Interview: Alan Caddick talks sign-making events with Output
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By Kimberley Swift
13 July 2012
Alan Caddick is marketing manager for Faversham House Group's portfolio of sign and display exhibitions
In the last of her series of event-based interviews, Kimberley Swift discusses the exhibitions market with Alan Caddick, marketing manager for Sign and Digital UK, Digital Print UK and Sign and Digital Ireland, run by Faversham House Group.
There was some sadness in the industry when we learned that Sign and Digital Ireland would join Digital Print UK in being postponed. Can you give some insight as to why the shows have been moved back?
We took the decision to delay the Ireland shows after much consideration and research involving both visitors and exhibitors. Even with strong support, including a number of stands already booked, we felt the Irish economy needs more time to recover. We are working with the industry and are in discussions with the venue about preferred dates. Of course, as soon as we have further information we will be making the necessary announcements.
As for Digital Print UK it really was a timing issue. Having taken on board extensive feedback from exhibitors facing budget constraints due to drupa this year we felt it was best to put the show back, with the new dates confirmed as 5 – 7 November 2013. We firmly believe there is a real demand for a UK-focused, digital print-specific event that provides the total show experience where visitors can come and seek advice, see demonstrations and working applications in one place.
What are your impressions of how the market has evolved since the UK show in April?
Given that the show was only three months ago, it would be fair to say that the market has probably not evolved massively. However, as the show organisers of Sign and Digital UK, we always try to model the show on current and future market developments and opportunities through extensive research. In 2013 we will see an increased effort towards a few areas we believe need more attention, such as digital signage.
We are now consistently seeing new exhibitors at the show and 2013 will be no different. Smaller, more niche suppliers are attracted by a show like ours as it gives them the opportunity to meet a great selection of the market, and as the only [dedicated] annual national show we have strong, ABC-audited numbers of quality visitors year on year.
The market certainly views Sign and Digital UK as a 'buying' show and we have had some excellent testimonials to support this. The event is seen as a real showcase where you have new products and latest technology all in the same place – the benefit for the visitor is they can view, contrast and compare and make an informed buying decision then and there if they so wish.
Do you think annual exhibition shows are under threat because of the increase in road shows?
In a word, no. I think the two are very different in fact. A road show, or open day, is run by one or more manufacturers or suppliers where the visitor sees equipment that is relevant to those companies and expects to be sold to. At an exhibition you have a whole raft of manufactures and suppliers that compete as well as offer very different things. The beauty for the visitor is that they can get an unbiased view – they can choose what to see and who to speak to. In addition a visitor will benefit from a number of other show features that you would be unlikely to have at a road show, such as a varied range of product launches, seminars, impartial expert advice and extensive networking opportunities.
Does the increase in these road shows affect your role as an exhibition organiser?
I don't think the two directly compete. Some may have the view that these road shows do have a negative effect on our exhibitions but it's probably the opposite. These events provide different opportunities. We try and offer something for everyone, which would just not be applicable to a road show or open day. We try to give as many valid reasons as possible to attend and we reflect this in our extensive marketing campaign.
It is also probably worth mentioning that a successful road show or open day is actually a positive thing for events in general, as a strong event creates a buzz and cements the idea that events do work and are very worthwhile, even if they are annually and in the form of an exhibition.
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