30 Sep 2013



(Picture: trade shows headed for life support? Actual exhibit at INTEGRATE 2013!)

Our guest editorial in CX this month by Jason Allen makes the startling yet believable claim that total visitor time spent attending all three trade shows held in Sydney this year was worth $14,404,000.

Jason says assuming your time is worth $800 a day, then using the claims of attendance at ENTECH, SMPTE and INTEGATE produces his target number, north of fourteen–and-a-half million bucks.


Which had me thinking about the entire cost affect of these shows, all piled into a short timeframe and all gloriously centred on Sydney. We don’t know the interstate visitor breakdown, but when I ran ENTECH it was around a third. So take the 18,005 people and divide by three to get 6,002 of you flying in for a day. Add about $400 each for a flight and a bed in a backpacker hostel and you get $2,400,800 extra. Most of us spend a lot more, at CX we allow $700 a day in Australia, which would punch this number well over $4 million. But we’ve chosen the low number here.

What about the biggest cost of all – the burden on the exhibitors who fund all this? Assuming what we know, the three shows generated about $3.5 million in floor space sales, and once built and staffed the cost to exhibitors is at least four times the cost of the floor space. In many cases it is over six times, but we will opt for the low number.

So we have a $14 million cost for exhibitors, $14.4 million for your time, and $2.5 million for your interstate travel. Add on far-too-much money for parking at the soon to be demolished Darling Harbour centre and you get a very freaking big number, well over $30 million. That’s the COST of the three shows, to our industry. All of us.


Seeing that you would then expect to be able to work out a macro value of economic activity across our diverse and niched industry.

If we collectively spent $30 million, how would be guess the turnover? Start with exhibitors. They have marketing budgets that are around 4% of turnover. Of that 4%, less than half would be tradeshows. Let’s be generous and make their $14 million be 2%. That means they turnover $700 million.

Now deal with the visitor cost. Assume one visitor attends one tradeshow a year, at the cost of $800 for the day plus travel if from interstate. Adding travel and time, we get $16.9 million.

Your average audio visual supplier or production house or venue would probably allow one visit with travel for each person paid $70,000 or more. Take 18,005 visits (using the attendance numbers given by the three commercial outfits that run this profitable business) times that by 70 grand, and you get $1,260,350,000 which is easier to say as one billion, two hundred and sixty million, three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

The upshot of all this is that the three trade shows, run commercially for profit (and I include SMPTE as the trade show is owned by a commercial company)  require economic activity of two billion dollars to exist.

CX doesn’t think our market is worth $2 billion, and we don’t identify 18 thousand unique visitors for these shows. We guess the industry is worth about $1.2 billion in gross turnover, and we know of about 14,000 full time equivalent positions across Australia.

Clearly there is something wrong here, and we don’t think the error lies in our numbers. What do you think?

Comment below!


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