Most business leaders are sociable, natural show-offs. Whether exhibitors or visitors, their assessment of any exhibition is based on an unquantifiable, but tangible ‘buzz’ factor. A more objective view then forms, and the criteria used make you realise how high expectations are compared to other media forms.

Visitors expect to be able to see the full span of an industry, experience its innovations and compare products displayed within yards of each other. Technical expertise should be available and the busiest stands almost always involve live demonstrations. Exhibitors expect high profile, sales on the day and for months after the event. Exhibitions able to tick that shopping list are in good health; if they can do it during quieter economic times they become quite invaluable.

For this reason Lignahas reached superstar [and, for many, must visit] status on the world stage for our sector. But, for UK SMEs a couple of days in Hannover may not be feasible. They rely on UK events to access the benefits of an exhibition. Underlining this, 98% of visitors to the NEC-based W12 exhibition for joinery and furniture makers won’t have visited Ligna.

W12, the new Timber Expo at Coventry, and the PFA forestry exhibitions are each carefully targeted to different audiences. Unlike some countries, the UK is fortunate to have quality events which complement each other. We are right to cherish them.

UK trade exhibitions battle against a higher cost base than Germany or Italy where national sector leading events are more readily and rightly understood as major contributors to regional economies. Government financial support for UK exhibitions was unheard of even before the cuts and there is a culture of free entry for visitors, and very often free parking too.

Despite the hurdles and stickier economic times, it seems our home-grown events are robust and progressive . Each should be viewed as a national asset for their audience and exhibitors. The very special benefits of face-to-face contact at a successful vibrant show will be apparent to visitors to Ligna, and should be available to others too.

? TTJ Industry Updates are a forum for trade bodies to address key issues.