You know how an exhibition has gone just by being out on the show floor. At W14, it was obvious that the exhibitors had confidence in their industry and the event – the halls were full of bold stands bulging with high profile brands.

But, what about that most important content of the exhibition … the visitors?

The number of visitors at a major national event like W14 can be taken as read. It is, however, much more important to look where the visitors are at any given moment. Packed aisles, so often seen as a badge of a ‘good’ exhibition are not necessarily a good sign. What we want to see is visitors on exhibitor stands, engaged with the demonstrations and doing business. That was exactly what we could all see at W14.

Exhibitors also realise this. One of our major exhibitors told me some time ago that success at an exhibition involved all of their sales people engaged with potential new customers throughout the exhibition. Again, that is what we saw at W14.

More so than any other form of media, the success or otherwise of a live event is shown right there in front of you – which is really exciting when an event goes as well as W14 did.

For anyone who missed W14 there is enough independent comment in this issue of FJP, and across the wider trade press, to convince people to make a date with the 2016 show. Certainly exhibitor re-booking enquiries already suggest we’ll need to grow space again at the NEC – and that means a truly massive W16 show.

As organisers, we must recognise that development of a show stretches to issues beyond pure size, however important though that is.

Constant investment is required to grow the value for visitors, which in turn drives the influence of the show. In practical terms that means we will be looking to further links with other shows, trade bodies and media which can help the event realise its expanded potential. Immediately, more new big brands are set to join us as exhibitors at W16, but that is just the start.

W14 underlined the show for our sector as one of the major UK manufacturing exhibitions. W16 is set to bring new ways for exhibitor and visitor alike to influence an awakening market. Watch for our bulletins on the next stage of growth for the UK’s sector event. You’ll want to be a part of it!