Visitors down again at MATEX

Visitor and exhibitor numbers at this year’s Matex materials handling exhibition were significantly down from previous years according to

But organisers and some exhibitorsthe say the quality of the visitors who did attend was a positive.

With just 42 exhibitors and 1,004 visitors which includes the SCLAA conference delegates over the three-day event, criticism of the show was widespread.

Organiser, Exhibitions and Trade Fairs, which bought the show just five months before, admits the event was a disappointment but is determined to turn it around in 2009, promising a significant marketing campaign and an expansion of the show itself.

Events manager Steve Shannon tells News that the show would, in future, encompass all elements of the supply chain rather than its narrow focus on forklifts and materials handling.

“We see value in the show but we need to get more visitors which we’ll do by attracting exhibitors in freight, transport, IT, racking, materials handling and every other aspect of the supply chain industry,” he says.

ETF event manager Michael Nissan tells News that he had several positive reports from exhibitors on the show, with Alan Clark from SSI Schaefer Systems stating that while the traffic was down, the quality of leads was “excellent”.

“The by-product was the ability to spend more time with prospective clients,” Clark says.

In addition, operations manager from Flexilift Australia Lindsay Bray comments that Matex 2008 was a better quality event for Flexilift than that of 2007.

“We believe we will be writing immediate business as a result of Matex 2008,” he says.

According to exhibitor Red Australia, Matex is the show where materials handling companies need to be.

National marketing co-ordinator Leonie Laarhoven tells News that visitor and exhibitor numbers were very poor in comparison to previous Matex shows.

However, the few visitors that attended were specifically in the market for materials handling solutions.

She attributes the low attendance to the fact that business trends have changed over the years, with more emphasis on safety and total operational improvements.

Therefore, key decision-makers would be more likely to visit trade shows that cover those aspects rather than just an industry-specific show.

She says the company, which launched its new three- and four-wheel Komatsu Electric Counterbalance range of forklifts at the show, obtained a positive response from visitors.

“Visitors showed particular interest in the total AC system, which doesn’t have any brushes or contactors to maintain and the airtight wet disc brakes. This also lowers total operating costs,” Laarhoven says.

“A regular comment about the range was its compact design with superb turning stability ideal for cold storage facilities where reach trucks tend to bottom out.”

Another exhibitor, Hystandard Handling Equipment, says although the show was fairly small, the people who did attend were genuinely interested.

“There weren’t a lot of tyre-kickers,” says Glyn Fussell, sales representative for the Hyster dealer, adding that the company was there to ‘wave the flag’, not launch anything new.

He comments that the venue was good, but suggests that advertising of the show may have been inadequate as he’d discovered after the show that many people didn’t even know about it.

Attending the show as a visitor was managing director of Forklifts Australia, David Clayton, who tells that Matex ’08 was an extremely disappointing experience.

“The industry did not support it — there were not enough of the forklift manufacturers represented there, and, as a visitor, it was a complete waste of time. I won’t be back next year,” he says.

”Warehouse Operations manager Sean Reed of Coghlan says he walked the entire exhibition in under 30 minutes, and found it a little disappointing.

“If it is this size again next year, I probably won’t be back,” he admits.

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