A waste of time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 12:00am

I refer to the Trade Development Council's plan to hold another trade show for toys, gifts and household products from next summer.

Do we need another trade show when there are already three that have served buyers for 10 years?

The TDC itself already runs two mega-sized gifts, premium and houseware product shows in April, while in October, Kenfair International hosts a combined toys & gifts and Asian gifts, premium & household products show. These shows perfectly match the buying seasons for Hong Kong and Asia-made products.

So why another show in the buyers' off-season? It began with the Sars outbreak that compelled the TDC to downsize its April fairs because most buyers cancelled trips to Hong Kong. The TDC then held a supplementary fair in July. The April fairs received 13,335 visitors, the July fair 62,365. The TDC concluded that the supplementary fair's results were so good that from next year the July show would be a permanent fixture.

Will buyers attend three shows a year? In a normal year, July is not appropriate as it is the industry's off-season; most international buyers are on vacation. More to the point, July is too late to make Christmas orders and too early to place orders for next year's summer sales. Also with three same-theme shows in six months, the overlapping will reduce their appeal to all buyers. It will also 'over-kill' the market by causing unnecessary confusion to our important global buyers.

Also, the TDC overstated the high participation rate of exhibitors. Most of the 3,800 exhibitors in July had no choice but to take part to compensate for their losses in April. If the exhibitors had quit both events in April and July, they would lose their booth reservations for next year's April fairs as per the coercive booking process.

The TDC's argument of 'good buyer attendance' from having an extra fair is also doubtful. Among the 62,365 visitors, only about 39 per cent were from overseas and, moreover, the number of target buyers was down with only 8.9 per cent from Europe and the US.

The extra show has disrupted the operations of manufacturers and increased the financial burden on small and medium-size firms. The TDC spent a lot promoting the show and, given the unsatisfactory results, it was not justifiable. And the lack of consultation all round was not acceptable.