In the first two months of every year, flocks of party buyers and suppliers seek the warmth of the various worldwide exhibitions, in order to discover what is happening within our market.
Not all suppliers exhibit and not all buyers (actually most) don’t buy . They use them as an opportunity to look, talk, network, consider , sometimes decide and occasionally eat and drink .
Having personally exhibited over many years, I am somewhat ‘gob smacked ‘ by how some of the larger exhibition organisers treat their customers ie exhibitors and visitors. The various organisers of the Spring Fair have been extraordinarily arrogant to exhibitors (particularly the small and medium sized) . The Spielwarenmesse (Toy fair) in Nuremberg, comes out not much better. When was the last time you payed to get into your shopping centre ? Well, you will if you go to Nuremberg. A show pass for every day will set you back €49 on the door(it does give you free local public transport for the duration of the exhibition). And if you want to stay in downtown Nuremberg, a 2 star hotel will cost you more than central London. Very pretty town , but does not quite warrant these prices.
Putting that all to one side, as an industry, we have very little influence in that direction, they should provide an invaluable tool to every business involved in the party market , big or small. The NEC, I chock saying this, provides a unique opportunity for those within our industry to spend some time looking outside. Because of the huge variety of product shown, it’s possible to look at other market places, and see if there any similarities, trends, products and ideas that may work or impact in our own industry. In Nuremberg, the opportunities are different. You can see and possibly meet other European and non European buyers and suppliers. There will be products and suppliers, that your competitors won’t know about, but above all it is the only opportunity to take a comprehensive overview of what maybe happening within a broader retail perspective.
Don’t ignore the Halloween and Party show in New Orleans. Oddly the overall size of the show makes it the smallest of the three . However, as a great many of our industry’s influences come from across the pond , it should not be ignored, as an increasing number of Europeans are discovering.
It would be easy to carry on knocking show organisers. Apart from saying that it would be nice if they were to have put something back into the industry outside of showtime. In past years they have earnt a great deal from their customers, though undoubtedly this would be less likely over the last six or seven years. Some support during the good years may have paid off as things got tougher. Yet we are where we are. Our industry is not really big enough to support a party show , particularly in Europe. Even so, I am not so sure that it would be a good thing. I think we benefit from being with others. We are in a rapidly changing market place ( sorry, I say this a lot) and we need to see what is going on around us, as well as what is happening within us.