The growing importance of the Central and Eastern European territories was underlined earlier this month, as Advanstar hosted its first trade show in the region.
Some 292 retailers and manufacturers visited the Corinthia Grand Hotel in Budapest over March 8th and 9th, exceeding the organiser’s expectations. “We were expecting around 200 visitors over the two days,” event director Jessica Blue explains to Licensing.biz. “However, our focus has always been on attracting the right mix of countries, product categories and organisation types. If our exhibitors are satisfied, then we are too.
“As event organisers, there were a few surprises. The number of people that turned up on the day without registering in advance was far in excess of what we expected and many more people than the trade show average returned for a second day.
“The final surprise was that the number of people pre-registering and attending was 73 per cent, and it is normally around 50 per cent for a trade show.”
Exhibitors were also impressed with the quality and amount of visitors: “The show was excellent for us, we met up with a lot of new clients and made some very positive connections,” says Morten Geschwendtner, director of Kidz Entertainment/EEMC. “Trade in general certainly seems to be picking up. There was a large number of licensors supporting the event and it was good to meet up with our own licensors and share some thoughts.”
Hakan Durdag, MD of European Licensing Company, adds: “Overall we were happy with the show’s organisation and the team supporting it – it certainly benefited from the Advanstar touch. We were happy with the turnout, with some visitors coming from as far afield as Turkey and Russia. We definitely plan to support next year’s show and hope it will receive more coverage in the local press and media in 2011.”
Turner CN Enterprises will also be returning next year: “BLCEE was an extremely positive, worthwhile experience for us and our agents working in the marketplace,” Lindsay Pearl, territory manager for CEE, Greece and Turkey offers. “Advanstar should be congratulated on organising a great show and for recognising that CEE as a region is deserving of its own trade event.”
However, there was still acceptance that the marketplace still has a long way to go. “These are not easy markets and will take time to build,” points out John McInnerny, MD of Allsorts Licensing. “Attendance has to be seen as an investment for the future. However, the presence of so many different nationalities indicated that the organiser’s had done their job.”
“It was interesting,” adds AT New Media’s Paul Comben, “but the companies we met seeking licences have a long way to go. They need educating about the disciplines, expectations and processes of licensing and their economies lead to modest sales forecasts.”
Kidz Entertainment’s Geschwendtner adds: “We would have liked to have seen more retailers present and my recommendation going forward would be that the show adopts a multi-national approach, taking in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia and spending two days in each country.”
From a visitor’s point of view, 30 per cent were completely new to licensing, while 15 per cent of the audience was made up by retailers. “The opportunity to discuss commercial opportunities face to face with key partners, including retailers, is a rare one in Eastern Europe for many of us, and I can see the event growing and gaining momentum in subsequent years,” Andrew Kerr, EVP international marketing and consumer products at Classic Media, offers. “The intimate scale and social atmosphere makes for a terrific opportunity to begin key relationships and cement others.”
Head of licensing and merchandising at E1, Andrew Carley concurred that the show created that all important buzz. “Whilst business by many standards is small we see this as very much nurturing a potentially much larger opportunity and the timing of the show fits very much within that philosophy.”
For Advanstar, the task is now to build on the initial success: “The event will continue to evolve and reflect the size and shape of the CEE market that it serves,” says Blue. “We are canvassing opinion from visitors and exhibitors as to how they would like to see the event evolve in 2011.”