Archive for July, 2011

UK Baby Shows is on the move

Liz WestonJo Waltham and Liz Weston are delighted to announce that Weston Communications has bought the UK Baby Shows business, effective as of 1 August 2011. www.ukbabyshows.co.uk is unique as a one stop shop and dedicated directory for public, retail and trade baby shows. Since it’s launch in August 2010, the site has had more than 120,000 visitors and promoted more than 120 public, retail and trade shows, events and exhibitions.

Says original founder Jo Waltham:

“www.ukbabyshows.co.uk has grown more quickly than anyone could have hoped for. I’ve more than proved the concept but with other projects on the go, it makes sense for me to hand it on to someone who can take it forward. Liz Weston has the capacity and connections to develop the site to become the significant resource that everyone wants it to be. I’m really pleased that I’ll still have opportunity to be involved and support UK Baby Shows going forwards.”

Liz Weston has 15 years experience of event management. Ranging from dinner, awards, funfair and fireworks for 400 at the National Maritime Museum to select private fundraising dinners for wealthy individuals and receptions overseas – Liz knows what she’s doing. Going forwards Liz and the Weston Communications team will utilise their strong connections in the Pregnancy, Baby and Family markets through Weston Communications to enable www.ukbabyshows.co.uk to reach more people.   For those who don’t already know them, Weston Communications is a Marketing, Communications and PR Agency which works in partnership with NHS Maternity Units, established brands and small businesses.

Says Liz Weston:

“When Jo first told me about www.ukbabyshows.co.uk in 2010, I offered to buy it there and then as it was a brilliant idea. She turned me down, launched the site herself and has done an amazing job with it. Now that Jo has other projects she wants to focus on, both I and the Weston Communications team are looking forward to investing in the site. One of our first jobs will be to put in the additional functionality that our visitors, exhibitors and shows organisers have asked for. It’s great that Jo has agreed to maintain an active involvement and we look forward to launching the next phase of www.ukbabyshows.co.uk in Autumn 2011.

For more information, regular updates and exclusive offers on the new opportunities available, visit www.ukbabyshows.co.uk and sign up for the newsletter.

Knowing when to shout STOP

Yorkshire Family ShowWritten by Cari Parker of the Yorkshire Family Show

Posted 29th July 2011

Getting anything new off the ground isn’t easy.  As anyone who has started their own business knows, you may have the best idea in the world but transforming that idea into a living breathing thing needs lots of work, patience and support.

The Yorkshire Family Show started life back in June 2010.  I had planned and held several smaller scale baby shows and noticed how older siblings often attended the events but as there was little aimed at keeping them amused, they got bored and effectively dragged the parents away from the event.  The original idea was to create something with zones for every member of the family, including gadgets and hobbies for dads, pampering treatments and shopping for mums, and activities and products aimed at every stage of a childs life.  The hunt was on for the perfect venue, and we quickly selected Harrogate as the perfect spot.  With around 6 million people within an hours travelling time and the fact that Harrogate was still prospering despite the economic downturn there was no need to look elsewhere.

There are two main venues purpose built for events, the International Centre in the middle of Harrogate and the Yorkshire Event Centre which is well known and has a lovely outdoor space.  I looked at my list of criteria and the YEC fitted the bill perfectly so I arranged a site visit.   The booking made and with another businessmum joining me on the team, it was all systems go!

This is where the hard work really begins.  Any event is only as good as the exhibitors and entertainers attending, and while our costings were in line with similar events of this level, it soon proved a challenge to persuade businesses we were worth the expense.  When selling an event for the first time you are effectively selling a promise, and we were lucky that a lot of local businesses saw the potential and booked in advance.  Our marketing plan was in place and going well, with the main focus being our attendance at the 3 day Great Yorkshire Show.  Local parenting magazines were happy to support us, the local radio station agreed to sponsorship, we just needed to fill those remaining spaces to cover the costs of running the event.

