A review of the 2007 show from a UKCampsite.co.uk member:
We visited the show on Saturday 24th February and having
arrived at 9:30am were surprised how empty the majority of the car parks
Having last visited this show two years ago, it was evident that there were
fewer people in attendance and this was confirmed when we reached the main
entrance 15 minutes prior to the gates opening and were right near the front
of the small queue in the main entrance to Hall 5.
The next 5-10 minutes saw more people arriving and the NEC staff requested
the latest arrivals to go up the stairs towards Hall 4 to ease some minor
congestion! Why they did this remains a mystery as the people who did make
their way up the stairs thinking they could gain entrance through Hall 4
were then turned around at the top, at which point the NEC staff taped off
the staircase to form another queue, only to have everyone go back down the
stairs when the show eventually opened!
The show itself had the usual selection of manufacturers & suppliers but
compared to the show two years ago, most of the stands seemed smaller &
disjointed. We don't know if this was due to having more exhibitors or the
possibility that there are more shows being held throughout the year,
resulting in the exhibitors taking smaller stand space due to the costs
involved. We suspect the later was a more realistic assumption.
The crowds did seem to pick up during the first three hours of the show but
tailed off significantly after lunch. From a personal point of view it was
far more comfortable getting around with less people but I'm sure the
exhibitors would not agree, as many of them were left on open stands &
talking amongst themselves for the later part of the afternoon!
Our suspicions regarding the poor attendance were later as good as confirmed
when speaking to an exhibitor from Salop Leisure who said that the show
attendance was 40% down on last year and it had been a very dissapointing
show as far as sales were concerned. He felt that having shows so close
together (referring to the one held back in October) was a major cause of
this disastrous statistic.
Not good news at all for the exhibitors who spend so much money supporting
these events & not good news for a major venue like the NEC, who will
obviously be taking a very close look at why the show failed to have the
support of the public.
Our own opinion is that there are just too many shows held during the year
and the market just cannot sustain such a high volume. Yes, the popularity
in the great ourdoors has increased but with the ever increasing costs of
living, the market now seems to have reached saturation. This must be
worrying for the smaller manufacturers & suppliers on many fronts as they
also have to compete with cheaper imports from abroad. Based on our
observations at the show, I fear some may struggle to survive over the next
Back to the show and Bailey of Bristol seemed to have the largest caravan
stand compared to their competitors, but the layout seemed far too tight as
they had vans far too close together. Our winner of the worst dressed staff
has to go to the company (we are not sure who they were but someone out
there will know) that had the men wearing beige patterned jackets,
absolutely awful... we couldn't even bear to go on the stand for risk of
The kids were dissapointed that there were not more activivites to keep them
occupied, even the 'canoe villiage' where youngsters could try out this
sport, had seen a pool a third of the size from the last time we visited.
Add to this the fact that there were no archery introductions etc. We felt
that as the show is promoted as a family event, the shows organisors could
definately do with having a play area & more specialist activities for the
kids to get them interested in ourdoor pursuits and away from the computer
The accessory shops offered a good range of items and overall it was good to
see that many of them had greater space between the shelves, better for
disabled visitors and shoppers in general. Our favourite accessory shop was
Towsure & we got a bargain with a caravan cover we had been after for some
time. Only critisism would be that they had no string available in which to
make a carrying handle for such a large awkward box. The amount of people
walking around fully laden with weird shaped goods was a sight to behold.
The static homes section had a good range of units available, our favourite
being the Atlas Caravans 'Concept 2' which had a price tag in excess of
£40,000. The separate glass partioned dining room was modern and exceptional
in design. We had never really considered having a static at some point in
our lives, but the lastest designs have certainly made us interested in the
The luxury boats area was well laid out and although they are only dreams
for the majority of visitors, it is good to see how those with rich pockets
may spend their day on the ocean. The Sunseeker '47 Portofino' was the
highlight here although all the cruisers were splendid.
Although motorhomes are not really our thing, it was noticeable how popular
this is, not just with retired people, but families now seem to be chosing
this method of outdoor activity. The motorhome area had a vast amount of
choice and we were really surprised as to how much floor space the motorhome
section had at the show.
The 'Holiday & Tourism' area didn't seem very large and from the
companies who had stands, the overseas camping sites were head &
shoulders above those from the UK, both in presentation, cataloges &
friendliness of the staff. The Spanish Tourist Office was our favourite,
while Les Castels also offered a good selection of information.
Overall we felt that the show was clearly not as good as two years
ago, both in floor & stand planning as well as the choice of companies
Hopefully the organisors will listen to the feedback both from the
exhibitors & the public and move away from the rather predictable &
stale feel the show offers. If the event is to survive, it needs to
attact many more visitors and avoid the mish mash of the current layout.
Each main area of Products & Services needs to be clearly defined, at
present I don't think the show knows what it's market is or what the
paying public wish to see. One idea I have would be to have a vastly
reduced two-day ticket on offer, that way the public have the chance to
see more of the show and the exhibitors are likely to see more orders &
income. The exhibitors in turn have to realise that qaulity over
qauntity is what the a show is all about & avoid packing their stands to
capacity. They also need to motivate their staff more to become more
customer friendly, many seemed to be going through the motions and
treating it as just another show. Exhibitors also need to highlight how
repulsive it is to be confronted by a salesman smelling of smoke or
perspiration. We were amazed that five minutes before the show opened,
the amount of exhibition staff who were standing just outside the halls
getting in that last cigerette!
If we didn't live so local, I don't think we would make the effort to go
to a future show. The show needs a breath of fresh air or it will fade