• Cyril McAree

Irish Exhibition and Trade Fair Organisers Call on Government Clarity

Representing the majority of event companies who organise trade fairs and exhibitions in Ireland, the Irish Exhibition Organisers Association (IEOA) is calling for clarity from Government on whether trade and consumer exhibitions can recommence this Autumn.

With the economy gradually re-opening, IEOA members’ trade fairs and exhibitions deliver a vital sales pipeline for thousands of businesses. In September and October alone, over 3,000 small businesses are already booked to exhibit at IEOA member events.

For exhibitors such as Bernadette Kennelly Wedding Cakes from Navan, September’s Wedding & Honeymoon Show is a crucial opportunity for Bernadette to secure essential sales for the remainder of the year and the following year.

"I have exhibited at the Wedding & Honeymoon Show for 15 years, and as a small, cake-making business, without this show my business has no profile, voice or representation in the wedding industry,” explains Bernadette.

Bernadette is just one of thousands of SMEs who have recently reopened their businesses following lock-down, and for whom trade fairs and exhibitions are an essential way to meet new customers, launch products and secure future sales.

Garret Buckley, Chair, IEOA and Managing Director of EventHaus comments: “Collectively, our trade fairs and exhibitions are responsible for generating millions of euro in sales for our exhibitors, many of which are small Irish businesses who depend on our events for sales.

“Our events are essentially ‘marketplaces’ and they will provide SMEs with a valuable opportunity to stimulate their sales in the post-lockdown era.”

At a time when generating new business has never been more important, the IEOA is calling for clarity from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation which will enable the sector to plan for its safe re-opening.

To assist the Government, the IEOA has already published its own roadmap for members, which includes guidelines and protocols*** which have been circulated to the Department of Business and to the Health & Safety Authority.

Garret continues: “With all exhibitions and trade fairs cancelled since mid-March, we now need certainty to facilitate planning for our Autumn events. We are confident that our proposed protocols will enable our events to operate safely, fully adhering to Government guidelines on social distancing.”

Recognising that the Government is working through the phases, the IEOA is calling for action now as timing is crucial in the planning of events, with minimum lead times at two months but in most occasions is much longer.

“It goes without saying that the health and safety of our employees, exhibitors and visitors is our number one priority, and our robust guidelines clearly show how smaller, niche events can run smoothly in a safe manner,” says Garret.

In addition to delivering business for exhibitors, many other contractors, such as venues, stand-construction, catering, lighting, cleaning, and security businesses, depend on income from trade fairs and exhibitions.

Michael Duffy, Chief Executive of The RDS adds: “Large venues throughout Ireland have the capacity, resources and professional expertise in 'people movement' to assist event organisers hold trade fairs & exhibitions in a safe and responsible way, adhering to Government guidelines.

“The lead-in times for exhibitions and trade fairs are typically six months or more, with many people involved. Quarter 4 is always the busiest time of year for such events, with many SMEs receiving bookings or orders for the following year - never more vital than in these times. Those involved in events September and October need time and some level of certainty and clarity on future guidelines in order to prepare for these events now.”

Many European countries, including France, Germany and Switzerland, have recognised the importance the trade fairs and exhibitions to the overall economy, confirming that exhibitions can take place from 1st September 2020. Detailed report: https://www.dropbox.com/s/zsjnmftteinb9qn/World%20Show%20Update.pdf?dl=0

The total Irish events industry represents 35,000 workers (Full time Equivalent) and a market value Industry Output of €3.5 billion*. In Europe, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) valued direct spending from European trade fairs and exhibitions in 2018** at €39.5bn, with the sector employing 358,000 across European nations.

The IEOA is calling upon policy makers to understand the importance of its members’ events, and how they will play a vital role in accelerating the overall economic recovery in Ireland.

For further information on the IEOA Roadmap to Safe Exhibitions and Covid-19 protocols, see http://www.ieoa.ie/covid-19-campaign.html


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