Trevor Connell reports on SES and ABEE
Some exhibitors I spoke to at SES/ABEE thought it time for the two shows to merge – I disagree. Although the delineation between the halls has all but disappeared there was a considerable difference in the feel between each hall.
The Australian Business Events Expo (ABEE) is retaining the focus on venues and destinations and has a very businesslike feel to it; while next door the feel is much bouncier with the focus more on interactive entertainment, décor and services. And then down in Hall 6 the Showbiz Boulevard and Entertainment Showcase were really rocking.
The effort put into the stands by the exhibitors was in many cases simply stunning.
In ABEE the standout was Doltone House – whimsical and stylish. Staging Connections was an interesting experiment – very little branding so it just looked like a rather large bar and according to some I spoke to there, that worked for them. The Star stand was the first outing for the revamped Star City rebranding and certainly pulled the curious in.
Business Events Sydney launched the new branding for Sydney (wheels within wheels – soooo Sydney) and Sydney Olympic Park have moved on from the big O.
The Lobby worked really well and I saw quite a number of people doing business there, accompanied by some laid back music.
In Sydney’s Event Showcase (SES) the Central Showcase provided welcome seating and a coffee for those who needed respite from wandering the show floor. This space served well for the ISES breakfast event on the second day and showcased a massive lolly table as well (but no information as to who installed it so we must assume that Delwin paid for it!)
Decorative Events went all out with real turf for a lawn party complete with croquet (and the girls looked stunning in their ‘now’ take on the 1920s)
Sydney Props Specialists went double sided with a ‘Back to School’ theme on one side and a total contrast on the other – lots of pink and white stuff (as described by SPS owner Greg Hancock).
Aeralize showed just how to extend a 3 x 3 stand by installing a rig overhead with the girls doing various shows – effectively making their stand 3 x 3 x 30.
The Lounge and Entertainment Showcase was the nosiest section and as it was way down the end of Hall 6 was not a bother to the main expo areas. The Ferrari on the way in to this section was also quite an attraction.
So that was the good stuff that Delwin Kriel and his team can be proud of, but there is always room for improvement.
Exhibitors always want more buyers and I know that Delwin and his team do a hell of a lot of targeted marketing to get them in and although the visitation level is slowly increasing – I’ll put an idea forward (down the page).
One of the perennial problems going back to the Sydney On Sale days is students and this year there seemed to be more than ever. Does every TAFE in NSW now have an event management course? It certainly seemed that way. And incidentally where do all these students think they are going to be employed? Hopefully as lowly paid waitstaff on events where they can see first-hand just how much work is involved.
Years ago students were banned from Sydney On Sale until the afternoon of the second day and they were briefed on protocols – don’t pick up a brochure from every stand (they can cost up to $5 ea. to produce) and don’t annoy the exhibitors if they are engaged with a client. Certainly these students need to be exposed to the industry and what is on offer but maybe it is time to go back to the SOS protocol for them.
And when the big lolly display was opened up to sample it was almost demolished – by students.
The wandering entertainment really help to make SES a vibrant space but I know that some of them wandered into ABEE – and were not appreciated. They just need to be briefed better.
After a full day on the trade show floor comes the Party After Dark (PAD) and this year it was really no more than an industry piss-up. It was very crowded at Bungalow 8 and it just felt like a standard Friday night (I was told by some who go there on Friday nights).
So how can the excellent showcase expo be improved?
To my mind the party needs to continue the purpose of the exhibitions into the night.
The most effective resent PAD in my opinion was held in Melbourne last year and this is why. Guests arrived at the Old Melbourne Gaol and were ushered into a wing with cells towering above them. They were taken on a journey through the cells and through the lives of the inmates. This achieved an interactive event experience while showcasing the venue and performers.
Then guests were led to another wing where various companies had taken over the cells to showcase their product or to just show off. This included a chill out room lined with bean bags, a fortune teller, chocolate delights, a couple of very eccentric mini bars, a burlesque performer (viewed through a slit in the door) and many more. In other rooms food in the theme of prison fare was served, you could be a Rockstar for a Day and there was probably a photobooth (because they are everywhere now).
This was in effect a continuation of the trade show and was a perfect showcase for party and entertainment fare in an event environment. And it was perfect for buyers to attend.
This year’s Melbourne Event Showcase was on the right track with the PAD as it segued from the trade show floor to the mezzanine level for the party – but there were no buyers, just exhibitors heading for a piss-up.
The precursor to RSVP and ABEE was Sydney On sale and before that – Sydney Destination One. This was SCVB (now BESydney) members teaming together (event manager, staging, technical, catering, entertainment) to provide (from memory) four or six mini event spaces in the cargo area of the Overseas Passenger Terminal and they took it in turns to showcase to buyers how there event could look and feel.
The subsequent SOS and RSVP parties that I think worked were all an event in themselves.
Two worth a mention.
The David Grant produced event at Doltone House with a huge bar in the centre of the room and performers coming up onto the bar, doing a spot then leaving. This event showcased the venue and the entertainment and allowed plenty of networking opportunity.
Second the Burlesque party at Home nightclub produced by Michael Cartwright, once again an event in itself that showcased décor, food, entertainment and the flexibility of the venue. Yes the entertainment offended some people, but hey that’s showbiz folks.
Yes the event was let down by the disorganisation at the beginning that left guests outside in freezing conditions because they came straight across from SCEC when the show closed at 5 and the event was not due to start until 6.
But once inside the event worked!
So here is my suggestion – how about a neat segue from the trade show to the party!
First up run the trade show until 6 PM on the first evening (or even later). Many exhibitors put drinks on at their stand already so essentially switch to party mode from around 4 PM and encourage visitors (especially PAs and EAs) who cannot get away from work during the day to take an early mark and come down from 4 PM onwards. Then take selected buyers along to the party and make the party another showcase, a continuation of the exhibition.
Thoughts please! And don’t be afraid to tell me if you think the idea stinks as well.