Fresh from the success of The Caravan & Motorhome Show and The Destinations Show, Rob Debenham, show manager, shares insight into his two most recent exhibitions. The annual shows have been hosted by EventCity, the largest and most versatile exhibition, conference and multi-purpose venue in the North of England, for eight consecutive years.
The largest of its kind, The Caravan & Motorhome Show offers the greatest choice of caravans, motorhomes and holiday homes in the North of England. The event showcases the latest models and products from over 200 exhibitors, where visitors can compare caravan layouts, motorhome interiors and holiday home specifications of the latest models.
The Destinations Show is the UK’s biggest holiday and travel event; with a diverse choice of exhibitors offering a variety of holiday and travel options, there are over 600 brands and more than 75 travel agencies. Experts on-hand have in-depth knowledge of destinations and experiences across the globe, allowing them to create the very best travel packages for each individual.
Originally relocating the shows due to outgrowing the previous venue, Debenham shared that the size of EventCity allows them to fit in as much exciting and new content as possible for the four-day exhibition.
“For The Caravan & Motorhome Show, it was all about the space – EventCity is so versatile and offers 28,000 square metres of space, we use up every bit possible for the shows. In terms of The Destinations Show, part of the reasoning behind the move was the huge expansion of Manchester Airport, opening up a large number of different routes to go all over the globe. Outside of London, Manchester Airport is the largest in terms of traffic and number of people – which shows a real interest in travel and makes sense for the travel and holiday show to be here.
“Both shows have now become so big, that we’ve got to the point where we’re at maximum capacity, so instead of bringing more content to the show, we have to refresh content. My team and I spend a lot of time researching, meeting dealers and manufacturers, reviewing the new products and ensuring they’re exciting enough to bring people to the show.”
Working closely with the EventCity team to ensure the shows run smoothly – Debenham describes the venue is great to work with in terms of getting the facilities perfect for the exhibition.
“The team have allowed us to make requests and advise them on a few things, which they have quickly and efficiently turned around for us”, he explains. “For example – if we’ve needed more parking facilities, they’ve made it happen. They take both our needs and feedback on board; they’re really flexible which is great.
“The flexibility of the venue is a big selling point for us. Initially, trying to get some of the bigger motorhomes in was a challenge, but the team at EventCity helped us by extending the entry door, so the vehicles could simply drive in. They built it to the maximum size possible, allowing for a much simpler process. They’re really accommodating and have helped to facilitate our vision.”
Talking through the venue’s perks, Debenham says the benefit of free parking for visitors is really appealing, in comparison to other venues with strict policies making it a little difficult to host an event.
Running two large exhibitions and manoeuvring vehicles on the show floor is not without its logistical issues. Debenham explains: “Having vehicles on the show floor can be a nightmare; to bring motorhomes to the show, some are driven here – which means they get dirty. We have bays at the back to give them a good clean and spruce them back up before bringing them inside to put them on show.
“Now, with the larger doors, it’s much easier to get them inside the venue. The show is then built around them – some holiday homes have verandas and additional qualities that need to be built on site, which is a real piece of work in itself.”
Explaining that the audience for both is quite similar, Debenham said: “The audience that the shows attract is of great importance and is remarkably similar, late 50s / early 60s, who are adventurous with an interest in travel. We are, however, seeing an increase in interest from younger people, as caravans are now designed to be more of an activity vehicle.
“A huge number of visitors that come to The Caravan & Motorhome Show are from within a 60-mile radius too, so it is really local people that attend. It is targeted at a local audience. We also try to match the audience with local dealers, as there are a lot within the drive time of Manchester – this allows customers to really make the most of the after-sale service.”
The shows have seen significant growth over the years and are both now established as one of the best in their respective industries. Speaking of the changes in recent years, Debenham said: “Both shows have seen a number of developments - in terms of The Caravan & Motorhome Show, the rise in popularity for caravans has certainly grown. It’s a market that is really burgeoning and has been moving upwards for a while, the variety of them, along with smaller caravans, is very impressive compared to five years ago.
“For The Destinations Show, specially tailored and bespoke trips are on the rise; visitors can sit down with a consultant at the show who can plan their whole trip from start to finish, inclusive of all meals and activities – making it entirely unique. This has become increasingly popular over the years.”
With both shows now wrapped for 2019 and proving a success, Debenham adds: “Our exhibitors have all been really pleased with visitor numbers; there has even been a slight element of surprise around the numbers holding up so well; we all know it’s an extraordinary time with regards to Brexit. Exhibitors have been genuinely pleased to see so many people visiting the shows regardless. One particular dealer informed me they sold 19 caravans on the very first day – which is just fantastic.”
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