Fresh off the back of the ninth instalment of PALME in Dubai, the question being asked by most seems to be whether the event still has life left in it.
The trade event for event production and AV installation in the Middle East has certainly shrunk over the years and now covers just one hall – including partner expo’s Install and Musac – at Dubai’s Exhibition and Convention Centre.
As we go to press, official figures are not yet available on actual foot-fall, although unofficial reports suggest that visitor levels on day one were 40 per cent up on 2010.
That show, however, was hit by the travel chaos that ensued following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, so perhaps this doesn’t paint an accurate picture of growth - or contraction - in show attendance.
As with all events of a similar nature, attendance figures are only one factor in assessing their success, after all.
Return on investment is key and at the 2011 show, quality over quantity seemed to be the catch-phrase used by many - as one exhibitor succinctly put it: “It’s no use having 1,000 visitors to your stand if no one is going to place an order.”
And he’s got a point. Orders were placed, deals were made, and partnerships were formed - which are the ultimate aims of the event. Plus, at the end of the day, it’s not just about full order books (although that’s always a nice outcome).
For many, the show is about catching up with face-to-face clients, colleagues and partners – a rarity in what has been one of the busiest and longest event seasons the region has seen in years.
So can the show be labelled a success? My verdict: it’s too early to tell. This month and even next will prove vital in seeing if leads from PALME convert into Dollars (or Dirhams, or Riyals... ) and if so, only then can we be sure that the tenth anniversary of the show in 2012 will be bigger and better than ever.