Planning for the 2018 Commercial Kitchen show is already underway, with the June event now a firm fixture on the industry calendar as it enters its third year. FEJ caught up with group event director, Chris Brazier, to reflect on the outcome of this year’s event and get some hints on what it might have in store in the future.
You’ve had some time to reflect on Commercial Kitchen 2017 now. What are your observations on how it all went and, as an exhibition organiser, how do you judge a show’s success?
I think there are a few ways of judging a show’s success but one thing I look for is how many exhibitors sign up to return for the following year. If they want to exhibit again even before they leave the show then they feel their investment was worth it. This year over 60% of exhibitors rebooked their stand onsite which is high for any trade show let alone a show in its second year. Many exhibitors are taking bigger stands too, which is obviously a good sign for all of us.
We also had the best visitor testimonials we’ve ever had so it’s great to know these quality buyers are enjoying their industry event. We increased the numbers of buyers that had a spend of over £5m by a whopping 18%. We are proud that the show is just for the biggest buyers of kitchen equipment and services. As we’ve always said, it’s quality not quantity and I think that goes for exhibitors and visitors.
Organising a show for the second year must bring a different set of challenges to its launch year. What were these and how did you deal with them?
Absolutely. Both visitors and exhibitors expect to see growth. We want sensible growth too so I’m delighted that we had more exhibitors than in year one and expect to see even more next year. More importantly, we had more visitors and even better quality than in year one. It’s easy to increase visitor numbers but we only want to increase them if it’s the quality buyers that come. By working with the industry, great associations like CEDA and FCSI, and embarking on our biggest targeted marketing campaign yet, we were able to attract and indeed increase the senior audience of kitchen equipment and kitchen services buyers.
What sort of feedback have you had from exhibitors to the ways in which you might look to improve the show moving forward?
The feedback from the exhibitors has been fantastic and we can’t thank them enough. One thing that we are working with them on is to create something bigger in the evening for them to network with each other at. It’s a really sociable industry who are incredibly professional but do like having some fun too. As the show has grown it’s only right that we do something to celebrate the two days that the industry gets together. Watch this space.
There were some major catering equipment buyers at the show over the course of the two days – what vibe did you get from them in terms of what they were looking for during their visit?
I think they were hugely impressed by the exhibitors and the new innovations they were launching. It’s great that equipment buyers have a show where every product is relevant to their needs and where innovations that could revolutionise their business are launched. As the show grows I feel this will grow too and we will see even more industry innovation launching in line with the show dates.
“The show will be bigger and I’d expect to see more visitors, although not at the expense of quality”
When does planning for the 2018 show start and can we expect any dramatic changes to the format?
The planning for 2018 started the moment this year’s show started. So many ideas come out at the show from listening to exhibitors and visitors. We do have a few surprises up our sleeves, I don’t think there will be lots of changes in that we are staying completely focussed to the industry but what we can expect is growth. The show will be bigger and I’d expect to see more visitors, although not at the expense of quality. The quality of buyers, rather than the numbers of visitors will always be the most important thing to us and the exhibitors.
A lot of the other shows you run are based in London. Do you still believe Birmingham is the optimal location for Commercial Kitchen?
Absolutely, it was actually mentioned in the visitor testimonials and feedback forms. London is great and of course home to many great restaurants and pubs but we continue to attract the senior equipment buyers from those end-users to the NEC for their annual industry show. It’s important that the whole industry remembers that there are also great restaurants and pubs, as well as huge buyers from care homes, hospitals, schools plus the huge number of design / project houses, based all over the country and they also appreciate having a centrally located show.
There are naturally other UK trade shows that catering equipment suppliers can exhibit at and catering equipment buyers can visit. What do you think sets Commercial Kitchen apart as a platform for bringing the two groups together?
At Diversified Communications, we really like shows that are focussed, targeted and dedicated to an industry. So, while there are many great shows where you can meet a range of buyers for a certain sector we are confident that we are the only show that is completely dedicated to the commercial kitchen industry. Therefore, if you are a buyer of equipment or kitchen services you know that every exhibitor has relevant products for you. And every exhibitor knows that every visitor is someone very interested in sourcing the best equipment for their operation.