The talk is of new dates, no weekends and perhaps most importantly of all a shift of emphasis to shell scheme stands.
I don’t think there’s many that wouldn’t welcome a move to a weekday format, affording a little more space in the hectic first quarter trade show schedule and giving a weekend back. Retailers in particular have never been keen on Saturdays, their busiest day of trading.
More controversial, however, is the talk of making the show shell scheme only. It will certainly reduce costs for the small to medium-sized companies but may not make a lot of cost difference to the bigger guys that already own bespoke schemes.
It’s great that there is a real debate about it and that the BTHA is so open-minded. It’s hopefully not too alarmist to say that the show definitely needs something to change.
It is facing the dilemma that all trade shows face at some stage in their life cycle - business or show business? Can a trade event comfortably function as both a business forum and an industry showcase? How can it be all things to all men? Shell scheme will be perfect for some but not represent the brand values that others want to project.
Whichever way it jumps it will not be able to keep everyone happy but at least it will be following the wishes of the majority of its members when any change is made.
The real problem is stand-set up and show dates are all interlinked. You can’t alter one and not affect the other.
Personally, shell scheme is great for certain smaller venues but I think if the show is at ExCeL then it can ill afford to lose its remaining razzmatazz for fear of looking out of place. The industry needs to look confident. I’m not sure shell schemes project that.
My gut feeling is that after some consultation the show will remain as it is. For this year at least.