only at certain times of day and with no internet … There were moves for virtual exhibitions some time ago – online at any time but they lost the connection of people entirely and I assume they were not successful as all gone?

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    • The rumours at ITMA in Birmingham 2003, and ITMA Paris 1999 was that companies such as Milliken sent teams over the 10 days each team around 9 people and there were specific areas spinning, weaving, dyeing etc, So there is a good change that they would be a huge number of staff there some for the duration of the show. Some of the Far East shows seem to have become a haven for counterfeit goods and dodgy dealings. I remember the Virtual Expos, I wonder if the powers that be killed them due to potential loss of revenue.

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