So why am I now in the position of having to postpone the show with only four weeks to go?  The first factor was slower than expected ticket sales.  I had hoped that visitors would be so excited about the event that they would book on the spot at our special offer rate, but a lot wanted to wait and see what they had planned that weekend, paying on the door instead.  While in the original budget we had planned for the ticket sales to cover extras and pay us, with only selling a proportion of the exhibitors spaces early on we needed those ticket sales to cover the shortfall.

Another factor was the timing of the event.  We wanted it to be a back to school/run out of activity ideas timed event which is why we chose the end of August.  Unfortunately a large number of our potential exhibitors plan August as their holiday time, so we had already restricted our exhibitors simply by the dates.  The last month had seen a higher level of enquiries and bookings so I still believed we could create a successful event, right up until Monday and my scheduled meeting with the venue management.

Sitting down and discussing the situation made me realise it wasn’t possible for me to fill the extra spaces and finish promoting the event.  There are only so many hours available, especially with the children at home, and I couldn’t physically do the work of a team on my own (my colleague having returned to full time work).  Following the meeting I sat down and worked on the figures, and it was apparent I had a mountain to climb in four weeks.  If I was going to make the decision it had to be now, exhibitors had already started spending on stock and display equipment and I didn’t want them losing out further.

Postponing the event has left me with a big financial hole to fill, but I am determined to reimburse all those who paid to be involved, whether it is exhibitors, advertisers or those who bought advance tickets. I am also looking to pick up the pieces and build on the marketing done to date so we can run a successful YFS in 2012, as the feedback from visitors was fantastic – we would have achieved our target audience I have no doubt (although that makes the decision to postpone even tougher to swallow!)

So have I made the right decision?  I still believe so, even though some of the exhibitors are unhappy right now I hope with time they will realise why I had to postpone.  I did honestly have their best interests at heart and would like to think some of them will come back for our 2012 event.  I am looking to make some changes, reducing the costs to get the event established first, getting a team together to run the event and changing the dates to avoid the summer holidays!

Anna Stocks of RDA Events Looking for Business Partner

RDA EventsWritten by Anna Stocks of RDA Events

Posted 26th July 2011

Due to recent success of the Mothers Instinct shows, its time for me to find the perfect business partner. If you have drive, passion, excellent time management skills, dedication, excellent communication skills and thrives off a successful business with lots and lots of love for parents, then you could join me to move the business forward. I have to find the PERFECT BUSINESS PARTNER. If you have all the quality’s and are in the Cheshire, Manchester and Wirral area please get in touch.

Anna Stocks
07791070457
annastocks@hotmail.co.uk

What Visitors Want at a Baby Show

MammaMcCann reports on what visitors want at a baby showWritten by Chelle McCann of MammaMcCann

Posted 25th July 2011

The increasing popularity of baby shows, fairs or exhibitions I suppose follows the baby boom period of this generation. Whether or not it is run by a group of mums or big business it is important for each organiser to remember or ask what mums really do want to see when they enter your exhibition hall.

  1. Lots of space – we need to move our prams/buggies around with ease and not think that we are going to be ankle clipping other parents
  2. A good, comfortable place to feed – a breastfeeding area with support cushions would be great as would thought into toddler and baby led weaning food being made available (a simple selection of sandwiches/crisps does not bode well for either a hungry mum or fussy toddler)
  3. Unique and individual products – this is really important to me. I don’t always want that item that all the other kids are seen with. I want unique, innovative and individual. Something that grabs out to us as being that little bit different.

Ask your visitors what they want by:

  1. Ask questions on your facebook page and take in the response.
  2. Email parents that have a interest in your day – ask for feedback over a coffee.
  3. Set up a forum or focus group with coffee/snacks on your day to see how you can improve the experience.
  4. Use social media – tweet out about your exhibitiors, put them on your page and encourage interaction online prior to the event.
  5. Arrange a facebook/twitter meet up at the event – The Baby Show did this at their NEC show and it proved popular with their followers.

