2012年11月11日 星期日

Exhibitors, Bicker Over Venue, Patronage

PARTICIPANTS at the 2012 Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) holding at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) must have started dismantling their tents by now as the curtain draws on the yearly event today. Soon, in their homes or offices, they will be evaluating the success or otherwise of their involvement in the yearly event.

For some, the assessment has begun. Unfortunately, the yardsticks for measuring the success, or otherwise, of participation have changed. Exhibitors are no longer satisfied with mere showcasing of goods and services to break ground for future sales; they want to sell; and this seems to be the most compelling reason for participating in the exhibition.

Except X-pression, manufacturer of hair extension products, every company that was present at the Fair was eager to exchange goods or service for money. Attendants at the X-pression’s stand, who silently grumbled over how much their competitors were taking advantage of their somewhat ‘passive’ position, said they were only instructed to exhibit their new products, as they directed visitors to the company’s major distributors at the Balogun Market.

At trade exhibitions, it is common practice for company representatives to open visitor registers. The booklets, detailing demography and other bio-data of visitors, help top marketing personnel keep track of how receptive the public is to the products or services they offer. But at the Fair, where sale instinct seems to overshadow other behaviours, not many corporate entities kept the essential registers.

Perhaps, the focus of Mrs. Ama Kukua, who left Ghana for the fair on November 1, was on making huge sales; hence, she was disappointed when, seven days into the commercial event,Manufactures flexible plastic and synthetic rubber hose tubing, what she could get were mere promises of future call rather than real transactions.

Kukua, who exhibited craftworks, said in frustration: “I come from Ghana; I sleep here because hotel accommodation is too expensive. I should be able to make sales to compensate for the cost I incur, but nobody is buying. They only come around; some will offer N500 for item worth N5000. Even the whites are doing the same. Those, who seriously want to buy, keep saying they will come back. I have to leave tomorrow to meet my children since there is no market.We are pleased to offer the following list of professional mold maker and casters.”

The elderly woman could not compare TBS and the Trade Fair Complex in terms of prospects because it was her first participation.

“It is the first time I am here; so I don’t know the permanent site. Though my colleagues have come. But there have been no serious transactions since I come. I don’t see things getting better, because we have only three days to go,” the artwork merchant declared.

She also observed that a situation where a visitor pays a gate fee of N200 each time he wants to enter the fair ground was not in the interest of exhibitors. Kukua suggested that N50 should have been more realistic “if they really want to encourage more people to visit.”

When its organiser, the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), announced plan to relocate the event from its traditional location along Badagry Expressway, the excuse was that the decision would prevent the bitter traffic situation exhibitors and visitors experienced in previous years.

But Yussuf Abubakar, a marketing officer with Tower Aluminum Nigeria Plc, said the change has not done any good. He observed that the new venue has negative impact on turnout.

Abubakar, who seemed to capture the opinion of many exhibitors, observed: “There is no market. And I think publicity about the change of venue was not good enough. An average Nigeria would go to the Trade Fair Ground to buy; whereas,The oreck XL professional air purifier, TBS is in the Island, where many people dread coming to because of traffic.

“On why he was not satisfied with the advertising opportunity, he said: “Sale naturally comes when crowd troop into the fair ground. The visitors are also very few. You can confirm this,We recently added Stained glass mosaic Tile to our inventory. from the number of people at the gates. We have a bigger stand this year yet our sales have declined.”

Complaining about the increase in the cost of exhibiting, the sales executive said his company acquired land with N1.5 million while another N5 million was expended on stand construction.

According to him, the same size of land would cost between N900,000 and N1 million at the old location.

Notwithstanding the complaints, he commended the organisers for the tight security measure put in place at TBS just as he acknowledged that infrastructure especially power is better than what obtained in previous editions.

Six out of every 10 exhibitors and visitors said security arrangement around TBS is better than that of the permanent site while the other 40 per cent said there had never be any threat at the Lagos-Badagry Expressway venue. Few individuals observed that nothing short of the arrangement should have been expected at a time the country has come under the siege of Boko Haram insurgency.

A handful of exhibitors said they make better sales this year. A Ghanaian soap exhibitor, Joy Uche, said the accessibility of TBS offers better prospects than the other location.

“I believe here has better exposure. I get more visitors and sell more than past years when the event was held at the Trade Fair Complex. I really don’t think the relocation affects participation,” noted Miss Uche, who incidentally owns a permanent shop at the old fair ground.

Explaining the motive behind the change of venue and what the organisers have done to make the event a success, Director General of the LCCI, Muda Yusuf, said business activities are not affected.

On the exact fee charged per square metre, Yusuf said: “I can’t give you figures as here and now. We have prospectus where all the fees are contained. But you should also be careful the way you use figures. The reason I am saying that is because we also paid for the venue. We paid much to rent the place; we also paid to hire tents and generators. Imagine how much you need to run 500kva, from 6am to 8pm. We use generators always, especially where we put tents.

“We hire the tents at very high price. Those who build their tents only paid for the ground while those under the tents paid more. Whichever decision you take, you have to incur extra cost. The cost of logistics is very huge, and we have to build it into the charges.”

According to Yusuf, many exhibitors expressed preference for TBS because of its accessibility. He, however, said the event would be moved to its permanent site when the traffic situation on the axis improves.

Earlier, Vice-President and Chairman, Trade Promotion Board of LCCI, Mr. Babatunde Ruwase, said the relocation was informed by the need to serve exhibitors and visitors better given their experience last year.

According to him,Find detailed product information for Low price howo tipper truck and other products. the two major road construction and rehabilitation projects on the Oshodi-Apapa expressway and the Lagos-Badagry expressway created severe traffic challenges for exhibitors and visitors last year.