Attendance at IPEX

Jim Hamilton
May 25, 2010

There is no question that IPEX attendance was hurt by the travel problems associated with the Icelandic volcano. The real question is “How many people chose not to come because of it?” 5%? 10%? 25%? We’ll never know, but it definitely had a significant impact. Many people were delayed and many cancelled their trips entirely. And yet, it could have been much, much worse. The travel blackouts only lasted for a relatively small block of time. If it had been for three or four days the impact would have been devastating. With economic concerns still looming, particularly in the European Union with the Greek crisis, the last thing a trade show of the scale of IPEX needed was travel disruption brought on by an act of God. It makes exhibitors even more nervous than they already are about the money they invest in trade shows.

The IPEX organizers announced on Friday that they were delighted with the overall visitor numbers, which they said were in line with IPEX 2006, despite industry consolidation. They reported that the show had over 35,000 visitors by the end of day three (Thursday) and that international attendance was up by 16% (representing 56% of the total). This is encouraging. It will be interesting to see the final attendance numbers.

For the most part I was encouraged by the level of attendance I saw at IPEX. It’s impossible to judge attendance solely on a look around the show floor, but it does give you a flavor of what’s happening. I saw big crowds in many booths between Tuesday and Friday (my days on the floor). I’m talking about the big players with large well-positioned stands. Booth placement is an important consideration for any show, but it seemed particularly critical at IPEX. The far reaches of the hall were often deserted. And once, on Friday during the middle of the day, I walked through a large vendor’s stand that was totally devoid of customers. It’s the sight you never want to see: demo people looking around wistfully for something to do and scores of sales reps looking bored and talking on their cell phones.

Some other IPEX thoughts:

  • Nowhere is the so-called “publisher’s dilemma” clearer than in the show guide, the big thick IPEX overview book that sells for 25 British pounds. How many copies should you print? You can’t run out, so you have to overprint. You know what the sales levels were for previous shows, but with attendance in question and reading habits evolving toward electronic delivery, it certainly is a tough call about how many to print. You want to have some (but not too many available for orders that come in after the show). It seems like a good case for a replenishment model driven by digital print. (And then moving to a print-on-demand model after the show.) Doing so, though, would be a significant statement for a show like IPEX that has such a tradition in analog print.
  • A week seems like a very long time for show of this type (and drupa is even longer!) Pity the poor show staff who are there for the duration. I will be very curious to hear how the attendance levels were for the weekend and the last two days of the show. Should the next IPEX last a full week?
  • Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is huge and the directional signage inside the halls is terrible. The big players, those with immense logos hanging from the ceiling, are relatively easy to find but it’s particularly difficult to locate some of the smaller stands. It’s also very easy to get turned around and lost. I spent a lot of time just trying to get oriented so that I knew which direction to point to in order to get to the next hall. Good signage on the floor would be a major improvement. The small show map wasn’t much help either. Though it had an alphabetical listing of the vendors by hall, it lacked what it desperately needed: an alphabetical list of all vendors and their hall/stand location.
IPEX - See You in 2014

IPEX - See You in 2014

Receive a weekly summary of recent blogs and other exclusive content.

InfoTrends Resources

New InfoTrends Studies

More blogs from

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux