Launching an event can be a daunting task, but can be extremely rewarding - if it is done right. 

In this Clan of Experts blog, the SEC spoke with Ocean Media Group's Group Show Manager, Clare Barker, about her experience of launching The Baby & Toddler Show, here at the SEC.

Firstly, what is the starting point for launching an event?

For our Glasgow show we actually responded to demand from our exhibitors, who wanted another show. After that - it was doing the research! The amount of research that you need to do obviously depends on your existing market knowledge. We would normally carry out regional market research – both quantitative and qualitative. You need to be sure that the idea has legs before you start exploring. From a business point of view, you’re always looking for the next step and how to expand the brand, so a lot of it stems from that, too.

What is the biggest challenge to consider?

Ensuring that you have enough buy-in from all stakeholders. It’s hard to launch in a new region, and with every launch there’s an element of risk to your brand and reputation. Launching in a well know city and working with an established venue can instil exhibitor confidence.

How do you gain the support from new and existing exhibitors?

It’s hugely important to have strong relationships with existing exhibitors, as by having those brands signed up early it enables organisers to produce a sample floorplan for potential and new exhibitors. In having well known companies signed up it gives the show a level of credibility before it’s even launched. Word of mouth can also be extremley useful depending on the industry. For example, the baby industry is relatively small so our partnership with Glasgow Pram Centre opened the door to positive – and fast - word of mouth.

How do you decide on the location to launch?

Our team has a huge range of exhibition industry experience, so they can spot gaps in the market and good opportunities. Prior to the launch of the Glasgow show, we had no presence further north than Manchester, so it was a logical location to take the next show. Being Scotland’s biggest city, there’s a big population of our audience there or within a close distance. Transport links are essential for a new destination for us, as a huge majority of our audience are new or expectant parents who need convenience! 

What role does the venue play?

The venue is incredibly important and a crucial decision when getting a launch off the ground. All venues are different and will help as much as they can, but it’s the local knowledge and expertise that make all the difference. It’s tremendously beneficial to have recommendations on media partners and hotels and advice on catering and operations so the more help from the venue, the better!

How would you sum up your experience in launching an event?

It’s a total rollercoaster – a series of highs and lows but ultimately it all came together for a massive success on site. We take a pretty flexible approach to working, putting in a lot of hard work in advance so we are prepared for whatever happens on the day.

Finally, if you were to offer one piece of advice to someone looking to launch a show, what would it be?

Ensure you’re surrounded by a dedicated and passionate team who are all working towards the same goal. You need to be able to rely upon your team so you can all share the success at the end.


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