Pre-registration helps first Square Meal offer

Last month's debut show from restaurant directory Square Meal saw City-based visitors queuing outside Old Billingsgate as its organiser revealed that pre-registration levels had topped 9,400.

The two-day Venues & Events show took place from 21-22 September and pre-registration resulted in estimates of more than 3,000 people attending.

Around 160 exhibitors comprising venues, some of which had teamed up with agencies to push Christmas packages, took mainly shell scheme stands in the venue's River Room and The Bridge balcony. And a two-day free seminar and workshop programme saw visitors cram into a 60-seat theatre to hear industry experts talk on subjects such as 'new venue openings' and 'how to get a job in events'.

Show director Tanya Cohen said: "Converting around 40% of our pre-registration into visits modestly matched our expectations and exhibitors have raved about the quality of those people they've seen.

"It was important to make the format work so we played it safe by not trying to run before we could walk and kept everything true to the Square Meal brand. There is now a huge opportunity to expand so rival shows should watch out."

The exhibition competes with London Venue Expo, staged in June, and RSVP, held at the end of March. It opened at 8.30am on its second day and stayed open late on day one to try to attract the City-based audience before and after work.

Show-floor content included a Venue Menu Help Desk that provided event and venue advice and plans for next year are likely to include expanding the floor-plan and charging visitors to attend seminars.

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