Destination Digital

It’s Either A Virtual Show Or A No-Show In The First Half Of 2021

One industry that’s been impacted hugely is the trade and consumer shows circuit. Every year we are usually booked out to attend RHS Chelsea Flower Show, RHS Hampton Court, RHS Chatsworth, The Good Food Show at the NEC and Gardeners World Live.

COVID-19 knocked these all on the head in 2020 though and it must be said that life is a lot quieter now, which from a mental health point of view isn’t unwelcome as a respite from trying to juggle a work-life balance and attendance at a national shows circuit. However, a great number of businesses rely on the show circuit for one of their main revenue streams.  And it also has to be said that a great number of shows have found the strain of their hiatus too much, where shows like RHS Chatsworth have now been cancelled permanently.

Our client HECK attends the most shows of any of the businesses we know, ordinarily booking themselves into hundreds of fairs and food shows over the year. This brings them a revenue stream and indeed the food fair shows circuit was a valuable source of cash for the company in its formative years. But now they rely far less on the shows to make them money, ongoing it’s a useful testing ground for trying out new products that haven’t made it into mainstream distribution yet. Shows are also a great way of getting to hear feedback from customers face-to-face. There is a huge value in this activity alone.

Client Curiousa & Curiousa are in the interior design space, and one of the biggest shows in their season is Decorex International, held in the autumn each year. The physical return of the show is scheduled for 10-13 October 2021, and it is *the place* to be seen if you are in luxury interior design in any capacity. Potential clients and journalists come from all over the world to pick up new trends at the show, and it’s a great place to pick up new commissions.

Clients Darlac, Mr Fothergill’s and Griffin Glasshouses usually work the flower show circuit each year with a heavy consumer show focus, but also a few trade shows thrown into the mix too.  Darlac attends many, many dozens of shows through the year, whereas Mr Fothergill’s and Griffin Glasshouses are a little more selective in the shows they choose to put a stand on, choosing to attend just a handful each.

It cannot be denied that the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of the pinnacles of the gardening show circuit every year. In 2021 the show organisers have chosen to move the physical show to September, rather than its usual slot in May. This will open up the scope for the show garden designs in ways that the month of May can never deliver on, and we are looking forward to seeing what garden designers come up with as a response at this crème-de-la-crème show at the opposite end of its usual season.

As a means of filling in the gap, virtual shows have been established. Decorex and RHS Chelsea ran virtual shows in 2020, and it must be said it was not a patch on experiencing the real thing. Earlier this month Curiousa & Curiousa attended the Virtual Design Fair and Mr Fothergill’s attended the Virtual Garden Press Event, whilst next month Griffin Glasshouses are taking part in the Virtual Flower Show organised by Dibleys.

Whilst we think it’s great that so many organisations have put together virtual shows to fill a much-needed gap to keep the rhythms of these business eco-systems rolling forwards, we can’t wait to see the return of real shows around the country.  It will feel like we have pulled off the dust sheets as we get ready to plunge back in to all the chaos, noise and fun of the jamboree that only a live show can bring!


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