From the Editor: Flaws in ABC audit system leave data open to misuse

Many organisers would have a lot of sympathy with Waypoint Exhibitions chairman Phil Soar when he complains that the variety of show audits leaves the system open to misuse (page 6).

It all boils down to the fact that paid for audits should be available to use as marketing tools as well as documents of self-assessment. Currently, when an organiser attempts to use audited data to market a show against a rival event with a different type of audit, they are suddenly confronted with the issue of non-comparability.

It is unfair to compare the headline "visitor figure" from a Standard audit with the headline "attendance figure" of a Profile certificate, it's like comparing apples with pears.

In the publishing business, circulation audits are well-respected and used all the time by magazine sales teams to pitch one title against another.

For the same to happen with exhibitions there needs to be a change in the system.

The solution being pursued by the Association of Exhibition Organisers will mean a more expensive Standard audit. The idea is bound to get an icy reception from large organisers with a plethora of shows that all need auditing or from the small organiser who may struggle to meet the extra cost. But for greater transparency and to give the certificate greater clout, the Standard audit upgrade needs to happen.

Exhibitors see a successful show as a central plank of their company's marketing strategy. It's time for a transparent Standard audit to play an equally important role in the organiser's marketing budget thus it needs to break down attendance into visitor profiles and be made comparable to the detail of a Profile certificate.

Don't forget 21 May is the deadline for entries into this year's Event Awards. Over the past year the industry has put together a collection of inspiring campaigns covering exhibitions and event production. If yours was one of them, make sure it gets the recognition it deserves by entering it into this year's competition.

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