The international trade show scene across a lot of industries is undergoing a challenging time – and the UK’s drone sector is not immune from the same forces.
Businesses are beginning to see value in other methods of securing work and platforms like LinkedIn are allowing industry leaders to network without having to travel the length and breadth of the country to do so.
However, there is nothing like meeting and doing business face-to-face and most suppliers agree that successful and engaging trade shows are healthy for any industry.
Last week, the UK drone market descended on London to attend the Commercial UAV Show (CUAV) at the ExCeL.
Now in its third year, the event is the only dedicated cross-platform show for professional drone users in the country.
Visitors that Commercial Drone Professional spoke to picked up on the fact that the size of the show had decreased from last year, while several claimed that drone users are now turning their back on UK shows in favour of international exhibitions.
Of course, this doesn’t benefit anybody. Visitors want to see the biggest brands and most exciting opportunities, and suppliers want to seek out big business contracts and potentially lucrative conversations.
That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of positives.
Putting names to faces and catching up with those all-important LinkedIn contacts was of course a massive benefit, and a chance to network that is needed at least annually, if not more frequently, is always welcomed.
Does this outweigh the negatives though? That remains to be seen.
Looking at reaction on social media following the show, many felt the atmosphere had been caused by the show’s general agenda, with little focus on the plethora of market verticals for drone operators and professionals.
A solution often suggested online and while chatting to others about where to go from here could be a show which is sectioned off into different markets like surveying, mapping and delivery etc.
This would allow attendees to focus their time at the event while exhibitors would be visited by people relevant to their offering with something to give, rather than people with just a vague interest in what they do and what they have to offer.
Internationally, the Commercial UAV Expo in Europe seemed to have the same problem earlier this year, which could be why it has decided to co-locate with Amsterdam Drone Week in December.
We won’t be able to decide how that move has worked out though until next year.
Reports from AirWorks 2019 attendees at the small exhibition space there had the same to say about InterDrone in the US, but, the Commercial UAV Show Americas in Vegas seems to be an international powerhouse for the industry.
It was this show which attracted some of the big names across the pond and away from exhibiting in London.
This means the CUAV Show has to evolve.
To continue to attract the biggest names and most relevant players in the market, the show needs to focus in on the commercial applications of drone and what others in the sector can do to help amplify, increase and expand that work.
If not, those who once were loyal attendees of the CUAV Show will begin to attend industry-specific shows in the UK like GeoBusiness instead.
Having it at a more central location could also help drive up interest in making it easier for people from across the whole of the UK to get to the venue.
When you consider the burgeoning growth of the drone market, it would be a sad state of affairs if the industry’s national show was to wane.