Outgrowing their clothes? 2018 a year of downward trajectory for shows?

Table versus 120 Kilo Punter (not in shot of course!)? - disaster - at both corners visible!

Successful wargaming shows are to be celebrated without reservation. When however that success lessens the exhibitor and customer experience it is time to ask a few questions and make a few decisions.

Kurpfalz Feldherren Donnybrook table - Bonnie Prince Charlie

Picture a healthy child dressed smartly in a nice set of clothes. As the child grows the clothes will cease to fit and become tight and constraining leading to discomfort. Transfer that thought to wargaming events whose own nice suit of clothes - location, traders, gamers, facilities are no longer fit for purpose. What we experience as a consequence is general dissatisfaction for everyone involved.

The show was much more crowded than this table

Twice now in the space of a single month it appears that the success of particular events has signalled the need for some action by the organizers. I heard anecdotally that the Vapnartak show at York in February was so crowded that everyone was complaining about not being able to get near anything and the journey time around the show being substantially lengthened. Add a comment heard from another  commentator along the lines of.. " don't worry about not seeing the games, just go on line and look at the pictures from last year as it's the same stuff this year" and we can conclude that quality control and the customer experience is not at the forefront of the minds of people who should be thinking ONLY about the customer. Having not attended I offer this only for consideration and comment.

I wonder if Peter and Andy thought the show was a crowded?

I can however give first hand comment on Tactica 2018. A great event and worth the 23 hour journey from home to Germany via car and boat for Toggy and I. This year, signs of bursting at the seams were all too evident. Saturday was very unpleasant. Tables are too close together, there is no room to sit down without the people at the next table ramming their chairs into yours every time they move.

The food queues are too long and the side rooms are inaccessible due to too many traders being crammed in and the inevitable biblical plague of back-pack totting, socially unaware zombies who shuffle in long lines and clog up every available space. Twice our own table was bashed by careless punters trying to squeeze over-substantial torsos through the eye of a needle that being - the space around the end of the table.

The only Napoleonic game at the show

Wheel chair users were having a nightmare of a time getting round. The frequent tannoy announcements about punters parking in the local LiDL being potentially clamped and our own experience of having to risk a ticket parking in an social housing car park (albeit with lots of space) tells us all we need to know about the state of play in Wilhelmsburg.  Time I think for the Tactica Team to look for a larger more spacious venue or.... consider the following:

1. Have less games
2. Change the Trader mix

Option 1 is the least desirable.  So let's consider Option 2. I have seen an increasingly worrying trend at various shows and one which to my mind is most unwelcome. A significant epidemic of what can only be classed as 'Resellers'. What value do such traders add at a show? Most of the products they sell are already represented by the original manufacturer or another Reseller.

The Perrys always contribute something creative and interesting at Tactica

Boxes of plastic products piled high does not a wargames show make. Trade should include either originator or a single agent/supplier not repeat after repeat of boxes of the same stuff. A good example is Najewitz Modellbau - these guys do not sell physical product online but do sell it at shows in mainland Europe only. Therefore, they count as unique and a real bonus to have at an event. That is a tick in the box. Other traders simply bring stock from their shops and punt it at reduced prices (often undercutting the original manufacturer at the same event!).
Market forces? Brand mismanagement is nearer the mark.

This was original - A southern cotton plantation 

There is evidence of this at many shows and it is cheating the punter. Why does it happen? I have my theories but I of course prefer to leave the conclusion to you.

Interestingly there is word currently circulating on the rumour mill that one of the largest, customer focused,  high quality, long-standing and popular show agents is closing his till for good. The vacuum created is unlikely to be filled by an alternative which is anywhere near as appealing.

I infer, if this proves to be true, several marginal UK shows will see a decrease in footfall and the available cash will not be re directed to other traders. This operator is the sole reason some people attend certain shows. Result - the pruning back which has long been needed on the UK circuit. Less events with hopefully, better focus and quality. Let's see what happens.

Is this what everyone REALLY thinks of we Scots?

I have deselected League of Augsburg from several shows this year and that will stand for the foreseeable future. The reason?  Moribund and topped out events whose trajectory in my view is downward. Same old, same old. No real support for exhibitors, no real appreciation that it is the effort of the game demonstrators and cash paid by the traders and punters that allow money hungry organizations to put on an event in the first place. LoA is likely to exhibit at Claymore, Partizan and Crisis in 2018, nothing else justifies the effort. The rest of the time, I might get a game in with the lads - more fun, less hassle.