Planet Tots Baby Show Tour of the UK

Planet Tots Exhibiting at various baby showsWritten by Kim McCann of Planet Tots

Posted 25th  July 2011

Planet Tots FamilyLike most new parents, when I had my first baby I became totally preoccupied with making sure I was doing the best for him and his future. Was I doing everything I could to help his development and make sure he had the best nutritional balance? I became very aware of doing more to help look after the environment that he’d be living in long after I was gone. I spent a lot of time seeking out the best developmental advice and looking for really good ecological options for bringing up my little monster. I really wanted to share everything I had discovered with other parents and help spread the word about all the good things we can do to help build a bright future for our little ones, so I started Planet Tots!

We’re a very new company; we launched our website in February 2010. I’m really passionate about what we do and also very impatient! I wanted to spread the word as quickly as possible and decided the best way to do that was to get out there in front of as many mums and dads as I could and get their feedback.

Planet Tots Stand at Scottish Baby and Toddler ShowOur first baby show was the Scottish Baby Show at the SECC in Glasgow in April. It was a real baptism of fire, especially since the first day (the Friday) was by far the busiest day of the weekend! It was exhausting being on your feet all day long and just talking to everyone you could, but it was great fun! What I hadn’t anticipated about baby shows is the great atmosphere and feeling of camaraderie there is among the exhibitors. Everyone is just so lovely and most people really want to see each other doing well. We had great feedback about the clothing and skincare ranges we were selling and I’m still getting repeat orders through from that show 3 months later. We sold more in those 3 days than we would have in a month at the weekend market we had been going to. I choose only the very best quality clothing and skincare ranges for Planet Tots. Ecological products often have a higher price point due to their less intensive production methods; I believe you’ve got to match that price point on style and quality first with the eco credentials being the icing on the cake. You just don’t get a sense of the quality of the products online. When people see and feel our clothing they are always pleasantly surprised by how superior it is to other things on the market. I really needed to get the products in front of people.

It’s not just about the sales; I met some great companies who we’re now working with to help grow the business. My mind was made up; we were going to spend the next year running about the UK doing as many baby shows as we could.  Now I had to find what shows were going on! The UK Baby Shows site has been an invaluable resource for me. Without it I honestly don’t think I’d have found half the shows we’re now going to. I find it really useful to be able to see everything that’s on in a single month, what size and kind of show it is so I can select which ones are the best fit for us. Since the SECC we have been to Fort William, Birmingham, Reading, Leeds and London. In the next 4 months we’re booked to do shows in Harrogate, Glasgow, Manchester, Bath, London and Brighton. Maybe 12 shows in 7 months is some kind of record, I hope it is!

I’m not going to lie to you, it is exhausting! We have 2 kids under 3 and we have to leave them with their Grandparents while my husband and I do the shows. We miss them terribly, especially as the shows are filled with babies that make us think of our own! But they love the time with their grandparents and I know it’s worth it. We’ve trebled the number of monthly visitors to our website and almost quadrupled our monthly revenue figures in the last 5 months. We have learnt so much already I can’t imagine what new things we’re going to learn in the next few months! We’ve started running fashion shows at a lot of the events and they are proving very popular indeed! At the Little Chill festival in London we had a fashion show in a marquee during a thunder storm (don’t you love the British summer)! We have met a lot of amazing people with great businesses, some of whom we’ll be working with for many years to come.

I’m now planning my own baby event in Glasgow in September called Planet Tots Bright Futures event. It’s part of social media week which happens simultaneously in 5 cities across the globe and the events from each city area streamed live to audiences across the world! It’s a celebration of all the great businesses out there who are harnessing social media to help contribute in a positive way towards our kid’s futures. It’s free to exhibit and there will be free social media focused workshops and seminars throughout the day. It’ll be free entry for the public and we hope to attract up to 3000 families from across Scotland. We will be collecting donations for Bliss and NCT charities on the day as well. If you have an ecological or child development focused business and would like to be part of the event and have your brand beamed across the globe for free then get in touch!

