What do you expect when you visit a trade exhibition? After all, you have taken a day off from your revenue generating activity, whatever that may be, so you certainly want to see some added value.
I had the privilege of attending Installer 2018 at the Ricoh Arena last week and this is a superb example of how an exhibition can become so much more than a load of stands in a hall. Of course there were over 100 stands from a very broad range of companies offering products and services to the heating and plumbing market.
But much more than this, there was a range of exciting and innovative features including a row of small stands showcasing products invented to address particular needs, many of which were developed by tradesmen seeing a solution to problems they had encountered. Some had been brought to market, some were still in the process.
Additionally, there were a series of debates featuring mixed panels of industry representatives discussing topics important to heating installers and plumbers. The debates were filmed and broadcast to screens around the show. There were also demonstrations filmed on the stands which were ‘live streamed’ throughout the day.
I loved the way visitors could buy products at the show. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing something you really like then being unable to find it after leaving the exhibition. I also liked the live demonstrations on some stands allowing visitors to get hands-on experience with products.
The exhibition is also the venue for the announcement of the keenly contested Heating Installer of the Year competition and the less official, but important Kit Fight.
But, most importantly, the show is successful because of the community of tradesmen and tradeswomen which has developed in parallel using social media platforms who exchange ideas, tips and experiences in an industry dominated by small, often one individual, businesses. They gather at the show to meet, to see the products and to have a lot of fun.
The sum of all these parts equals an exhibition to remember and a lesson in organisation and promotion. Well done to the organisers, the exhibitors but most of all, the visitors. I loved every minute of it.