We all know that the quantum exhibitor sqm is falling in the UK but given certain parties who hold key data are not likely to share it any time soon we are not going to get much insight.

It’s a shame as rather than just a top-level figure and whisper the industry would be able to see exactly how the sqm is falling.

It doesn’t have to be show specific but determining which sectors are falling and which are not would be a great start.

What would be even better is understanding whether the quantum number of exhibiting companies is falling or are they just getting smaller stands?

This type of information about the exhibition hall would be massively beneficial in understanding how exhibitors engage with exhibitions.

It is much like the high street.

The traditional high street has changed over the years and it gives massive insight into how the world is changing.

Nowadays you can’t turn a corner without seeing a coffee shop (or a charity shop) but on the flip side video stores are a distant memory and super brands like Woolworths, BHS and C&A are dust.

Banks and how they are treating the high street is a curious area. In 1988 there were 20,583 bank branches and now in 2017 that figure sits around the 8,000 mark and is still sliding.

That’s a big fall.

Let’s hope the exhibition industry isn’t falling like that. (PS: It’s not)

The interesting thing about the banks is they understand the difference in how customers interact with the branches….and it’s shrinking.

I can’t remember the last time I visited a bank, very few of us pay in cheques anymore and the majority of new savings accounts are opened online.

With that in mind, Lloyds’ has developed a new type of branch that effectively strips out the tradition – the cashiers, the desks and the queues are gone.

These new branches require very little space and Lloyds has started to open these mini banks that at their smallest measure just 16sqm.

Yep, that’s a bank that measures 4m wide and 4m deep on the high street.

That’s no bigger than a garden shed and compares to 324sqm which is the average size for smaller branches.

16 vs. 324??

In the next year they plan to open up 25 mini-banks – that’s enough to give the commercial letting agencies a cardiac.

Could you imagine the exhibitor yield if this became a thing in our industry?

All is not lost though they are also opening up 15 larger style branches which have coffee shops, meeting rooms for local businesses who are customers and they are learning hubs to help get people online safely and aware of cyber security.

But on the whole banks are getting less and smaller on the high street. By the end of 2017, Lloyds high street stock will be down a further 400 to just 1,600.

When you read retail examples like this it really highlights the need for insight into the quantum exhibition sqm, the breakdown of stand size and how exhibitors are using their stands.

Big stands, small stands, medium stands. Launchpad zone. 1-2-1 meetings. It’s all in the mix and there is a place for all of them – it would just be nice to know what is going on beyond a whisper and a guess.

Retail is undergoing and requiring accelerated change due to digital disruption, cost pressures and rising inflation.

It’s no different for the exhibition industry – although our rate of change is much slower.

At the heart of the issue, and this is the big lesson, we need to understand the real value of the space we sell.

Big, medium, small or sheds.

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Exhibitor Smarts is a specialist exhibitor agency working alongside organisers and suppliers to maximise exhibitor revenue and performance.

We also work directly with exhibitors saving more than 30% off their costs.

Email: jim@exhibitorsmarts.com

Follow: @exhibitorsmarts

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