Exhibition Organiser06/05/2015 14:05:58

Organising exhibitions can be a large undertaking for an event manager. Some managers work all year long to organise a single event. Exhibitions can be small or they can be massive, large-scale events. For example, you might be asked to organise a small art exhibition of local artists in a small town. Alternatively you might be asked to organise something like an exhibition at a major museum, for a major cultural festival, or something equally momentous.

The organisation and planning required for events of this size will most probably require a team of organisers and many staff. You need to be aware of how to run and manage large-scale events just as well as how to run and manage smaller events.

What is an exhibition?
An exhibition is an organised display or presentation of a selection of items.  So the Queen Of England may have an exhibition of the Crown Jewels. Fashion designers will have a display of their new fashions at London Fashion Week and so on. It is an opportunity for people to show off something to other people. 

When considering exhibitions, you also have to consider the motives behind it.

For example, fashion designers will be wanting to show off their new designs to the world, so that they will be seen in the media, on TV and by the public. BUT they also want to sell their new ranges. So they will want fashion buyers there as well, in order to highlight the new range, interest the buyers and get it into the shops. So the motives here are to gain the limelight and to sell something.

For an exhibition of the Crown Jewels, there are other motives. Firstly, the organisers may be trying to educate people, to let them see the Crown Jewels and learn the history behind them. There will also be a motive to attract tourists from both inside and outside the UK. There will also be a financial motive. People may have to pay to get into the exhibition. There may be guide books to buy, also a gift stall, so there will undoubtedly be a financial motive as well.

So when planning any exhibition, consider what the motives behind it are.

Scope of Work for Exhibition Organisers
The first, and sometimes most difficult task is to get things to exhibit.

  • Closed exhibitions are relatively easy in this respect. These are exhibitions where you are approached by an organisation that has something to exhibit, for example: a collection of artworks, being brought to your country from another country, or a collectables to be exhibited by members of a club or society.
  • Open exhibitions are ones that invite anyone relevant to exhibit. They might be a wedding or travel expo, a car show or garden show, or anything else. This type of exhibition usually seeks to attract exhibitors from industry who will pay for display stand space.

The biggest challenge for an exhibition organiser is often to generate income. 
Income may come from sponsors, from stand fees, from gate fees, and perhaps from catering income, sales of programs or other incidentals.
There must be a perceived benefit to to the people who provide income.
If stand fees are too high, there is insufficient value for exhibitors to participate; and there may be too few exhibitors to attract visitors. If gate fees are too high, visitors will be discouraged from coming.
If income is not high enough, it will be impossible to fund advertising at a level that will attract visitors.

Making an exhibition a success, depends upon many things; and being a successful exhibition organiser requires skill in financial and operations management as well as an entrepreneurial skill and a marketing flair.

This can be an exciting career path, stressful for some, but very stimulating for others. It can be risky if you don't know what you are doing; but with knowledge and a little luck, it can be very financially rewarding.