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Smaller venues support growth of UK Exhibitions

CEME Meeting Room

As we experience the very evident increase in activity within the conference market, I ponder what is happening with exhibitions and trade shows.  We know that the exhibition industry has real value for venues in the UK, with over 1600 events taking place each year, but are we about to see a return to the 2005 high?

I suspect not yet, but can small venues play a part in the recovery?

The recession has had a dramatic effect on the industry with the amount of space sold in 2010 reduced by 50% from its peak in 2005.  And of course this occurred just after the increase in capacity with the birth of Excel and the expansion of NEC.  The market is currently over serviced with large venues and any downsize in longstanding events can move to one of the many medium size venues in our regional cities.

So what does the future hold for small venues of around 2000m2?  Throughout this period, local and regional trade fairs have remained popular and smaller agile organisers have been creative about developing smaller niche business events.  Looking locally, I believe that the real growth within the industry will come from the expansion of small niche consumer and special interest events and the development of new business exhibitions.

It is important for small venues to be ahead of the game and look for emerging trends in the industry.  I see an opportunity to form partnerships with organisers to help develop new niche events and launch them to test their viability.  Venues close to dedicated exhibition halls have an important roll to play.

It is here that our small venues offer excellent value.  For a start we are flexible, free from the restraints of large overheads and above all value for money.  Ideal for an organiser looking to test the market?

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