In just its fourth show, Upper Street Events’ Gadget Show Live has morphed into one of the UK’s biggest consumer tech events. EN tracks how the brand is plugged into market trends.
Look back at predictions for the must-have gadget items of 2009 and you’ll find many that have been embraced by the mainstream today. Making their debuts about 36 months ago were the Wii Motion Plus, Windows 7, the iPhone 3GS, the Android phone and the wireless Apple mouse.
In a similar fashion and over the same timeframe, Gadget Show Live has gone from strength to strength, more than trebling its visitor numbers in its first three editions.
Turn the clock back to its first outing at The NEC in 2009, and 30,646 visitors and 154 exhibitors promoted the latest in computing, photography, mobile communications, gaming, home entertainment and in-car technology.
As EN went to press, final visitor numbers for 2012 had not been revealed, but organiser Upper Street Events was expecting well in excess of the 104,759 attendees who came to the 2011 show. Last year’s figures were a considerable increase from the 66,114 visitors in 2010.
This year’s event ran from 11 to 15 April. Show director Matt Hodgins said the consumer event, launched off the back of a successful TV programme on Channel Five, has developed significantly in its relatively short lifespan.
Hodgins, who is currently walking 300 miles from The NEC to Excel London to raise money for leukaemia and lymphoma research, took time out from resting his aching feet to answer a few questions on the history of the show.
“This was our fourth year and we have grown from 30,000 visitors and two halls to 100,000 people across seven with stacks of new interactive features,” he said. “Gadget Show Live 2012 really has raised the bar as the biggest consumer tech show in the UK. Clearly the public still love their gadgets, now more than ever, despite the economic climate.”
Hodgins said the show had 270 exhibitors, up from 256 in 2011. He believes it again topped the 100,000 mark this year, boosted by an extra 2,000 seats in the Super Theatre, which had a 6,500 capacity for every performance.
The Super Theatre saw presenters Suzi Perry, Jason Bradbury, Jon Bentley, Ortis Deley and Pollyanna Woodward deliver an hour-long show three times a day featuring presenter challenges, stunts, mass participation activities and opportunities for the audience to win prizes.
Hodgins explained many of the show’s new features were aimed to give visitors more of a feeling of being part of the TV programme. These included presenting with an autocue to taking on highwire and zip-wire challenges. “The addition of a new zones including one for musical instruments has also broadened the appeal of the show,” he said.
Last year saw the launch of The Gadget Show Live Professional, which gave trade buyers the opportunity to test the latest tech products and services.
“The GSL Professional was developed to provide a UK platform for exhibitors to launch products, only previously seen at shows like CES in the US, giving many visitors the chance to see products first hand for the first time,” said Hodgins. “It aimed to attract an audience of electronics retailers, as well as those responsible for procurement of any form of technology or gadgetry for use in their business or organisation.”
Last year also saw the introduction of the HUB Theatre. “Visitors had the chance to take part in free seminars and presentations dealing with everything from new products for retail through to future technology that will revolutionise our lives over the next ten years,” said Hodgins.
This year’s HUB Theatre hosted pop star 50 Cent, who attended Gadget Show Live to launch his SMS Audio headphones. Looking ahead to 2013, the show director said the event is operating from a position of strength, with a large audience that spends a long time onsite and a significant amount of money on products.
“We will look to concentrate on delivering a better experience every year, constantly improving the quality and diversity of products launched in the UK,” Hodgins said.
Neuro-technology products such as latex clothing that lights up and undresses you according to your level of concentration, a 3D racing simulator, and a £1,899 battery powered one-wheel vehicle that can reach speeds of up to 12mph by the driver leaning forward to accelerate, were some of the more eye-catching products on display.
“The show combines a huge variety of tech and gadgetry for everyone – not just those ultra enthusiasts, but everyone with a bit of interest in the latest gadgets to improve their lives,” said Hodgins.
“We’re aiming to expand the show even further for 2013, while remaining true to keeping it the best place to see, try, and buy the best technology of today and tomorrow.”
One doesn’t need a hi-tech gizmo to work out that the show will deliver on this prediction.
This was first published in the May edition of Exhibition News. Any comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org