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With 90% of all space allocated for the ABTT Theatre Show next June, it’s worth asking why. In a world where the default means of finding out about something is to Google it, in a world where you go to Amazon to buy anything and in a world where you text people rather than talk to them, it seems an anachronism that companies choose to exhibit to promote what they do. Look at the situation a bit closer and it is actually more of a head scratcher that companies choose not to exhibit.

ABTT Theatre Show 2020 poster

The internet isn’t always the panacea that it might seem to be. I needed to know what the Italian word ‘dado’ meant. I needed an Italian to English translation. Nuts was the answer – as in nuts and bolts. The only problem was that I was making arancini, Italian stuffed rice balls, and to the best of my knowledge, they don’t have bits of metal in them. It took a bit of searching and I eventually found out that ‘stock’ was the answer. The point I am making is that if you don’t know what you are looking for on the internet, you may easily end up with the wrong thing. If you have the opportunity to converse with a wide range of experts at a trade show, you stand a high chance of avoiding rookie errors on the back of the experience of others. Time, experience and knowledge are some of the most valuable commodities in the world. All being on offer at a show such as the ABTT Theatre Show makes it nonsensical to walk on by. In essence, old fashioned communication is as good as it ever was.

Delving back a few years, I remember reading a book about Mark McCormack, the founder of IMG. What struck me was that he conducted his business very much on his own terms. He would not take any calls in the morning and whenever communication was ‘outbound’ it was always on his terms. He was always in control of the agenda, he was on top of his subject and this led to inevitable success. There are similarities with our exhibitors. They make choices about the nature of their space, what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. They are self contained and do not depend on others to realise their objectives. They set their agenda and derive a distinct benefit form the investment in exhibiting. The financial outlay can certainly be modest and if properly exploited, it can be a ‘no brainer’. It’s all about understanding the event, the industry, the exhibitors and the visitors. It’s all about opportunity. A bit of conventional marketing graft and ingenuity can easily deliver the required results when the client purchasing cycle comes around. Golden rule: It’s not about instant orders, it’s about contacts and making sure your name is in the frame when the time comes. Be visible.

The Show Director is Isobel Hatton, whose background is in theatre. Her experience brings a great understanding of many industry exhibitors. Unlike many other B2B exhibitions, the primary purpose of the ABTT Theatre Show is an industry networking event where exhibitors get a distinct advantage by presenting their offer in a sympathetic environment. From a marketing perspective, the exhibitors have access to bespoke email footers with tracking links enabling them to invite their clients and suppliers to the event. Historically, it is the marketing activity of each exhibitor inviting their own clients and suppliers, which has made a major contribution to the stimulating melting pot of industry operators – those who deliver the end product. It’s almost a form of cross contamination but with good germs! Exhibitors are part of a team that has become the ‘go to’ reference point for the entertainment industry. From a broader perspective, Isobel presents a spectrum of exhibitors, which is highly relevant to the full cross section of operators in the industry. Visitors are not always ’single track’. The nature of presenting a live show is multi disciplinary and more often than not, a visitor will be interested in more than one discipline.

The ABTT Theatre Show is the place where you get to find new people. They may be students. They may be relatively new to the industry and not yet on the radar. They may have come for one reason but didn’t realise that it was you who had the solution all the way along. Acorns and Oak trees. Although there is a hard core of exhibitors who are ever present, there is a steady turnover of new exhibitors. Our estimate is that there are in the region of 6500 working people in our industry sector of which a third attend the show every year. It is comforting that the other two thirds are probably too busy working to attend!

This insight goes part way to explain why year on year, The ABTT Theatre Show presents a full exhibition floor with a distinct programme of complementary activities. Wisdom, seminars, training sessions, demonstrations and workshops all form part of an event that is more of a convention than a straightforward exhibition.

If you have booked as an exhibitor – welcome! If you are interest in exhibiting, please get in touch with Isobel. If you have registered as a visitor – thank you! If you would like to visit and want to know how to register, please follow this link.