From The Editor: Listen to your customers or they will vote with their feet

Having experienced the London Book Fair at its final outing in Olympia in 2005, it is safe to say that it had outgrown its Kensington home. The show floor heaved with publishers crowded onto stands, trying to conduct business while 23,000 visitors squeezed past each other sideways down aisles.

The move to Excel London in March seemed obvious. After all, the London Book Fair is internationally acclaimed, backed by government and run by one of the world's most powerful organisers. It is precisely the model of successful trade show Excel was built for. Why then was this opportunity allowed to turn into a farce by a decision to co-locate the Book Fair with a trade show of similar size called Professional Beauty?

Overcrowding on a scale not even witnessed at Olympia has since caused a publishers' revolt (page 6). Key exhibitors mutinied and pledged allegiance to Frankfurt's plans to launch against Reed at Earls Court, in scenes reminiscent of Clarion Events waking up one morning in 2001 to find that BMW had pulled out of the London Motor Show.

When exhibitors vote with their feet an organiser can do little to rescue a show. Reed will count itself very fortunate it still has a London Book Fair and Excel will surely be licking its wound, determined that next time the customer will come first.

This episode should also be a warning to National Boat Shows (NBS) as it unveils Tim Pyne's feature designs for the 2007 London Boat Show (page 7). The organiser should be applauded for embracing radical plans to transform the show and stem the fall in attendance. But with exhibitors being asked to reduce stand space to make way for creativity, NBS has to listen every step of the way.

Finally, a big 'thank you' to all readers who have entered the 2006 Event Awards. Judging takes place next month but Haymarket Events is taking table bookings for the ceremony on 22 September at the London Hilton on Park Lane.


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