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6 May 2009

PLASA Focus: Leeds 2009 - new event beats all expectations

The inaugural PLASA Focus Show in Leeds on April 28-29 beat the headiest expectations and the credit crunch as exhibitors reached for superlatives to describe both the turnout and the organisation.

With the show floors in both the Saviles Hall and the Royal Armouries Hall virtually sold out, anticipation had been high since PLASA Events announced its takeover of the show from AC Entertainment Technologies last year.

The team had set out to continue the show's compact, user-friendly format while opening it up to the entire industry, broadening the marketing and creating new networking opportunities.

A new, expanded seminar programme was among the key highlights, with the Royal Armouries Theatre well-filled with visitors from the opening seminar which explored the BBC's new Media City in Salford to the final session on theatre sound design, with sessions on the Use of Tallescopes, PPE for Working at Height, BS 8901 and Freelancing in the Industry drawing some of the largest numbers.

And the exhibitor party in a large sports bar on the first night proved a big hit and a great opportunity to relax and network.

By the time 1,398 visitors (pre ABC audit) had been registered for the show, and delighted exhibitors declared their intention to return in 2010, the buzz was of success all around.

Philip Norfolk of MA Lighting, which showed its new MA2 control surfaces, commented: "We've seen an excellent mix of students as well as serious clients, users and operators - a really broad spectrum of visitors. There have been good visitor numbers, high levels of interest, an excellent environment and the time to spend with people. For anyone that's exhibited in Leeds before it's an expected mix, but it has altered for the better by being part of PLASA; it's a forward movement for the show and I'm very happy with that. We'll be returning - this is a show that's definitely on the map, both for its visitor quality, for its commercial success and for the excellent atmosphere that's been created."

The broad spread of visitors from across the entertainment production world was a theme for many, including Hoist UK's Paul Jordan, on the company's first appearance in Leeds. "There's been a lot of interest in our products, so it's been really good for us. The show's very well attended and people find it great now that there is a wide variety of manufacturers. It's really becoming a very representative show for the entire industry, especially in the northern area of the UK."

"Visitors have come from both theatre and the rock and roll industry - a good, wide spectrum of people. We've seen a lot of students as well, which is also good because we want to meet the people who are going to be in the industry in the coming years. So it's excellent all round. We expect to do it again next year but we might need a bigger stand!"

Tim Chapman of Lab Gruppen, also on the company's first time at the show, and sharing a stand with Peavey, commented: "Both of us are looking at doing it year after year. The amazing thing to me is the first three people I met at the show this morning were customers of ours who I'd never had the opportunity of meeting before. A regional show like this means you uncover more of your regional end users. So we're very pleased."

Clay Paky's Ashley Lewis, previewing the new Alpha 700 Series, said: "We knew this show was going to be good - quite a number of us had spoken about it and we were all correct. As soon as the doors were open it was busy; it's been full-on all day and we've seen quality people, mostly from the north but visitors from Scotland as well. We'll be doing the show again and will strongly support this event."

Erik Larsen of ETC - which held the European launch of its Element desk at the show - added: "Now it's hosted by PLASA there are more dealers exhibiting here, which is a benefit for the end users. We're very happy with the way it's gone."

Matthew Griffiths, PLASA CEO, said: "I'm thrilled that we've managed to establish PLASA Focus as a complementary event to the PLASA show in London. All our objectives of developing a regional event with relevant content through the seminars, and being able to access all types of people in the industry from students through to practitioners, from local designers through to local businesses, have been met. And we've been able to do it in an inexpensive format, in a very friendly environment.

"It's also allowed us to try ideas that we've always wanted to such as the visitor catering, the exhibitor party and various other touches. We've been able to spend time with exhibitors, to get a closer understanding of what they want to get out of an event like this, and how we can maximise opportunities for them."

Nicola Rowland, of PLASA Events, added: "PLASA Events was established to provide different types of events for the industry generating new business opportunities. We've reached out to people that don't normally come to the London show - which was precisely the intention. 70% of those who pre-registered said they would not normally attend the London show, and that has translated into actual visitors at Focus.

"The success has convinced us that the format, whether it's applied by sector or by region, is fully capable of being extended and an ideal way of providing a reasonably low-cost way of exhibiting to new customers.

"PLASA Focus will not become a large-format show, and nor will any other PLASA Focus events. This will always be a low-cost, fixed stand space, highly sociable, seminar-driven event. The one thing that we absolutely guarantee is that the professional manner in which the show is presented will be what people expect of a PLASA event."

Adds Matthew Griffiths: "It also ties in with PLASA's willingness to get involved with other trade bodies and collaborate for the industry's benefit, such as the recent announcement with ABTT regarding training and qualifications, and in taking the lead on BS8901 for the industry. Other organisations are coming alongside us and we're all beginning to work together, which is exactly what the industry needs."

PLASA Focus: Leeds returns to the Royal Armouries in April 2010, where expectations are already strong for another successful event.

www.plasafocus.com

Notes to Editors:

PLASA is the lead professional body for businesses that supply technologies and services to the event, entertainment and installation industries. Operating from offices in Europe and North America, the Association provides business support services to its growing worldwide membership, writes industry standards, leads the development of qualifications and focuses on improving the business practices adopted by the industry. With over 1100 members worldwide, it represents one of the largest member networks in the industry.

PLASA also runs successful media and events divisions and is responsible for the industry-leading magazines Lighting&Sound International, Lighting&Sound America and Protocol and the PLASA Show in London, together with the European and North American regional PLASA Focus events.

www.plasa.org