The Resurrection of the Equine Exposition In America: Part One
In the May 21, 2018 article “The Death of the Equine Exposition In America” we explored the nature of the equine consumer exposition, how they impact the equine industry and what their demise would mean for the equine community as a whole. In this series, we will look at the overall “resurrection” of the equine consumer exposition and explore what it truly takes to create these beneficial experiences for the equine community.
EXPOS ARE NOT HORSE SHOWS
The word “exposition” is usually defined as “a large-scale public exhibition or show, as of art or manufactured products.” In the case of equine consumer expositions this usually encompasses a large variety of activities such as horsemanship demonstrations, product demonstrations, lectures, competitions, breed demonstrations, shopping, entertainment, food, and even art shows. These events are often multiple day affairs and have a broad spectrum appeal. Horse shows are all about competition. Riders and their support teams arrive, compete and depart. Shopping is minimal and the educational aspect, outside of gaining general experience in competing, is all but non-existent.
The level of work and planning it takes to bring an equine consumer exposition to life is quite astounding, and often quite expensive. We will look at the planning of expositions in another segment. Now let us talk about MONEY.
IT TAKES MONEY
When we think of “horse expos” we usually think of the world-class events like The Mane Event, Equine Affair and the Western States Horse Expo. These events often spend hundreds of thousands (yes, you read that correctly) to create the experiences we all enjoy.
Yes, it costs REAL money to create, market and put on an event. The larger the event the more money it costs to put on. Think about that for a second. EVERYTHING you see and do not see (or even think about) at your favorite exposition costs money. If there are big name Clinicians in the arena, it costs money. If there is toilet paper in the bathrooms, it costs money. Keeping the trash cans empty costs money. The climate controlled building or even the covered arena you enjoy costs money. The “entertainment” you enjoy costs money. That monitored parking area, which keeps your car safe, costs money too. Heck, oftentimes the dirt in the arena and the arena itself costs money! All these expenses have to be accounted for BEFORE the first Attendee comes through the gate. This means that thousands of dollars has to be paid out up front before Attendees ever grace the exposition gates with their ticket purchase. The exposition and event management companies, who are committed to the equine and rural lifestyle industry and community, do everything they can to keep costs low and attendance numbers high. They offer the best deals they can to Exhibitors of all sizes to come show off their goods, they get as creative as they can to provide great attractions and activities that Attendees will find value in. They negotiate has hard as they can to keep parking and facility costs as low as they can. The margins these event companies work in are often very slim and a very delicate balance of a cost-to-value ratio is maintained.
Still, some thing are outside the event management company’s control…like the economy taking a nose dive, gas and travel costs going up, crazy tax laws and regulations that make it hard to sell or do business in other areas, businesses failing or “ageing out” or the fact that facilities keep raising their rental fees without offering other benefits to offset the costs. The simple fact is this: Shows and expositions are a business. They work hard to create amazing experiences for everyone. Yet, they still need to cover expenses. They are not charity organizations made of money. Everything they have to do costs them money –large sums of money –before the first Attendee ticket is purchased or the first Exhibitor booth space is sold. These expenses have to be covered somehow.
If the event was a magazine, then the Exhibitors at the event are like the Advertisers. Their ads pay for the printing and production of that single issue of the magazine. Attendees are like the subscribers to that magazine. Their subscription supports the publication of future issues. Think about that for just a second and look at the balance that has to be maintained. If one area fails, the magazine itself fails and goes out of print. So when you read on social media somewhere, someone saying “ABC exposition is charging too much for their booth space” you have to ask “what did you Ms. Consumer, pay to get in?” and “what benefits and experiences did you enjoy Mr. Consumer?” before blaming the event company and calling them “greedy.” If the event/exposition company gives Exhibitor space away for free then ticket prices need to go up drastically. If tickets are free then the Exhibitor spaces have to go up in cost. Welcome to Basic Business Economics 101. It is a trade-off. Everyone pays something in order to be fair, and to help make the event a reality.
THE FUTURE OF EXPOSITIONS
So what can these companies do to revitalize their events? They can downsize their events, look for more cost effective venues (California is REALLY expensive to do anything in as we all know), move their events out of the area (or out of state) and do what they have to do to shake up the experiences and break the “same old event” sentiment heled by Attendees. What this means tot the community is that the “mega event” everyone love goes away, and something more “grass roots” takes its place. How would that make you feel? It would means less of the “bells and whistles” you have come to expect at your event. Fewer of EVERYTHING. Think about it. Yet, without the support of the industry and community, that is exactly what will happen.
In our next segment, we will explore the life-cycle of the equine consumer exposition. You may be surprised at all that truly happens before the first ticket is sold and the first booth space reserved.
Thanks for reading!
The Death of the Equine Exposition In America, May 2018, M. Canfield, https://www.ofhorse.com/view-post/The-Death-of-Equine-Expositions-in-America
The Formula for Success: Exhibiting At Expositions, June 2018, M. Canfield, https://www.ofhorse.com/view-post/The-Formula-for-Success-Exhibiting-at-Expositions