The intensive way I’m using baby shows to grow and develop my business sure isn’t for everyone. It can be cash intensive as many of the larger shows don’t come cheap and it is very hard work, I simply couldn’t do it without the support of my husband and family. I’ve made mistakes along the way, of course but it is definitely working. We’ve been shortlisted for Start-up of the Year in the mum and working awards (please “like” our entry) and nominated for New Business of the Year in the Scottish Business Awards. I would recommend to any baby focused business to try their local shows and see how they get on. I’d bet they meet some great people, have fun and help raise the profile of their business in the process.

Garden Productions attending Mothers Instinct to look for Couple for TV Show

RDA EventsWritten by Anna Stocks of RDA Events

Posted 25th July 2011

We have had a very exciting email from the producers of the Bafta award-winning team at The Garden Productions who did the Channel four series One Born Every Minute. Becky Lomax, director of The Garden Productions, is ecstatic that I can find some local mums to appear in their next documentary. The documentary is about love and relationship and how couples cope when their first child is born.

When I am on a mission, I’m on a mission and I found the perfect couple who are expecting their first child. They have  a very similar story to my husband and I. Our story is that we met at university and were so in love, out partying every night, lying in bed, takeaways, part time jobs, student loans, spontaneous days out, free to spend on clothing, gyms and all luxuries in life. Then this beautiful little thing appeared one day after nine months. Then it was 24/7 watching, feeding, loving this precious gift sent to us but boy did things change in our relationship! Mood swings, tiredness, depression, financial worries, Mother in laws, Mothers, arguing, no television the list went on and on! However working at your relationship and giving your baby a relaxed environment is very difficult but we have survived and still love each other like the day we met and yes life doesn’t get much easier but we balance our lives and enjoy every minute with our growing sons.

However they are still looking to speak to couples in Manchester, Cheshire and The Wirral who are due to have their first child between September and December 2011, about their views on love as they prepare for parenthood. Becky Lomax will be attending the Mothers Instinct Premier Baby Shows at the The Waterside Hotel, Didsbury on the 11th September and on the 2nd of October at Thornton Hall Wirral. If you wish to talk about the programme and filming please email love@thegardenproductions.tv or call Becky on 020 3465 9076 to find out more. Calling does not oblige you to take part in the series.

Comparing the NEC and ExCel Baby Shows

MammaMcCann reports on what visitors want at a baby showWritten by Chelle McCann of MammaMcCann

Posted 22nd July 2011

Attending the big league baby shows feels a big deal to me. Like travelling on the tube I have to prepare myself mentally for the crowds, connecting with others.

The Baby Show NEC couldn’t have felt more different to me in comparison to ExCel. As spacious as ExCel seemed to me the NEC appealed to this Midlands girl a lot more. The higher ceilings seemed to add to the open room feel and it was great to see a great selection of smaller business’ taking part.

Although the Big Brands were available for parents to see they seemed to be placed around the edge of the exhibition space and the more independent or funky brands made up the main part of the exhibition room. My favourites were Snoozeshade, Cheeks and Cherries and Mamascarf – all friendly faces that I had met at ExCel but there seemed more of a presence this time.

Compared to ExCel the room layout was fantastic. A coffee shop in the middle was a great focal point as well as many snack type shops towards the sides and back of the room. Seating seemed to be lacking but that’s always the case at busy events it seems. It would be great to see a comfy area for breastfeeding mothers where pillows were provided.

The highlight for me was the twitter and facebook friends meeting at the Central Café. Building on it’s online blog/fan page and twitter followers this provided a great opportunity to talk at extent away from the 140 character cap. I think this connection was a great example of The Baby Show showing their want to engage with mums (and dads) just like me.