The importance of event evolution

With a 62-year history, you might have been surprised to hear the recent British Marine announcement that the London Boat Show 2019 will not be going ahead due to ‘insufficient support from the marine industry’.  Zing undertook the visitor and exhibitor evaluations that informed the decision.

The show has been an important part of the marine calendar and while it had adapted over time to some extent (e.g. it recently changed from a 10-day format to a 5-day format) audience satisfaction continued to fall and visitors and exhibitors had been voting with their feet.

London Boat Show is not alone, many traditional event brands have struggled to keep pace with ever increasing visitor expectations and so, have experienced decline as a result.  While other ‘paid activities’ continuously evolve, adapt and develop, some events have remained virtually unchanged.  The problem is, in the world of visitor experiences, consistency often equals boredom or even stagnation.

The theme park is a great example of why continued change is so important.  Each year theme parks across the globe market themselves based on their ‘new attraction’.  This gives previous visitors reasons to return (something new, different, exciting to experience) and they use their continued positive experiences and advocacy to attract new visitors.

In the world of events, the visitor experience is king.  Happy visitors recommend and return – they create acquisition opportunities and they deliver enhanced lifetime value.  Happy visitors will actively promote an experience via their social media channels.  Unhappy visitors criticise and while the same was always true, the advent of social media means they now broadcast dissatisfaction to a much larger audience.

You might be forgiven for thinking this doesn’t apply to B2B event brands but you’d be wrong.  B2B visitors are also consumers, they still have expectations and needs and now more than ever, they (and their managers) want value for their time, they need to justify attendance costs and they need to see an overall return on their investment.  It is just as important to keep B2B visitors happy, to refresh and evolve the visiting experience and to deliver newness, excitement and innovation.

If you have happy visitors and assuming your exhibitors have been sold the right show (i.e. they know who will be visiting, how many and why), the likelihood is that you’ll also have very happy exhibitors.

Just remember change is good, but show refreshment or regeneration is about more than changing the colour of your carpets or the size of your logo on your show guide.  Think big!  Visitors need to be able to perceive evolution, change, newness, innovation and excitement.

What will you change for your next event?

To find out how we can help you understand visitor needs so you can adapt, change and refresh your events to meet visitor and exhibitor expectations, please get in touch on 0844 800 9588 or email

Posted by:  Lisa Holt

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