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Eric Everard at Easyfairs broadening the trade show and exhibitions market
Eric Everard, the founder of easyFairs has published a “manifesto” for expanding the trade show market based on a low-cost business model. In the white paper, Re-inventing the Trade Show as a Sales Event, Everard builds on the presentation he gave at last November’s UFI conference in Istanbul. With UFI currently reporting that the exhibitions industry has suffered badly in the recession, Everard argues for a simpler but more robust business model with a wider appeal.

“Trade shows are a brilliant way for a company to present itself and its products to a focused market,” says Everard. “Sadly however, the majority of companies simply cannot afford the high cost of participation at major trade fairs.”

“The time has therefore surely come for a return to the principle of ‘trade shows for people who simply want to do business’ says Everard. Of course, this must be achieved in the modern context where people have less time on their hands, and even small companies tend to trade in national and international markets.”

In Re-inventing the Trade Show as a Sales Event Everard draws on the analogy of the airline industry. “Twenty years ago few people could afford to fly. But the low-cost operators have transformed the industry by stripping out costs that did not add value for the ordinary traveller. We have done something very similar at Easyfairs.”

“However, there are a couple of important differences. First, the low cost business model will improve the exhibitions industry as a whole, principally because it provides an easy ‘nursery slope’ for first-time exhibitors. We are not taking business away from the big exhibitions, we are expanding the market.

“Second, the low cost model as pioneered by Easyfairs is good for the environment. In recent years the exhibitions industry has come under fire for its wastefulness. By contrast, all of the stands at an Easyfairs show are reusable. We want to be known as the green trade show organiser,” says Everard

Hugh Keeble, who himself played a leading role in the transformation of the UK trade shows market, comments “Easfairs has pioneered a robust business model because everyone wants to make sales, whatever the economic climate. It’s the big shows that are suffering during the recession.

“On the other hand, when the good times return, there will be many small and medium sized businesses looking for a time and cost-effective way to showcase their products and services,” adds Keeble.

In just five years, Easyfairs has expanded from a small portfolio of manufacturing industry shows in Belgium to 90 shows in 16 countries across Europe and Latin America, in multiple sectors. The company reported a € 30 million turnover in its last financial year and a staff headcount of 190. The company currently plans to launch 30 new shows over the coming 18 months in the hospitality, IT, industrial and food sectors. It is also developing partnerships with halls that wish to divest or rebrand some of their portfolio of shows. “We are looking carefully at opportunities to broaden our own portfolio with shows that are a good fit,” says Everard.

Eric Everard’s white paper Re-inventing the Trade Show as a Sales Event is available for download from Easyfairs at http://www.easyfairs.com/EN/corporate/resources.aspx