New exhibition organisers tend to rent bigger venue than they can sell

March 15, 2013 at 2:50 AM

A new health food and natural cosmetics exhibition held in Thailand recently booked 40% more exhibition space it could sell, an industrial exhibition had 30% more, a toy and hobby exhibition did not fare any better – countless of new exhibition organisers, at least in Asean, tend to have overcapacity of space.

However, unlike overspending on marketing that returns some consolations in form of additional exposures, overcapacity of exhibition space is pure waste and puts pressure on organisers to commit other costly mistakes such as down-pricing booth rates to fill in huge space in time.

Overcapacity exhibitions follow a similar pattern in that everything appears normal until panic sets in around 5-3 months before the show when it becomes a race against time to fill in the remaining unsold space.

In is not uncommon to see the rates of 9 sq m standard booths slashed down by 52% for foreign exhibitors, say, from $3,240 to $1,700. Rates for local exhibitors can drop by 56%, for example from $871 to $484 and to as low as $274 in many cases.

I did not include free booths in the above obviously because they were not sold.

The tendency to do exhibition grand, which often means beautiful and big, rather than right could be blamed on inexperience, overconfidence and the drive to gain or save face, or to something else. Take a look at following facts.

According to a quantitative and qualitative audit of a repeat exhibition, exhibitor numbers had dropped by about 88.36% compared with the first quarter of the preceding year; booth intake retracted by 92.57%; none of the previous big companies and national pavilions had indicated their participation; only 5% of new potential exhibitors surveyed indicated interest in participating; supporting organisations were not as forthcoming with their support as in previous year; etc.

This ominous survey had zero effect on the exhibitor who maintained exhibitors would come, supporters would provide their support, downsizing the exhibition was not needed and the dates of the exhibition would not be moved despite the severe floods that hit Thailand.

As expected almost half of the exhibition remained unsold on exhibition days.