Mash Media MD Julian Agostini asks – are we shaping the future?

Julian Agostini

With action-packed weekends and Sundays now the day of the week, the Monday morning sick note has become the bane of every employer. When I was a boy, Sunday was the worst day of the week. All the shops were closed, the pubs shut early and there was absolutely nothing on television. If you had told me then that Sunday would now be a day where you could go shopping in the morning and then go down the pub or go home to watch a couple of Premier League football matches in the afternoon, I would never have believed you.

In the same respect, children growing up in the seventies would have thought you were crazy if you told them that in 2014, bottled water would be the second best-selling soft drink. But everyone would have believed it if you said that in the future, they’d be able to get Coca Cola out of the tap in their kitchen. My point is, no matter how much you try to predict the future, there is absolutely no way of knowing what it will be.

The same goes for our industry. For years, no matter the sort of exhibition, most tradeshows are mapped out to be three days long. This works for blockbuster events, but should it be a hard and fast rule that our industry adheres to? The world has moved on and perhaps it’s time for a rethink. Technology is making everything smaller, transport is better and people’s time out of the office is being squeezed. But the length of our tradeshows has remained the same. Do we really need a third day?

Many third days of tradeshows are often the least attended, so how about this; why don’t we just have two really good days? I know some of you are reading this and are thinking surely fewer days would mean less money and potentially a knock-on effect of potentially tenancies shutting down.

Not necessarily. We lead the market so why don’t we stop accepting the norm of holding exhibitions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday? Why can’t a venue hold an exhibition on Monday and Tuesday, use Wednesday as a breakdown and a turnaround day and then hold another exhibition on Thursday and Friday? Am I dreaming? Am I poking the fire a little bit? Maybe a bit of both, but I am putting the question out there.

Could two exhibitions a week at the same venue be the future? Could we even start holding trade shows at the weekend? If it meant workers who attended these events got days in lieu, surely the lure of those days off during the week would encourage more people to attend weekend events, which would increase attendance figures.

Maybe this idea is just Coke out of a tap, but perhaps it could also be bottled water. As an industry, we need to decide if we react to change or if we create the change. As an innovative industry, surely it is the latter?

This was first published in exhibition news