The 10,276 visits to The Safety Show Sydney, organised by Australian Exhibitions & Conferences (AEC), proved safety remains a priority for business in the face of global economic turmoil and that there is nothing quite like seeing solutions first-hand.
New South Wales' important workplace safety event, The Safety Show Sydney and Sydney Materials Handling trade shows, hosted more than 350 occupational health, safety and materials handling specialists across three and a half acres at the Sydney Showground this October.
Organiser, Marie Kinsella of Australian Exhibitions & Conferences, said visitors were increasingly keen to participate in demonstrations of safety products and services.
“People want to know how products feel, move and work as well as assessing potential suppliers," Marie Kinsella said. "Exhibitors who answer that need with great stands, engaging personalities and interactive demos are guaranteed to do well.”
The BullEx Australia fire-fighting sessions, Marie Kinsella said, were a good example of trade show marketing. Outdoor live fire demonstrations saw visitors and conference delegates “douse” real flames with ultrasonic air and water training extinguishers while indoor sessions featured a simulated digital fire with laser training extinguishers.
“It was great to see show visitors and delegates step up to fight the fires themselves. We were able to quickly and easily give these individuals the knowledge and practice to properly deal with a real incipient stage fire,” said BullEx Australia’s Chris Chester.
“Of course, we have brochures, a web site and even videos but the only way to get a real appreciation of what our product has to offer is to see it in action for yourself. Demo sessions highlight the simplicity and realism of BullEx products.
“The Safety Show Sydney was the perfect place to hold demonstrations – we reached safety decision-makers across a huge array of industries. BullEx (which won the “Best Use of Medium” award) had a very successful show and a lot of interest from the big end of town, including airlines, hospitals and mining multinationals. Our products were also featured with the Rural Fire Service on the 9 Network’s Today show as part of The Safety Show’s publicity campaign.”
Publicity also worked well for uvex safety, whose large colourful stand and ambassador, Olympic cyclist Anna Meares, captivated visitor attention.
“Whilst uvex is established as a market leader in eyewear, we are launching innovations in other PPE areas such as hearing protection, gloves, workwear and footwear,” said uvex safety Asia Pacific Marketing Director David Cross.
“A completely new stand (which won the “Best in Show” award) supported by high-impact activities such as stand visits and interviews with Anna Meares made that innovation a feature.
“Trade shows offer a unique platform to really engage with customers. Our uvex slogan is ‘experience innovation’ and trade shows offer an excellent platform for customers to touch, feel and discuss our innovative products.”
Active displays were also a feature of the concurrent Sydney Materials Handling show. ForkSafe had a boom lift in action, while huge green bags were lifted and shifted with ease by a VacuEasyLift from Kockums Bulk.
Among the other interactive events at The Safety Show and Sydney Materials Handling in 2008 were a series of free workshops from principal sponsor WorkCover NSW, demonstrations of the Australian Red Cross’s CPR on a mobile phone, a Talking First Aid Kit from Parasol EMT, check-ups by the Chiropractic Alliance and inspections by the Russell Williams posture police.
More exhibitors brought excitement to the trade show with prizes, with St John NSW awarding a defibrillator and training, while the fastest virtual slalom ace won a Nintendo Wii from Australian Health Management.
Other exhibitors with less visual products – like publisher CCH Australia, whose stand captured the senses with the smell of popcorn – took an unconventional approach to get the safety message out.
“This year we went with a stand theme ‘The Movies’," said CCH Australia's Lauren Hadenham, "which was completely different to what you would normally expect to see at a safety show."
"This theme made people stop and talk to us to find out what we were selling, which gave us the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation and introduce them to CCH Australia Ltd.
"CCH has been an exhibitor at the Sydney Safety Show for over 10 years running. The exhibition offers sponsors the opportunity to touch thousands of potential customers face-to-face over three days. We simply couldn’t reach all of those people under normal selling circumstances; it would be humanly impossible. So, for CCH, The Sydney Safety Show has always been a great prospecting activity."
The Safety Show Sydney and Sydney Materials Handling will return to Sydney Olympic Park fin 2009. Meanwhile, Victoria will host Safety In Action and Melbourne Materials Handling at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from March 31 to April 2, 2009. Asked for a prediction of numbers at the 12-year-old Melbourne event, Marie Kinsella was upbeat.
“Safety continues to grow,” she said, “and it’s recognised as non-discretionary expenditure. If you went last time, you need to come again and see what’s new in order to be sure you’re keeping up with industry standards. We’re confident it will continue to draw big crowds unheard of in other business disciplines.”