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Connect @ Autumn Fair rolls out

Organiser Hyve claims system will ‘transform the future of trade shows’


Autumn Fair, the UK marketplace for wholesale home, gift, and fashion taking place from the 3-6 September, sees the launch of the Connect @ Autumn Fair 15-minute pre-arranged buying meetings programme.

With leading UK retailers such as John Lewis, WHSmith and Choice giving positive feedback on the launch, show organiser Hyve Group says Connect @ Autumn Fair “is a transformational new approach to buying, designed to revolutionise the traditional trade show model by connecting retailers and brands on a scale never achieved before”.

Above: Busy aisles at Spring Fair last week
Above: Busy aisles at Spring Fair last week

Rolling out at the NEC this September, Connect @ Autumn Fair is aimed at connecting the 600+ exhibitors across greetings and stationery, and all the gift, home and fashion sectors, with buyers who can discover the brands and products their business needs by using the technology to pre-select which stands they wish to visit using over 100 datapoints, and arrange a specific 15-minute meeting slot.

The system is free for buyers to access, while every exhibitor will be automatically enrolled in the scheme with a fee payable dependent on stand size. Four weeks prior to the event, exhibitors need to complete their online profile, then can begin scheduling and confirming meetings with preferred buyers as well as accepting requests received from those wanting to view their products.

Nicola Meadows, portfolio director at Spring & Autumn Fair, explained: “Buyers’ time is precious, and justifying time away from the retailing space has never been harder. Connect @ Autumn Fair changes all this. Visiting a trade show should not be about chance – buyers can now source and plan their time at the show in advance, and know they are meeting suppliers that will meet their needs.

“With access to extensive information on every exhibitor and product category, from origin and sustainability credentials to pricing and minimum order values, retailers will be able to pre-select meetings with brands whose products most suit their needs. Exhibitors will, for the first time ever, be able to discover and connect with buyers, based on over 100 datapoints.

“Through this revolutionary meetings programme, powered by cutting-edge but easy to use technology, we connect the right people, at the right time, and deliver game-changing impact to our customers, their businesses and their industries.

Above: Spring & Autumn Fair’s Nicola Meadows says buyers’ time is precious
Above: Spring & Autumn Fair’s Nicola Meadows says buyers’ time is precious

“With Connect, we remove all the potential anxiety, and the element of the unknown, and allow buyers and exhibitors to be prepared and informed. This is the biggest investment we have ever made in Spring & Autumn Fair’s history. Connect @ Autumn Fair is ripping up the rule book on events and creating value our customers didn’t realise was possible.”

WHSmith buyer Ellen Bonsink said: “I think Connect @ Autumn Fair will be really good. It’ll be really easy for us as buyers to be in the right hall at the right time so we’re not lost or missing suppliers. It sounds like it’ll be nice to have a curated programme so we can find the best products and find suppliers who are a good match for the business, rather than leave it to chance and miss suppliers.”

And John Lewis buyer Sophie Burton added: “I would definitely get involved with Connect. It’s great to get a tailored schedule ahead of the day’s events.”

Hyve Group anticipates over 6,000 meetings to take place at Autumn Fair with each a strict 15 minutes long and all double opt-in so both parties have to agree to meet on the exhibitor’s stand, so buyers can explore the full product range.

Buyers can participate in as many meetings as they like, up to a maximum of 48, limited only by availability and mutual interest. If more than 15 minutes is required, a follow-up meeting can be arranged at or after the show.

Connect @ Autumn Fair is powered by the leading US meetings technology company Personatech, that developed and operates the largest meetings programmes for retail events including ShopTalk and GroceryShop, and it has calculated 15 minutes is the right amount of time for “efficiency and cut-through”.

Above: Buyers like these at Spring Fair last week are being urged to pre-arrange meetings for Autumn Fair
Above: Buyers like these at Spring Fair last week are being urged to pre-arrange meetings for Autumn Fair

Sarah Ward, ceo of the Giftware Association, said: “Connect @ Autumn Fair is the evolution of the trade show model that the retail industry needs. Exhibitors will be able to find and meet more interested buyers more easily, creating more opportunities and ultimately doing more business!

“Being able to fully promote their product ranges, price points and delivery times before the event in the Connect @ Autumn Fair platform and pre-schedule meetings with buyers they want to meet is a step change in helping exhibitors and buyers get the most out of Autumn Fair. I believe that this is what the industry has been missing.”

John Halliday, director of membership and marketing at British Independent Retailers’ Association, added: “Bira is delighted to see Hyve further investing into the Spring & Autumn Fair programme. The new meetings tool, Connect @ Autumn Fair, will provide all exhibitors and visitors with a completely new experience and position the show as a sector leader.

“The technology behind this new platform will fundamentally transform the event experience, enabling a far better return on time, investment, and value. This is a no brainer and will enable companies to search, meet and do business on their stand with the right people at the right time.”

Feedback from buyers has been positive to the rollout with Lark London co-owner Priya Aurora-Crowe commenting: “Connect @ Autumn Fair sounds brilliant because it enables you to plan your day and speak to the people you really need to.”

Choice Ltd buyer Jason Farmer added: “Connect @ Autumn Fair sounds really good. I think it’s good that it’s opt in opt out, so you can pick suppliers and they can pick you, instead of wasting time on someone who might not be on the same wavelength. I think that’s fantastic.”

Neil Smith, buyer and merchandise manager for Denby Retail, said: “Connect @ Autumn Fair sounds really good. It sounds like a good way of finding new suppliers without doing the leg work for it. We’re really excited by it.”

And Whirligig Toys ceo Peter Allinson added: “Connect @ Autumn Fair sounds great for me. It means I get a really detailed conversation with someone and they’re prepared to meet me. It means they’ve done their homework and I’ve done mine and we can actually talk about something that’s relevant.”

For buyers to join Connect @ Autumn Fair, the first step is to register for a free ticket to Autumn Fair – registration opens in April – or book in a call with the show’s community development team on 020 3545 9735. Exhibitors can find more information on Connect @ Autumn Fair here. 

Top: Connect @ Autumn Fair is aimed at making trade shows more efficient for exhibitors like Tache Crafts at Spring Fair last week

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